I’ve always loved trees.
I grew up in the woods and, not having many playmates, spent much of my time up in a tree. Even if I had friends, I’d prefer the company of trees and nature. As a child, and often as an adult, they feel kinder, gentler; are accepting, inviting, and wise.
Sitting in the trees, I came to know their trunks and branches. I felt accepted and safe. I talked to the trees and they listened. I felt their understanding, compassion, and non-judgment. I felt their resiliency and strength.
Today, I live in nature, surrounded by jungle life and incorporate plant medicine in my healing practice. I also teach yoga. Vrksasana is tree pose. In Sankskrit, vrks is tree and asana is posture. In vrksasana, we balance on one leg and press the sole of the other foot into the standing leg. If you press hard, the standing leg roots down. Raising your arms above your head, we “grow our branches.”
Vrksasana helps improve one’s balance and centeredness. And as trees do, we often sway in this asana. Test your balance and look up or close your eyes — you’ll really sway!
During storms at night while we are safe in our homes, trees are exposed to the elements. They are battered with harsh winds and stinging rains. How do they do it? How do they withstand such an assault?
In part, centeredness. Their roots often reach deep down into Mother Earth and anchor their core into the Universe.
And, they yield to the forces of nature. If they didn’t bend, they’d break.
We, too, ought to be flexible during the storms of our lives. We, too, are anchored to the Universe. Building strength during a yoga practice; finding your edge, falling out of the asana and getting back in; allowing your breath to help you through the harder moments; opening your heart; and savasana, final surrender. A yogi takes their practice off their mat.
During a meditative yoga session several years ago, I began to astral travel. In one travel, I journeyed in a boat to an island wood across the ocean. Getting out of the boat, I saw my father as he stood behind an azalea bush. He smiled at me.
My father died twenty years ago.
I entered the woods, I was met by a mighty oak tree. Big and round, twisting branches that reached every which way, Tree greeted me warmly. He expected me. I say ‘he’ because there was a grandfatherly feel about him.
I leaned into Grandfather Tree and outstretched my arms on his rough bark. My head turned to one side, my heart against his trunk, we hugged. I felt my heart pound in my chest. It filled with warmth. I felt Grandfather Tree hold my heart and mend its cracks. Such love, I smiled.
I stood in front of Tree and ran my fingers over his weathered bark; my fingertips fell into deep crevices. I was reminded of my father’s hands. Large and tough, they too, had battled through life. As in my childhood, I felt safe and loved in the woods, amidst the trees.
I turned to look at the other tall trees that towered around me. Unlike Grandfather Tree, their branches were thirty feet up. As the wind rustled softly through their leaves, they spoke to me. They talked of resiliency and perseverance; centeredness and strength; of reaching towards the Heavens and trusting the Universe.
They encouraged me. The word courage comes from the Latin word, cor, which means heart. They wanted me to open my heart; to be brave; to love and trust myself; to open and use my gifts; to know that I KNOW; that I am of Divinity and therefore, Divine.
I exited the woods and got back in Boat that brought me over. As Boat returned me safely to shore, I tucked the love I received from Grandfather Tree and the wisdom I gleaned from the tall trees deep into my marrow. I knew I’d need it one day. I also knew that I knew what my gifts were and how I was to use them. I knew my answer to the question everyone asks: why am I here?
I remembered before I reentered this world, I just didn’t remember now!
“How was class?” the instructor asked.
I shared my experience with her.
“I didn’t say your father was there. And I didn’t tell you to get out of the boat,” she replied, curtly.
“Isn’t that the point of life?” I asked, amused at her response, “To get out of the boat?”
Why do we cower in the safety of our boat and not experience the life around us? Why do we fear? What do we fear?
Trees are our elders. Say good morning to a tree as you walk past.
Listen and you can hear them talk.