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What We Can Learn From Dialoguing with Nature - an interview with Hervé Franceschi
This is a transcription and translation of the interview I had with Hervé who has spent his life talking with trees and animals. So much we can learn!
I met Hervé Franceschi, a fellow speaker, over a decade ago. He’s a fascinating individual, having competed at the highest levels of water polo, and who has spent his life talking with nature and helping teams to get grounded, for individuals to rediscover the power of intuition, and how to create harmony and balance in one’s life, both personally and professionally. He wrote the book (en français), “The 4 Seasons for Finding Your Place in this World.” I’ll be publishing the audio version of the interview on my French-speaking podcast here, in the near future. I think you’ll find his words both soothing and inspiring.
Minter Dial (interviewer)
Hello Hervé Franceschi. Nice to have you on my show again. As you know, I'm writing a book about conversation and I'm trying to find deep conversations that move minds; and I'm particularly looking for points of view and styles of conversation that I don't know about. And you, Hervé, are just that expert and I'm happy to have you talk about them. Tell us a bit about the styles of work you do where the conversation is central.
So, conversation or dialogue? Because maybe sometimes it's a dialogue more than a conversation. I would say that if we talk about the human world in which we are in conversation, I have learned to be in dialogue or in conversation with myself. This seems simple to all of us. But, in fact, I realized that the vast majority of people are not in conversation with themselves. That is to say that they are not in contact with themselves, deeply. As I myself have been for years. However, it is something that is not taught in our schools, which is not taught in terms of education. My parents didn't teach me that. And it's a long journey to learn how to be in touch with yourself. It is something we will often find in ancient texts or with people who have worked on their relationship with spirituality… through religions or even through a non-religion, we can say. But it was often that spirit that made people realize that there was an inner space. We also find that -- we had talked about that, it seems to me, once together -- but also people who have been prisoners, people who have been deprived of freedom and who have been isolated, entrenched within themselves because in fact there was no more external dialogue. There was no longer any relationship with others or, sometimes, it was with great difficulty with their jailers. As a result, there was only an internal relationship or a relationship with what everyone will call God or something of that order. This type of situation makes it possible to become aware that there is something which is also expressed inside. And then afterwards, there are people who do that naturally; we call it the dialogue with an angel. There are people who have or receive conversations, like a kind of channeling and who are in dialogue with something external to them and internal to themselves. But it's not the mind that speaks, it's another part inside me that speaks. But that's already a type of dialogue that can be enriching. I don't know exactly what term I should use. I would use the word “astonishing.” I find it more than amazing. It is marvelous to realize that in fact we are not alone. Without explaining exactly what this external or internal presence to me is. And to realize that in fact, in this interior, there is an infinite calm. In this interior, there are like the wide-open spaces that are in the painting behind me, which are in the hills of southern Utah in the United States, there is a space that seems infinite. And when you're in touch with that interior, that's when you say, “Wow." In fact, I should spend more time in my interior and that, for having accompanied people in the desert for a set of years, there is something about this place, in the desert. Either we get lost in the exterior-interior sense. We are lost. We are not comfortable in this immensity. Or, on the contrary, it is reassuring. Because, ultimately, we are in contact with the deafest part. So far, I haven't woken him up. By deaf, I mean that we have to re-educate ourselves because in fact we don't hear the signals. They are weak, and we tend to listen to the strong signals, not the weak signals. And at the same time, I developed an ability to have a dialogue with beings that are in large numbers on this planet, in greater numbers than us: the trees. They are at a lower frequency (four hertz) than ours. This is the frequency that is necessary for the sap to rise and fall. And in that frequency, it roughly matches the frequency of your brain when you're meditating (that is, if you're meditating). And people often tell me: “I don't know how to meditate, Hervé.” But I say you don't need to. In fact, the trees will teach you how to do it. And when we take the time to be in dialogue with a tree, even if at the beginning we look and say, “Yeah, your thing is weird, it's a bit crazy!”, we will realize that this low frequency will calm the brain as in a process of meditation. And I will be able to be in contact precisely with something that is diaphanous, more subtle. And I can be with this inner frequency where these two beings, the tree and the man, can hear each other. And that's the first word that I would use before the word “dialogue.” It is that we can HEAR. So, by hearing, I don't mean a conversation with words. But, in fact, I hear it. If I try to put words to explain what this type of dialogue says, it would be a kind of vibration that I transcribe into words, because deep down, I hear many words, but these are words that I hear in my head. You could say it's something like a dialogue between souls. Is it something like that or not? I have no certainty. These are words that we use to try to explain it. But –it's not just me, because I've taught it to hundreds of people – what I see is that not all of these people are crazy in the same way; and they all hear something comparable. Or, often, I hear for them. So, if they don't know, I tell them “I'm just giving you a hint,” or something like that. But, really, I didn't dare mention it as it seemed crazy to me that they had not yet heard what is coming. But, in fact, it does come. So, the difference between the trees and us is really the flow. The plant world is in "slow cook" mode. While we are doing everything like fast food. The buffet. And they do everything slowly. Everything is at a slow pace. Everything takes time. And the more I have an old tree, the more there is a kind of cavernous, slow voice, which comes out of the depths, but which is powerful. You feel good. Wow! It is as if you have shaken yourself. You see everything, your whole being vibrates. The younger the tree, the ‘faster’ it is. But it's not very fast anyway. So that means that, if I inhabit my thoughts, I am too present in my thought and, in fact, I cannot hear because I am already making an interior noise. You're still making a background noise. And that's how the majority of humans listen. That is to say, they don't hear, or they don't really listen. In many conversations that I have with people, I see that they are already thinking about what I have just said to them. That is to say, as soon as I put forward an idea, it goes away. And they are elsewhere, not present with what I am saying.
