To Be a Tree

To Be a Tree

I watch people fall and try not to fall myself, as I stand in yoga class, balancing in tree pose. In this particular pose, I breathe and and stand on one leg. I see the arms of my classmates. Some reach skyward, and some spill from their posture. There is a trick you learn over time with continual yoga practice: focus on something stable, and your body will remain stable. If you focus on what is falling, you are likely to fall yourself. 

There's been a recent battle in my head, and it goes a little like this: I'm tuned into myself. Grounded. And then, I look around, and I begin to notice others. I see the way others are living — the things they are valuing, pursuing, reaching for. I see that it's different from what I'm doing, and I begin to question myself, my convictions, my values. The sight jars me, and I begin to topple. 

The notion of being at home in ourselves has been rolling around in my mind for a while. Our body is the vessel that carries us through this life. But we spend so much time uncomfortable in it. Trying to get away from it or change it. We so easily lose touch with the core of who we are — our calling and our guiding values. And as a result, we lose balance and begin to fall.

When I'm in tree pose, sometimes I think of the Buddhist stories about being like trees. The emotions you experience in life will pummel you. You will feel like winds are whipping your branches in a storm. Although the circumstances appear dire, the tree is solidly planted, rooted in the earth. I can often feel like I'm only the branches, moved violently by each gust, nearly blown apart.

But those are the times I forget, I am the tree. Although I am moved, there is a part of me that remains grounded. If I remain in my body — connected to the core of me — I find a steadiness. I can remain firmly planted even when the winds envelop me. And in this steadiness and this presence in my body, I can almost begin to forget myself.

I am still holding on. Pressing in, I sense my foot on the ground and look at something stable. I feel my body steady, my limbs ease. I am here, but I am no longer focusing on myself. The best part of being at home in yourself is to almost forget you are a self at all.