Source: Felix Mittermeier/Pexels
From shamanistic stories to the Garden of Eden to the concept of genealogy, the tree occupies a central place in the human imagination. Who among us hasn’t put our hands on the trunk, felt the roughness of the bark, looked up at the lattice of leaves, and then looked down to notice the extension of its roots? Some of the pines near me reach dizzying heights and when I (Gillian) walk by them, they cause awe. Even in our secular culture, many people plant a tree when their child is born, or oversee the growth and growth of maple, ash, birch, or aspen in their yard or in a nearby park. We can measure the various periods in our lives and how they grow.
For the Siberian shaman, the big tree at the center of the world connects the underworld, our world and heaven. It was from this big tree that the shaman made a drum, which he then used to heal and find those who were lost. Trees are great backbones connecting all realms. This tree has its own secrets and wisdom to offer.
One of the teachings a tree can share is that growth and flourishing, and fruit in the right season, needs to be deeply anchored in the soil. This is a perfect example of the comprehensive development of human beings. Often in contemporary culture, especially American culture, there is an implication that full development requires jumping into uncharted territory and severing ties to the past.think the great gatsby With its fictitious name and fictitious history. However, as we have seen in Fitzgerald’s novel, this is a dangerous delusion.
Of course, one way to root and avoid Gatsby’s fate is to focus on one’s religious, cultural, and family history, as we’ve written about in previous posts. When family history is questionable (and who is somehow OK?), there is still an opportunity to identify with the positive aspects of traditions and shape them in a way that works in the current situation. One of the most obvious manifestations of this during a pandemic is a return to old family recipes as we all try to stay grounded in solid, familiar and stable ways.
Then there is the opportunity to anchor yourself in nature.as Williams Natural Repair (2017), “Scientists are quantifying nature’s impact on mood and well-being, as well as on our ability to think—the ability to remember things, plan, create, daydream, and focus.” (11). I suspect most readers don’t need a research article with footnotes to convince them of this. We have lived experience that a simple brisk walk in a forest, along a lake or in the ocean is the quickest way to regain balance, clear your mind, and enter a state of openness and calm.
Another way to take root is in the body itself, and many mindfulness classes teach the practice of getting back to the body by focusing on the breath.yoga asana asana (Tree Pose) is a pose that troubles many of us and requires us to maintain our balance — firmly on the base of our feet while extending our arms upward. Not so easy. This pose requires instant awareness and a constant search for balance. So there is no permanence – it is an ongoing process of finding that point that allows for balance.
in her book between heaven and earth (2008) biologist and lifelong tree enthusiast Nalini M Nadkarni noted that, like us, trees leave traces of any trauma as they grow as they respond to the influence of gravity and wind (31). Anyone who has visited the Canadian Shield will have seen pines flow permanently in one direction under the weight of high winds and the snow they weather. Trees do not emerge from their growth unmarked or unchanged, and neither do we.
So I’m inspired by these great teachers, wherever they are – from where I’ll grow, from rock walls, jack pine to birch yummy, and the maddening and suggestive stoked hate on the internet Norway Maple. They all have their own stories to tell, and this is just one of them. They are endless wonders, and at this point in my life journey, they inspire me to stay firmly on the ground while continuing to expand and stretch and try to reach out to the possibilities.