To be present, it is a form of hypnosis. That is to say that, in fact, people are magnetized by what you say and, there, they listen fully and completely. And fortunately, there are people who really know how to listen. But I would say that a lot of people -- and especially the world of work -- are restless. They have a restless mind. And so, in this busy mind, it's hard to make room for listening. People operate with cognitive or confirmation biases. I listen to something that I expect you to tell me (or that I don't know), but I listen to you and then cut you off, “It's okay now, I know.” In fact, he doesn't listen to the end of the sentence. That's very common. I don’t say it's everyone, but it is very common. And then it's also maintained by the system which is only on fast mode and that believes that the answer must be fast. In school, we credit people who are quick to respond, and we think that people who are slow are stupid. But no, it's just that they analyze more, or they listen. And so, as we haven't valued that, for a lot of people, they try to be something other than what they are. That is, they fail to listen. But we are all capable of listening. I don't believe for two seconds that humans aren't capable of listening. We have two ears, one mouth. One should be able to hear, to get there. Yet, all the same, I can clearly see that, for many people, it is an effort to relearn how to listen, to say nothing, not to comment. Maybe they make sounds, such as a Mm-hmm or Uh-huh. Or they might ask a question because they didn't understand. Well, when you're really listening fully, that never happens. I never make a tree repeat. I never make a client repeat when I listen to him/her. Never. Because deep down: I hear. And then it echoes. And the only times I ever ask a question – and it's not the same thing -- is when the person's thinking isn't necessarily clear. But that doesn't happen with animals. That doesn't happen with trees. Things are clear. Then I understand them, I hear them. And there is always a part of us that would like to do. For example, I can see that when I take people for walks in the forest, especially with the trees. Little by little, they develop this sense. At the beginning, we start by developing our senses, our five senses. In a forest, there are smells. In a forest, there are colors that change according to the sun and according to the shadows and, thus, according to that, the trees are not the same according to their response to the sun. It is not the same type or size of tree that will grow. Same for the ferns. Now, everything -- from the moss on the ground to the canopy above -- is interacting; and depending on the light and the sun, there is a kind of hierarchy that takes place in this environment. Just by listening to or looking at all this, people start to realize that things are not as they initially appeared. They become aware of what could be called an energy of places. And that it's inhabited and it's not inanimate pieces of wood like chairs or tables. Little by little, in this space, they become aware also by touch, for example, that when they look at a tree, they think that this tree is rough. And finally, it is sweet. One may think it's very hard. Then finally, it’s supple. And so little by little, our senses begin to develop, and we realize that the sense of sight doesn’t have the sole truth. And so, we open up the other senses. We become more alert and, therefore, more attentive to what is to come. And little by little, when you take this path, in just half an hour, the vast majority of people are already able to find a tree with which they can have a conversation. For those who can't, I suggest a particular tree, and so on, depending on how I feel about the person and the tree. It's as if the tree was calling me. I don't know how to explain it otherwise.
If I want to go back to the genesis of that, I think that since I was a child, my parents took me to the Parc de Sceaux in the south of Paris. There is a big park and there are big trees. And I remember that I went up in the trees. I put myself in the branches without wanting to climb all the way up. You know, there are children who like to climb. Me, I just liked being in the tree. Finding a space where I can be and stay. And I hugged trees without knowing what it could bring me. Because I liked it, because I felt attracted to it. I didn't hear anything at the time. I didn't know what it gave me, except that I had a desire or a drive to go and I did it every time we went out. And then in my adolescence, I was more self-conscious and paid attention to what others were watching. So, I was less comfortable with this process. And I stopped doing it. A little later, when I was a young adult, around 18 years old, I realized that I missed it. So, on two or three occasions when I was in a park, I did it again. And, I found that I liked it, especially when my emotions were less calm. The emotional register was calmed thanks to these walks in the forests, something that today is well-known. This is a benefit that you can verify for yourself. It's even a science in Japan that is widely used, but at the time I had no perspective on this matter. I was going through this without being aware of any precedence. And I didn't tell anyone else about it. Then one day, I was in a competition in the summer at the French championships with my trainer. It was in Vichy, I remember very well. And opposite, there is a large park. It's the thermal park of Vichy which became Club Med, I believe. And I get out of the pool.
