“When Mother Trees – the majestic hubs at the centre of forest communication, protection, and sentience – die, they pass their wisdom to their kin, generation after generation, sharing the knowledge of what helps and what harms, who is friend or foe, and how to adapt and survive in an ever-changing landscape. It’s what all parents do.”
“The scientific evidence is impossible to ignore: the forest is wired for wisdom, sentience, and healing.”
Excerpts from Finding the Mother Tree – Uncovering the Wisdom and Intelligence of the Forest, by Suzanne Simard
If I had started the quote above after the word ‘die’ – so all you saw was “they pass their wisdom to their kin …” – you would probably have assumed I was talking about a human being. The book is amazing, the science “rigorous, peer-reviewed, and widely published” (and was also the ancient wisdom of many Aboriginal people), so to liken our ‘movement make-up’ to a tree maybe isn’t as whacky as it first appears!
And by the way:
Sentience: the capacity to experience feelings and sensations.
Having looked at LEGO as movement development through the lens of ‘birth to upright’, we now need a bigger frame to hold all aspects of movement together. Trees: they’re well-used in the world of metaphors, comparisons and symbolism, and now they’re going to continue our movement story …
We all know what can happen to shallow-rooted trees in wet and windy conditions; it’s easy to conceptualise that roots underpin the integrity of ALL movement above. Tree roots reach out FROM CENTRE in all directions to communicate, sense, feel, protect AND to create three-dimensional stability in the moving structures above ground.
FROM CENTRE (the root source), each root can be identified as being to the left or the right, forward or backward of centre as you look at it, deeper and shallower relative to each other and when you combine the left-right with depth, diagonal vectors are generated. In the same way, our movement development at its ROOTS, offers us, RELATIVE TO OUR CENTRE:
Left-Right on the Diagonal Movement.
We have three-dimensional stability on two feet because of the interaction of three planes of motion, using these (above) four parameters:
- Top-Bottom tells us which way is up.
- Front-Back gives us a belly and a backbone and sagittal plane movement (motion viewed from the side of the body: page 68, EWYSO).
- Left-Right gives us sides and a midline and frontal plane movement (motion viewed from the back or front: page 120, EWYSO).
- Left-Right on the Diagonal gives us a twist through the system and transverse plane motion (page 186, EWYSO).
The ROOTS of our movement development help us begin to understand spatially “which bit of us is where and what action it’s taking”. After all, if LEGO is to be played with, something else ‘movement’ already needs to be in the basement, ready and willing to explore …
Even if you’ve never hugged a tree (I recommend it; there is deep knowing within your embrace), you’ll know that whilst it’s sturdy, it’s not completely immobile. Indeed, if it were, it would snap in the wind and become something else: an eco-system for funghi, a critter-shelter, kindling, part of a log cabin, the list goes on.
For the tree trunk to fulfil its purpose, it reaches upwards with strength and enough flexibility to maintain upright whilst movement disturbs it.
Down in the basement/brainstem, movement ROOTS + DNA timeline-driven reflexes (LEGO) weave their magic together, creating our spinal strength and vestibular balance for uprightness, along with control over 360-odd joint articulations (depending on how you count them), enabling us to move whilst maintaining our Top-Bottom orientation (read: not topple over).
Our tree is growing: we have ROOTS offering grounding with 3D movement understanding, nourishing the robust, athletically-mobile, LEGO-generated, upright TRUNK above … the one that’s just about to burst through the basement ceiling …
No, not our arms; we only have two of those. Think bigger! We’re not conceptualising our structure with tree structure; rather, we’re using tree structure to discuss natural motor development. Lifelong Movement Development. Spreading tree branches give more surface area opportunity to make food for the tree, via the leaves, enabling its growth cycles.
If movement is Life and life is Movement, our BRANCHES are the many smooth, controlled, voluntary movements possible now that the ROOTS and TRUNK (LEGO) together have created stability and strength with mobility.
The BRANCHES – now reaching across the first floor (basal ganglia) – are the “basic” movements of walking, running, skipping, galloping, jumping, playing hopscotch, dancing and the co-ordination of some hand-eye and foot-eye skills and all the varied activities that incorporate those movements.
As the ROOTS continue to feed information to the TRUNK, the better organised the BRANCH network becomes. The more movement through the BRANCHES, the better the TRUNK resilience and the more used to grounding stresses the ROOTS become. Our tree continues to grow …
Life goes on, seasons come and go, the moon waxes and wanes, energy grows and subsides.
Consider LEAVES – their growth in spring and their demise in autumn – as the ebb and flow of movement and energy through the seasons. This element of the endless cycle of movement development is often missed; even evergreen trees have their growth and repair cycles …
Not all fruit trees bear fruit. Sometimes, a fertilisation issue holds back fruit production, sometimes the weather interferes and of course, you can’t discount the general health of the tree. Regardless, a fruit tree is part of the overall eco-system and its fruits matter.
If we consider the FRUITS of our tree as learned movement skills – borne of increasing levels of flexibility, mobility and balance – they can only be possible if the ROOTS, TRUNK and BRANCHES are prospering and vigorous enough to support them.
Your movement FRUIT depend entirely on the health of your ROOTS shaping the three-dimensional world the TRUNK needs to grow flexibly upright in, which in turn enable the BRANCHES to spread in an organised fashion, allowing smooth and controlled basic movements at all times.
Our tree needs the active reach to push through to the top floor (frontal cortex), to flower in all its glorious potential.
If we’re only as strong as our weakest links, let’s find them! Let’s focus on ROOTS, TRUNKS and BRANCHES … and watch the fruit blossom.
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