Talked to the Trees...
How to give your audiences an experience that
brightens their lives and endears you to them forever
by Burt Dubin
July 1980. I drive my new Toyota to a conference in the foothills
of Southern California's San Gabriel Mountains. I don't know
the conference leader, Brugh Joy, is going to expand the consciousness
of all 30 of us. To awaken us. And in a surprising way.
Brugh sends us out at dawn each morning. Out and up. We are
to avoid each other. "Climb the mountain," he tells
us. "Be alone and silent. Be back by breakfast time."
This allows me about 2 hours out in the crisp air. Healthy
exercise at the least.
We are told to find and select an aspect of nature to communicate
with. To have a discussion with. To ask questions about something
significant in our respective lives at the time. This is part
of the learning experience. It doesn't happen in the presence
of the conference leader. It happens for each of us while
we are alone in nature. And only to the degree we allow.
What aspect of nature? The choice is mine. A tree, any tree,
a bush, a stream, a boulder, a rock, a cactus, a plot of grass,
a flower, a bird, the sky, one cloud in the sky, any animal
I might see during my climb.
After breakfast we convene for the morning session. We share
our experiences alone in nature. Insights have surfaced for
most of us. Answers to challenging questions. Wise counsel
regarding choices. Understandings regarding puzzling decisions
that are to be made.
I am later to discover the roots of this process. Where and
when it started. Why it is so effective. Dating back to prehistory,
before there was writing, way back before what we now call
Thousands of years ago indigenous peoples lived in tribes
as hunters, as gatherers. Shamans, monk-like ascetics, witch
doctors, wise ones, elders evolved and emerged. By whatever
name these seers were respected and revered for their wisdom.
And they all spent long hours alone and silent in the natural
world. There they found access to the truths of nature and
of the human experience.
The process of being alone and silent in the natural world
worked then. It works now. It worked for ancient wise ones.
It can work for you and for your audience. The challenge,
of course, is finding a resort, a conference center, a hotel
Years later, I attend another conference in a facility on
a beach. Pretty much the same formula works there. We are
directed to speak to the waves, to the seagulls, to one seagull.
We are to engage in discourse, in dialog with the dry sand,
with the damp sand, with a sand crab, with little stones.
Today I host conferences in Sedona, Arizona. (I use a resort
hotel abutting nature.) These events include alone time, silent
time outdoors in nature. Much of the value participants harvest
here is self-generated.
Can you create such programs? You decide. You must be the
sponsor to create such experiences for your attendees. You
guarantee the facility a certain number of room nights. You
need a source for the food needs of those you attract. And
you do risk some of your own money.
Be careful. The first time I did this I had a net loss of
$4000. The second time I only lost $2000. The third time and
every time since, I made a modest profit.
Your biggest outcome when you create such a program is knowing
you are opening an awareness window for each person present.
A window that cannot be opened any other way. And once that
window is opened, once you have widened someone's awareness,
there is no way to undo it. Just as there being no way to
go back to being a virgin.
As Brugh said to us, "Once you have tasted the nectar
there is no turning back."