You can imagine me with big flip-flops and a bathrobe, and he asks me, “Hervé, how do you manage to be so calm? They're all excited, but you're calm. Really. And calm in the sense as if you went to take a nap; as if nothing happened, while you were swimming.”
“Well,” I reply, "I actually hug trees!"
And I hear myself say that. Until now, I believe that I had not said it to anyone. I didn’t feel strong enough to say it. I’d have slinked away if someone had told me: “No, of course, not! That's bullshit!”
But, this time, with my trainer, I said to him, “If you want, I will show you.”
So, we go to this park. Here’s this guy in flip-flops and a bathrobe crossing the road and going into the park and there were beautiful trees in front. And he goes straight to a tree and I say to him, “Not that one, it's not for you.”
And there he asks me why?
But me, I know that this tree is sick and that it is not for him. But that's when I realized that there is this dialogue that exists. That I didn't put words to it. I just knew, in the sense that it's like there's an inner voice, a smell, a feeling. I didn't know how to explain it at the time.
He asks me, “Which one?”
This gentleman had never asked himself such a question. He was a man of action. And so here I am, pointing.
"What do I have to do?” he asks me.
I actually show him and both of us found their tree. We're not far from each other, and we stay about five minutes.
He said, “You're right, it feels good.”
And that's when I thought maybe I should start to talk about it. But, before that day, it was still a personal matter between me and me, my intimate secret. But to a degree, it wasn't even a secret because I wasn't even aware that I could have talked about it. You see, it's not something where you tell yourself that you mustn’t say it. I had almost forgotten how I did what I did. It's like when you're unconsciously competent, you don't know what you're doing anymore. I was not able to explain it. I was not able to understand what I was doing. And at that moment I realized that maybe I could help other people. So, I redeveloped it for myself. Then as if by chance, life led me to help people who were interested in that. Once, I remember, a woman offered me to go for a walk in a big forest.
And I thought, "Here, I'm going to tell him a little about the trees.”
She asks me, "How do you know all this?"
“Because they tell me.”
"How are they telling you?"
"Well, I don't know how to explain it to you!"
And now I am going to tell you about another experience I had. I was with a group. I remember very well that it was near Nantes. It was a training in a very large property and there were big trees. I arrive in this wood which is behind the mansion. And I spoke to the trees... I felt like they were my cousins. Really, it was like the feeling of finding a family. It was weird, but really, that was the feeling I got. And since I know how forests work in terms of energy, when I got home, I think I did something like ask for permission, just as you might knock on someone's door before you go in. And the second I did that, squirrels started showing up, two squirrels going up and down. Oh, maybe it's just a coincidence, I thought. Just after, I have a doe that shows up. And a doe doesn't sidle up to you every day. You might see one, but she doesn't come up to you. This time, she came towards me, almost as if she wanted me to caress her. So, I said to myself that, after all, it must be domesticated. Then I talked to the owner about it, and he said that they didn’t own any deer. There you start to doubt yourself. Was it really a doe? Yes, I remember well, because I didn't touch her because I didn't dare to. But she was really a meter away from me, not at the edge of the woods as one might expect.
He said to me “Yes, it is possible as there is a forest behind us. But no, I don't have a doe of my own. I don't have a doe on these grounds.”
And, little by little, as I’m hanging out in this wood, I have an experience, that I would say, of meeting a family again. My family. And I felt that I had a dialogue. It was like “Ah, welcome! Come on! We are happy to see you again.”
If I do it really fast, that's all it was. Of course, there's a part of you, if you're not comfortable with what you can hear like that, you say to yourself that you’re crazy. Or else you tell yourself a story. Often, before telling ourselves that we are crazy, we produce a film in our heads. If you don't know how to listen to the inside, this dialogue is incomprehensible. But I gradually learned to embrace it… At the start, it was incongruous, embarrassing. I was wondering if I'm making it all up. Am I a mythomaniac? I had to experience this inner journey before coming to accept what I was going through. My judge, my inner critic, took me through many stages.
In what you recounted, I was pondering how much this inner dialogue with the trees allowed you to know yourself? Because in fact, at the beginning, I had the impression that they were other people's voices. And is it a matter of becoming one with that other voice that brings you to know who you are? And the second part of my question is when you have cues like that, can you put meaning into it (actively) or does the meaning have to come to you (passively)? Take the example of when you have dreams (and sometimes we remember them or not depending on the person), Was this dream important? Did it dictate a premonition of something, or did it raise an unconscious issue that I hadn't wanted to address in real life … or not? And how do you judge these conversations or these dreams?
