As a child growing up, some of my best adventures were experienced in the woods behind my house. Climbing trees in an effort to make it up high enough to catch a glimpse of the back of my house was the ultimate goal. Once perched securely up in the crook of a tree I would stare out amongst the neighboring crowns of other sister trees. Unbeknownst to me the stillness provided in that space soothed my restless spirit. I’m certain as a youngster I never understood exactly what it was about those trees that provided such comfort and inspiration.
Fast forwarding to today, my love of being amongst trees elicits this precise sense of wellbeing. No, I haven’t attempted climbing any trees as of late; nevertheless, a walk in the forest or sauntering down a lane under a canopy of trees never disappoints. A recent find, a book titled The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben, substantiates why I have been a faithful apprentice since childhood.
Most trees, given the right conditions, will outlive most of us. I think it’s fair to say they withstand more seasons of change, thriving against incredible odds than many of us comprehend. Storms, wildfires, insect infestation and droughts are just a few conditions that assault these mighty teachers. The lessons are plentiful from nature if you and I are paying attention and if we are humbled by the fact all humanity and elements of nature are interconnected. Think back when you were visually awestruck by a scene unfolding before you in nature. Can you remember a time you experienced a stirring deep inside while bearing witness to a magnificent sunset, the first snowfall or perhaps the autumn leaves showcasing their deep vibrant reds, oranges and yellows? Ahhh….. those trees have so much to teach us. They delight in demonstrating going slow, digging their roots in deep, and taking care of each other.
Wohlleben’s book reminded me that trees live their lives in the slow lane, acutely aware of all that is occurring in order to survive and thrive. Trees know that strength is developed over time and with great patience.
This concept of slowness is sorely underrated for us humans. The notion of taking it slow somehow seems to be in direct conflict with cramming in as much as we can in a day, staying ahead of the game and keeping up with internally driven expectations. Yet, taking time to pace oneself is exactly what is needed to be in tune with what the mind, body and spirit needs to sustain itself over the long haul.
I have witnessed people I care deeply about suffer greatly from mounting stress, sleep deprivation and unruly schedules. It’s a lie we all, at one point or another, have told ourselves. You know the story, “I just need to get through these next few months.” “I’m built to work exceptionally hard; my mind is good at overruling what my body thinks it needs.” “People depend on me.” Or….. “I don’t know what I would do if I slowed down; I might be bored.” Just the other day, I heard a friend utter, “Who am I then, if I am not doing ______?
The list of rationales is long and seemingly compelling. I’ve been there too, plenty of times. The journey can be exhausting in trying to be something other than what you are, pleasing others or simply ignoring the need for restorative practices.
Today, for the umpteenth time I am reminded to take a lesson from the trees. Checking in to notice what is out of kilter, what is depleted, what is being ignored? An awakening or healing of a different kind can emerge when time is created to saunter more, pay attention……. breathe. Additionally, we humans, not unlike the trees can only be as strong as the forest that surrounds it. Take an inventory of who and what you surround yourself for optimum growing conditions, good health and creating space for true healing to emerge.
A radical act of non-doing or perhaps just downshifting to invite slowness will untangle the spell you’ve been under, the lie you may have told yourself about the necessity for more and faster. In just a few short weeks the holidays will be upon us toting expectations and adding more stressors. Heed advice from the trees. Surround yourself with people and activities that nourish not deplete.
Go Slow. Saunter. Notice. Connect with Nature.
Take a walk amongst the trees.
Blessings for peace,
Pause, Breathe, Proceed,
* Warning engaging in periodic sauntering, slowing down and connecting with nature may be just what is needed to assist with the day after the election hangover.