Since there are so many different and unique types of trees, it is important when approaching one to simply start by standing back from it and noticing what it is like and what it is doing. In this way you will have a better idea as to what kind of conversation you could have with the tree and what you may be able to learn from it. For example, if you were to meet a person who is a math professor, you probably wouldn't start a conversation with them about Shakespearean literature. In the same way, a tree that lives alone at the top of a hill won't be as insightful about getting along with others as a tree living in the thick forest or grove. A tree living inside the main courtyard of a monastery may have much to say about the people living there, just as an oak living in the wilderness may have a lot to teach about deer and squirrels and birds.
The outwardly manifesting characteristics of the tree will tell a lot about the internal insights and lessons that the tree may have for you, so it is worth the effort to open up to what the physical qualities of the tree are telling you before going into a deeper conversation. Many clues about the personality of the tree can be found by simply noticing the answers to the following questions:
Once you have gone through this type of initial process with the tree, the next aspect of communication can be in the form of an offering from you as you begin to relate to the tree through your words. Even though the communication you receive from the tree will not come in the form of human speech, you can use your own speech skills very effectively to share your energy of the moment with the tree. In terms of moving energy, our speech is one of our most powerful tools, and when you talk or laugh or shout or cry during your conversation with the tree, the energy moved is what the tree will feel—not necessarily the meaning of specific words, but certainly the feelings evoked in you by them. That is why, especially in the beginning, it is far more productive to actually use your voice to talk to the tree and not try to do it telepathically. Also, the uncommon act of talking to the tree will loosen you up and shrink your ego by placing yourself on the same level as the tree.
When receiving dialog from the tree be sure to listen at all perceptual levels, because just as we relate to people at different levels, the same happens with trees. Intuition plays a large part here, as does relating to the postures, movements, and language of the tree, both at a sensory level as well as the physically imperceptible actions of the tree that are continuously happening. Interacting with a tree in this way is an extremely enlightening and personal experience, and as you develop your communication skills you shouldn't be afraid to pose relative questions to the tree just like you would a good friend, and like a good friend you should be available to listen to the tree's questions as well.
Excerpted from Ecoshamanism, by James Endredy