So, when it comes to dreams, I'm not a dream specialist. I read Bruno Bettelheim, and I became interested in dreams to try to interpret them. But you see, they’re just an interpretation. That would be obvious to some people. But to me, these are just guesses or interpretations. The dialogues [with the trees] are clearer to me. It's exactly like I'm talking to you here. So, afterwards, we could ask ourselves the question: “What did Minter want to tell me?” But, in fact, I don't have that feeling because, to hear, you have to be very calm, so I'm not agitated. The dream, on the other hand, can agitate me. And can make me believe something because I have cognitive biases. I say to myself, “Yes, with what I experienced yesterday, I was angry, or I was sad, or I'm fine at the moment and, so, I get up…”. Anyway, I'm making interpretations. With the trees, it is not an interpretation, it is not a supposition. There is something very quiet inside. And in that inner stillness, you hear. I often say that it is when you empty your interior that it can resonate. A bit like in a large space in which your voice thunders. Because there is nothing. And it bounces off the walls. But filled with stuff, this room or this space, in fact, there is no echo, or much less. And that's pretty much it. It's that in fact, there is no longer any echo, there is no longer any resonance, and it is rather a phenomenon of resonance. That is to say, what is said resonates -- as with relevance -- and therefore the meaning is quite obvious. I think that, at times, the people I have accompanied, I can clearly see that they have trouble hearing or accepting that they have heard. But those who accept – and sometimes it happens in the first session – well, basically, they say to me, “It's okay, I have an answer. It's clear!”
There is no questioning. I just wanted to come back to the fact that this is not an interpretation.
And the second question was whether I should be at one with the interior. I would say to you that in fact I think that we are multifaceted, and that we have an interior source. It is to reconnect with this interior source. We are already one by nature. You see, it's just that we're more like a puzzle, at times a little discontinuous, with maybe a few misplaced pieces. But, in fact, we are one, as we are a whole; as we are one with regard to nature. But as we have separated from each other, we seek more what differentiates us than what brings us together. That doesn't mean that differentiating ourselves isn't important. Of course, we are each a cell of a larger body. Inside me, each of my cells make up my body. But for me, we are part of a larger body. Not in the physical sense of the term as we understand it, but in the sense that we are all connected. And there are plenty of experiences to show that we're all connected, but we just need to be reminded. That we live in a very materialistic world that forgets that in terms of who we are -- you and me -- we're not just a body. We are not just thoughts. And like that we are less able to define it well and it is often a pattern of beliefs that will define it. It is a pattern of beliefs against another pattern of beliefs. The goal is not that I impose on you or that I offer you my choice of belief, rather I am in the process of proposing a path, to tell you “Here! Go explore and see what you find.” And I'd be surprised if you didn't find anything.
And in this dialogue then, the one who is you, how much do you measure or evaluate your level of self-awareness?
I would say that when I am in this state, I think I am connected to my consciousness. But the big difficulty is to stay that way! It's that as soon as you go into your thoughts, you're not connected to the rest of your body. It’s pretty hard. So, it's about calming your mind! It doesn't mean not to think, but it does mean calming down one's thoughts. There are plenty of techniques. Breathing is the most powerful or the fastest, but there are others. Meditation is another, which often still involves breathing or at least managing your breathing, to move into conscious breathing. And the conscience in fact will express itself in many cases, but as soon as we are in difficulty, one needs a system. For having done it myself, I created my own technique, with a constellation system, like systemic constellations. Well, it is possible to be conscious of one’s non-consciousness. When you’re in difficulty, there is no longer a pilot. There is no longer the awareness. There is no more decision making. And that's why it's difficult for me. It's because it's like we’ve abandoned ship. And in fact, it's just that other things speak, instead of our consciousness.
Listening to you, I have the impression that, if I think, then I am distancing myself from myself! Contrary to what Descartes had said, from the moment I am in the process of thinking, I move away from this deeper consciousness?
So, reflection is useful in the analytic process. Reflection (i.e. thought) is useful because it allows me to progress. However, it often takes me away from my interior. That's what I'm saying. I am not saying that it is not possible to think. But often, having lived it, because I tend to think a lot (it's my way of working), I'm more in a reflective mode that can be intellectual or conceptual. And as a result, I learned to calm that down because when you do that, it's kind of like a virtual world; one can nourish oneself or believe in all one's beliefs. And, in fact, we reassure ourselves with this system of thought, but which is not in contact with the whole of myself. And partly, when we do that, it's because we're scared. We are afraid of being wrong. That's why we think a lot. We are afraid of not knowing. We are afraid to be in contact with our emotions. And the fears are many. When I tell you that, it's hundreds of fears that we experience at the same time. But we are not aware of it. There aren’t always a hundred, but often more than two [fears], and I often say they come in a string. The first comes and ropes in another. So, in fact, you only have to adjust the first one and that will be enough. But there are twenty-five more attacking you. So, that's why when you talk to people, there are objections upon objections. Because it's fear. When there is an objection, it is that you have reflected. It is the same thing. But when there are objections upon objections, it means that after a while, we are locked into a system – which is not rational – but in fact for the person, will be rationalized. For almost all humans, it just means the need for control. And control always comes from fear, no exceptions.
I have another thought running through my mind. Because, in listening to you, if I am listening, instead of thinking about what I am going to ask you as the following question, whether it is a conversation with you here or with a tree, there is mental recording of what is said. And, in that moment, the tree speaks to me of a guide of how I should lead my life. And retaining that element, raising awareness or explaining what I heard, requires effort. And at that time, I have to use part of me, in my brain, to collect it. I think of the same thing in relation to dreams, or in relation to my psychedelic experiences, where there is a thought that comes up and I want to capture it. And at the very moment I am trying to capture this thought, I distance myself from myself?
