Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Tree that Bends In the Wind

In my yoga class yesterday, the instructor told us to breathe in and hold the breath as we envisioned ourselves sitting on top of our breathe, much like sitting on top of a mountain looking at everything below us.  A mountain perch, a bird's eye view of all that supports us. Then she said, release the breath, bend forward over your body until hands reach the floor and belly meets the spine, going from the macro to the micro as our yoga practice takes us inward to our core, letting go of all that once was, letting go of breath. And hold. She explained, and I'm paraphrasing, that 'the letting go' was the most important part of that whole sequence, because in that letting go, was 'the letting be' of what is. In that moment is one's acceptance of change, acceptance of feelings toward that change, and acceptance of life as a dynamic process that never stays the same from moment to moment, breath to breath.  Breathing, she told us, mimics the dynamic nature of life. It comes in and it goes out. It is here,  now it is there. Here is one way, there is another. The wave rushes up, the wave washes out.

So many of us want things to stay the same, we want things to never change or we want things to go back to 'normal'. We want to stand rigid against the wind foolishly thinking that if we resist the force, we will win the battle and life will continue on as it always has. But have you ever seen a tree stand rigid against the wind? The wind will always win when the tree stands in defiance, the tree almost always breaks when it resists the wind.  On most windy days, I watch the trees bend with the wind, allowing the wind to blow through it's branches, leaving the tree standing perhaps a bit worn for the wear, but still standing. The tree accepts the wind, allows the wind to wash over it and through it, the tree does not resist or struggle, it just bends. Nor does the tree expect the wind to never blow; how else does the tree know about wind? Suffering lives in resistance; the resistance to forgive, to acknowledge ourselves as powerful, to apologize, to be flexible, to be kind. Peace lives in flow, change and acceptance.  Even painful and damaging circumstances have the opportunity to transform, transcend and be seen from a new perspective.

Dan Millman, in his book The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, writes:  "There is no problem, never was, and never will be. Release your struggle, let go of your mind, throw away your concerns, and relax into the world. No need to resist life, just do your best. Open your eyes and see that you are far more than you imagine. You are the world, you are the universe; you are yourself and everyone else, too!"  Dan Millman writes about Life as a mystery, and how we will not be able to figure everything out about what makes the universe tick. When we struggle to understand everything about it, we endeavor to the point of frustration.  How bored my mind will be when I 'wake up' to find that there is no problem to fix, no puzzle to solve, no physical symptom to cure! 

But how can I write these words about transformation and peace against the backdrop of so much suffering and disaster in the world. I know you will conjure up images when I mention Chile, Nepal and Baltimore. You may ask me if I have the right to find my own peace when so many others are clearly suffering.  Is it not selfish for me to find my way when others are lost? On the other hand, what good am I to others if I, like them, can not see the tree through the forest, the oasis through the smoke? If I can see where the path is, am I not responsible to alert others to it's location as well? If I am 'more than I ever imagined and work to do my best' as Dan Millman suggests,  for me and my community,  if I can see the tranformative power of the present moment through a simple breath, as my yoga teacher taught me, then peace doesn't stay contained just within me.  It can only radiate out from me.

Interested in finding a Life Coach?
Find Ellen Leon Rosoff at Elleon Coaching

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