Sometimes, when the breeze passes through the trees, I ask my children if they hear the wind and the leaves make music and if they see them dancing. Have you ever heard this music? Have you ever seen this dance? I hope you have. It’s quite beautiful. This past July I went to India for a few days. My first stop was in Hyderabad; specifically an ashram called Kanha Shanti Vanam (Kanha). I had seen photographs of the place, and the plant life looked beautiful, but you know… it looked just as beautiful as I have seen and felt plant life thus far. I was not at all prepared for what I would experience in Kanha, but I heard my heart and it said: “Listen. The trees are talking”.
It was around 11 pm when I arrived at the dormitories in Kanha. There was a very light drizzle and the grounds were quiet… sort of still and calm. I was shown to a dorm where I quickly set my things down on a bunk bed, took a shower, brushed my teeth & went to sleep to be ready for morning Satsangh (a type of group meditation). The next morning, as I was walking to get chai from the cafeteria, I heard that familiar song made by the breeze and leaves. I looked at all the trees lining up the roads, and they were gently moving with the wind. Monsoon season was upon us, but we only had a light drizzle that would just begin and end now and again, and a consistent cool breeze in the 80(F) degree weather.
It’s interesting writing about this now, after going through the experience, because I have had time to contemplate on it and understand my feelings. A month later, it still is hard to put it all into words.
See, in Kanha there are so many things going on. There are volunteers who live there, those of us who visit and volunteer, construction workers who sometimes work through the night, there are people taking care of plant nurseries, people planting trees, there is a school for children, seminars, workshops, apartments and houses being built, ponds being created, meditation halls being constructed. However, the one thing I noticed as I walked around is that plant life seems to be the priority in Kanha. Not to devalue other priorities, but I don’t know how else to say it. Plants seemed to be valued so highly that it looked like construction was planned around them. And while walking on the tree-lined streets, I could not help but feel like the trees were not only dancing and singing with the wind, but like they were actually talking.
Let me back up just a tad. Kanha is a place in Hyderabad. It is the Headquarters of the Heartfulness Institute. In 2015 this land was barren. There was nothing there. To experience it today, it’s just completely amazing! I mean, there are all sorts of trees, from various places of the world! The majority of the food eaten at Kanha is grown on property. The pictures don’t do this place any justice, and the feeling that you get while there, is one that stays with you and makes the outside world feel…different.
Let me say, I didn’t hear the trees say anything in particular. It was like how you know that the Earth is a living thing, right? That, so is the grass and the flowers we see, and the bushes and trees we see. We know they are alive. I have never felt them as alive as I did in Kanha; nor as respected. It felt like the plants’ level of spirituality was higher than of the humans walking among them.
Now being back in the outside world, there is both a feeling of longing for that experience, as well as a reminder to respect and value plant life in our own back yard (so to speak). The heart keeps talking, trying to communicate and help us lead a beautiful life with experiences currently beyond our comprehension. All we need to do is listen. The more we listen, the clearer the heart is heard, and the voice grows louder. This is something I have learned from practicing Heartfulness meditation. As I am finishing up this article, it seems apparent that what I felt at Kanha with the plant life there was an expression of love.
The way that nature is incorporated in the planning of the development of the land in Kanha, makes total sense. It’s something that is doable and would be functional in other places too; cities and rural areas alike.
Although the language of the trees felt like one I hadn’t heard before, the feeling I got from it is that they definitely are our ally; if we would just listen.