So, here we must explore the differences in short-term, medium-term, and long-term memory. Long-term memory is what is generally called memory: remembering one's memories. Short-term memory is used when you and I speak. We listen and follow each other, because there is a logical pursuit of a common subject. This is what makes it possible to capture what’s just happened. The medium-term memory related to what you were just saying. That's why if I speak continuously, if I had a natural flow, you would understand everything. But you wouldn't be able to remember because you’re going to miss what I just did: this stop signal and that you answered me. And then, boom. The medium-term memory starts working and you record it. So, it's as if you emptied your computer buffer and all of a sudden it goes in and, there, it goes in very quickly. To deal with what you just heard, you might then ask them a question. And it goes very quickly. I don't know how to measure it but it's a second or two. And, so, in that time, each of us can analyze, without going into a reflection phase. A reflection is really is acknowledging what was said. There is a reflexive process which comes back to my interior. So, reflection or thinking is not negative if it includes the body. Often, however, it includes only the mind. That is to say, I forget all the sensations. I actually forget that memory also picked up the sound of my voice. And what it does to you. It may be captured by sight if I ever showed something during the experience. If you visualized something when I spoke to you, does it echo? I can describe something you've never experienced, which thus isn't a memory for you, but if I describe it, you see a picture. That's a way to memorize. All of that goes back to your memory at that moment and, in any case, to your unconscious at least, if it's not all in the conscious. And if ever at some point you wanted to go and look up everything that was exchanged in this conversation for you, you would find all that you produced in return for the words that I said. And that's not cutting you out. It's a back and forth, if you will. And in these round trips, you are not cut off. For me, the most obvious thing in a conversation with horses or with the animals is that I was able to experience that. They have a connection. They are in what we would call the energy of the heart. What humans are all capable of doing, but because we spend too much time in the head, we are not connected enough, that is to say in relation, simply connected. And that is why, in fact, we forget that we are one. Otherwise, we would naturally be in this relationship. And, so, with horses, you can see right away that they feel you, they perceive you and they perceive your heartbeat. They constantly adapt to you. They are a mirror of what you live, not what you do, what you are; and the animal constantly adapts to that. Thus, it's a way to check if I am in phase with what I'm doing. It's the horse that produces this sensation; or is what I'm doing here with the horse, does it come from me? And, in fact, sometimes we don't really know and so I say every time I teach this to people -- especially through the practice of coaching – I say: Stop! Let it all go! At the beginning, it's hard to let go. I don't know what I am letting go of. In fact, the majority of people don't understand that they are putting pressure on the animal because they want to succeed in an exercise. This pressure, which is mental on the body, does not release it. And once I give them the technique, for example to squat, to look at the ground, to breathe and to be in its interior, to seek this return inward, at that moment, within a second, I give space to the horse, and then the horse will come and stand next to me. And this when I couldn't have a proper human relationship. It means that in the relationship, I took up too much space. I am on top of the other, instead of leaving her space. And so, in the human it is the same. Often, it's when we don't leave enough space for one other, you can't inhabit the relationship. I took up all the place in the relationship.
It's a bit like when I’m wanting to shake your hand, but you’ve kept it in your pocket. Maybe I wouldn't reach out for your hand if it’s in your pocket? I wouldn’t pull it out to shake your hand because that would be excessive. But do I go all the way? Or do I venture 90% of the trip? 80%? 50%? What percentage? If I just kept my hand in my pocket to make you understand that I want to shake your hand, that would be really complicated. You would say to me that you didn't understand because there was no way to know (or else you really have to read my head, my thoughts) that I intended to do it. But when you're connected, that's why you can often finish someone's sentence. When you start a sentence, I finish it because we are so connected to the common field of thinking like an egregore in which we have access to a magnetic field of ideas or thoughts that we both feel. And it's like we're walking a common path, you and me. In those relationships, when you're very close because you're in a heart relationship, a lot of things can happen. But you see there we are adjusting the heart and head. In fact, what is powerful is to reconnect from the belly, from the guts, from the heart and from the head. If I do that, this alignment produces a form of grounding anchor. And it is this anchor that reminds us that we are earthlings. Otherwise we are aerialists. In fact, we are in our mind. We are not really connected to the ground and for many humans, they would love to be birds. They would all like to fly. I, too, would like to fly. I can’t say I wouldn't like it. But still, we are earthlings. We're on the ground and that's what all the animals will remind you of. They are connected to the ground. Their four legs are connected to the ground. Finally, it doesn't matter, whether they have two or four legs on the ground. They are really connected. They have an energy of the earth and we find it when we let go of our synthetic shoes, when we put our bare feet back in the earth. The more time we spend in contact with the ground, the more we become part of the earth. And we use energy from the earth because there's magnetic energy, electromagnetic energy, electrical energy, all of that, that's what we're also made of. Not just carbon and oxygen. There are all these energies that pass through us and if we are well centered, the grounding already works. Otherwise I see a lot of people, they complain of electrostatic shocks, but it's because they are too much in their thoughts and bringing too much friction.
So, in this reconnection with the earth, the connection the animals have with the earth, where I am listening, what I believe is a problem in the world, too, is a great fear of death.
And what's funny is that, from what I understand, this connection with the earth for the animal is not attached to an awareness of its death. For humans, we think about our death. We are aware of this act. And, thus, comes an existential fear which is not a fear that animals harbor. They are more grounded. So, I think they’re more connected to their mortality.
You could say it the other way around. You could say that they are more connected at birth, too. But I would say that, in the spirit already, they are in the present time. And we're not very good at that. I don't meet every day with first peoples. I've met a few of them, but I don't have enough experience to tell you that they are still connected to the present, but those who live in what I would call the western world or in metropolitan cities (even in the countryside) in this century, people find it difficult to live in the present moment. That does not mean that they do not live in the present moment at all, but it’s not enough. Quickly, they are on new plans, busy in the activity of designing the future. And they forget to live in the present. If I take the time to imagine what I could be doing this summer, it's like pushing my mind, my body, into this summer. I can imagine myself at my country house. What would I like to do there? If I spend this time in my head doing that, I'm removed from my present. You have to do it at times, it's just projecting and preparing; and then I come back to the present and see what it asks of me today. Maybe I must plan something. This is in the present moment. What can I do now? What can I live? There is the problem of doing in the present. That is to say, only with an awareness of the present. There are many people doing things, e.g. eating. But, while they’re eating, they are thinking of something else. They don't eat properly. I don't know what they do, besides the fact that they chew. Everything is mechanical. So, there is no consciousness.
And it happens to me because I'm gourmand; or when I'm affected emotionally, I can see that I've eaten. Yet, I don't know what I ate. For example, if you brought me wine, I can drink three glasses of wine; but I won't realize it until all of a sudden, I will feel like I've had a little too much to drink. Nevertheless, I saw it well and mechanically finished these 3 glasses of wine. I ate well. But in fact, I ate so quickly without consciousness, that I don't know what I ate. That's it, and so that's one of the great paradigms, with the big change that would be necessary to bring into our lives -- to come back to our beginnings -- because I think the child lives in the present moment. So, we knew how to do it. Each of us has been present as a child. And then there are times, fortunately, we are present to what we are experiencing. But all the same, for example, I thought that when we went to the cinema, we were magnetized. I only watched the film. But I can clearly see that today there are people at the cinema who are, at the same time, on their telephone. They are doing something else while watching the film at the same time. Therefore, more and more, we see that we are going towards a fast-paced world in which we try to do hundreds of things at the same time. And I know that is not efficient, not effective. That for having done it at a high level of sport, I can see how much I am capable of doing a lot of things at the same time. But what if it demanded my attention? I have to do one thing over and over because that's what I have to do. It's simple. I often ask people who say they want to take care of their children when they come home from work in the evening: Do you really play with the kids or are you still at the office, while nominally playing with your kids? It's what people think they are thinking: I am play make-believe horses or Monopoly; but deep down I'm actually still in the office. Thinking, for example, about the status of an upcoming meeting. So, are we really present to what we do when we do it? Meanwhile, all the animals, all the trees, everything that lives on this earth is present. At the present time. For them, there is no lag and that, too, is soothing when you take the time for it. It's calming. The plant world is associated with the world of trees is much more evolved than us humans. There is a wisdom that we don't go looking for. It is more evolved, more mature, because it has existed for much longer. In comparison, I think we're just teenagers or kids. It's 450,000,000 versus 450,000 years. We have lived for days when they lived for years. There is just a difference in evolution; and in our evolution, we are still in the infancy of our species, even if we feel that we dominate everything and know everything. But we only have one head, when the trees have hundreds or even thousands! When we get our heads cut off, it's complicated. If we cut a root, the tree’s going to continue. For them, there are plenty of ways to continue to live. There is a collective intelligence which develops through this root system. From tree to tree, the roots nourish each other. By reproducing, through a sort of permanent regeneration, they can live to be around 16,000 years old. It's hard for us to live 120 years. Ferns, you set fire to them, they are reborn, like the Phoenix. We would dream of being like that. This is not our reality. All that to say that there is a lot more intelligence in this system than we think.
But for the moment, since the tree does not speak in the same way as us, we ignore it because we only measure the size of the brain to measure intelligence. While the horse has a brain that is not that small, in any case in terms of neocortex, it is very weak, and the prefrontal cortex is almost non-existent. As a result, we deem the animal as dumb. But emotionally, he is our master. And he knows things better than we do emotionally and knows how to handle them better because that's how he survived. In his process of evolution, he had to work harder than us. Because it's prey, it had to figure out how to survive. We worked on other things, that is to say the relationship process, because we couldn't have survived without having group tactics, either to hunt, defend or attack. As a result, we developed other things, but we’ve reached a stage now and I don't know how we’ll evolve and if we will manage to make this planet liveable 200,000 years from now. That’s just half the amount of time animals have been around, from the beginning of the first primates, which was 450,000 years ago. I don't know if we will be nor how we will be. I have no idea; but what I do know is that we are in a process of evolution which is still young and that we do not have the maturity. Consequently, one should be interested in the wisdom of the world as Kipling, Hugo or Goethe said… many great writers who have looked closely at nature have all said the same thing: it is an open book. Just read: it's in front of us!
That’s awesome. I have two questions before I close. The first is in relation to the semantics of this dialogue because I don't know how much you can direct the conversation. Is it your obligation to merely receive this wisdom? Or you can go out there and say you have a specific problem to deal with?
So, yes, I ask questions. I created a protocol for me. But maybe there is no need for this protocol. I am the one using it. It is about welcoming each other. So, for example, if we talk about trees, how do I come into contact with trees? I look at the canopy, the external branches and I stay clear of the tree so as not to be in its energy before starting. And when I arrive at the edge of this energy, already in equilibrium, if I listen to myself, I will see that the energy is changing. It's so impressive. Sometimes, I move forward toward the tree and all of a sudden, I hear sounds that I didn't before. Or on the contrary, when before there were a lot of birds, there I no longer hear anything. And yet I advanced just a meter. The sound should spread. It's as if we were in a bubble, in a field of energy. And like when I come into your energy or I’m in mine, if we're in an intimacy, we feel it with the other, we enter into the field of the other. Yet, people pass under trees and don't listen, don't feel. But if I take the time, much is already happening, so the protocol is to take the time. I take the time to meet this individual. It’s an individual of a class tree, just like I am individual, of the human class. And in this meeting, I take the time to move forward and ideally, I took the time to ask myself the question that I want to ask him. And when I'm going to get closer to the tree, I'm going to find a place that's convenient for me to either hug or lean back or sit; because if it's uncomfortable, usually your thinking is uncomfortable with it. If you don’t have stability, there is no stability in what you are going to say because in fact you are already thinking of moving places because you are not well. So, I look for a place that has a form of stability. I don't have to stay 3 hours. It might be just 1/4 hour, 5 minutes, an hour or more. And so, when I am in this space, the first thing I do is that I consider that it is up to me to give first. What am I going to want to ask? And if I don't know what to do, I always suggest giving some love. There you go, feel love and give it to them. Because it always works. It is a possible conversation with all animals, with everything that lives on this earth. Love works. Everyone needs love. I don't know how to say otherwise, it's an energy that works. It's an energy of natural dialogue and, therefore, it's a kind of introduction. And so when I do that, then I hear this response, and even sometimes when I want to be sure to propose what is needed, I go so far as to ask the tree the question by saying: “What do you have need?” Because there's a part of me -- I've been doing this for years, too – I’ve been caring for trees, healing them. Become aware that sometimes they need energy and, perhaps, the place where they are does not allow them to recover the energy. And we, as we’re mobile, we can connect to other things. Me, I can connect to several trees at the same time and contribute something to another. So, it's possible to function like that, as in a process that I'll call medicine or care. Love is already a form of care in the absolute. Sometimes, I listen to the tree and I hear. I feel what is his request. And then I may have a question and that question could be as simple as an entrepreneur’s question, such as: “I can't make up my mind about this or that, so what should I do?” There, we have a form of dilemma and I'm going to get a response that is not the answer to the dilemma of the day. It won’t be answer A versus answer B. But, perhaps, the answer could be, “To make a decision, center yourself!” If what you hear echoes -- and often it does – the tree is telling me that if I don't know how to center myself, it noticed that. It doesn't answer that way each time, mind you, because that would be a systematic answer. I’ve noticed that for people who don't know how to center themselves, the tree won't respond so directly. He will answer something like: sit down! Or: do what's right first. Of course, it could be a another type of sentence and there, the person tells me that it was clear. I’ve heard statements such as, “Yes, what is right? I know what is right. Because I was at an impasse in terms of thinking, and that was an answer that led me to break the impasse or to realize that I was at an impasse.” And, so, I use questioning. If the question is not clear, then it is normal that your answer is not clear. It's because you actually don't have a question, but that's why I always tell people: just clarify your question! Is that really the question you want? You must accept that if you asked the wrong question that the answer does not suit you. Or if the answer's not clear, it's because maybe your question isn't clear. Refine your question, and when you do so, the answer almost always comes. The rare times when I found that the response for someone was not clear -- including when I, myself, listened less well -- it was because I could clearly see that the person did not know where he was, that there was preliminary work to be done before, which was listening to oneself. Because they weren't the right questions, the answer might have been obvious to the person, saying "I already knew that. I didn't learn anything." Or it's because, in fact, I think they weren't really connected to themselves at that time.
In everything you say I'm thinking of an experience I had with a bot that was empathic. That bot was mine for 5 days. And what's interesting is that as the experience progressed, I realized that I could ask whatever question. And when you have the opportunity to ask any question, how do you do it? Because actually you can ask silly questions, you can ask basic questions. But do you have in mind the real question? Today, and for well over the past 20 years, Google exists for that! For a long time, we have always been able to ask this question, but the way you phrase it makes me think how much we know about the right question, the right prompt?
Of course, that's why the answer isn't just semantic. I would say that it is almost existential. That is to say who I am when I speak? Who speaks when I speak? Am I aligned with my emotional register? Are these my thoughts? Or is it the ego talking? You see, there are many facets of me that can be expressed depending on the situation. And so, as soon as I clarify my thoughts, that's why I tell you that the simplest thing, often when I'm with trees or animals, is not to think. It doesn't mean not being present in my cortex, but it does mean it's quiet. And if there was a thought, there is only one! Which authorizes me not to confuse, for example, my will with my intention. Intention comes from the heart; that's what I want to experience with you in the context of our relationship. The will, the desire, is that I want to form a relationship. So, if I entered into a relationship, the will can evaporate since it’s mission accomplished. And the error is to continue with the will because it will take precedence over the intention. And then, afterwards, if ever there’s movement or activity, it's in the stomach. The energy of the belly is an energy that is potentially volcanic. It is creative, sexual energy. It's a huge energy. It’s the energy of anger, obviously, but also the energy of serenity. And when I calm my belly, I am serene, almost unconsciously, instantaneously. And that's the process. For me, the most important thing is to realize that I have internal energies. That I have to learn to tame them at the start. But, at the end of the day, it's not really about taming. It's just an inner dialogue to calm me down. But at first, maybe it's too strong, so there are -- I'm exaggerating if I say coercive – ways to tame, but it can sometimes feel like that because we're not used to it. It is to manage our energies because it’s telling me that the dialogue with myself – and here I come back to the first part of our conversation, where we started – does not exist. I don't have a clear relationship with myself. But often when I teach relational intelligence, the first question I always ask is, what is the relationship you have with yourself? They sometimes come back to me, saying “What? I don't talk to myself. I am not schizophrenic!” But it's not that that I mean! There aren’t 2 people, but inside you there is definitely your spirit that speaks to another part of you, so at some point we listen to each other, or, in fact, we don't. So, why is it that at some point, when I'm being demanding with myself, that's often when and why I'm demanding of others. If I am complacent with myself, presumably, I will be complacent with others as well. And so, whatever it is: just clarify! And maybe if I'm hard on myself, could I be gentle at times? Then, I can create another relationship of my own. That's what I'm talking about when we talk about an inner dialogue or a dialogue with nature. If I am not clear with myself, the sender, in any case what I am sending, often it is the other who will tell me what he has received. But basically, what he has received is already through his own filters. That's not quite what I sent. So here it is, I am responsible, as Jacques Salomé said, for what I say, and I am responsible for what I hear. But in this exchange, everyone can have a transformation just by speaking.
So, there is another dialogue that I wanted to evoke very quickly, which has really surprised me in recent years. It is the dialogues with people who have Alzheimer's. That is to say people who have lost their memory and therefore perhaps the knowledge of who you are when you speak to them. And therefore, they may have forgotten all that we have experienced together. And for me, it's like sitting next to a stranger that I don't know, with whom therefore I don't have this exchange of memories. I will sit next to him on a bench. What if I don't speak? And we just listened to one another, but without speaking. Then, we could end the conversation by saying, "Thank you, I enjoyed this moment!” Both of us. I am reminded of my godmother who has fallen prey to this disease, but who hasn't completely lost her memory. At times she gets lost, and at other times she is present. And so, I just sit next to her. But, when it was the first time that I saw her, I was a little annoyed for her. I didn't know how to behave. So, I just sat next to her. We were outside, quietly, on a bench. We stayed for an hour. I didn't say much. She didn't say much. Maybe we said a sentence or two each, that’s it! And after that, she said, “I loved the conversation we had.” She wasn't mad at all. She knew very well who I was because she told her daughter that evening: “I was happy to be with Hervé.” So, I've already experienced that several times in my life and so we forget that we don’t have to express words in order to talk to each other. That's it!
Let the silence speak. With that, Hervé: great! I loved it and thank you. I hope everyone listening will be able to take at least a bit of these ideas somewhere else, whether it's with someone close who has Alzheimer’s or it's the next time they’re in a forest, or when they see an animal, let the conversation be beautiful! Thank you, Hervé.
Thanks Miner. It was a real pleasure too.
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About Hervé Franceschi
Hervé Franceschi is a professional speaker (Member of the French Association of Professional Speakers and the Global Speaker Federation), mental trainer and ultimate coach. He offers companies, executives and managers:
- Training workshops to become a speaker and for public speaking
- Lectures or video-conferences on the theme of emotional intelligence, natural leadership and the management of negative emotions (fear, anxiety) as well as positive ones (optimism, benevolence)
He’s an enthusiastic motivational speaker who transmits his teachings with joy and pleasure through memorable coaching, innovative training and inspiring conferences.
Find out more about Hervé here.