“Look at a tree, a flower, a plant, Let your awareness rest upon it. How still they are, how deeply rooted in Being. Allow nature to teach you stillness. ~Eckhart Tolle, Stillness Speaks.
Last week I did a walking meditation in a park. I love to walk but more than anything I love to walk in nature where I am surrounded by sounds of the birds chirping, trees, the smell of fresh air and so I try to make a routine of at least if not once a week, but twice a week of doing some type of walking in nature. In fact, it has become part of our family routine on the weekends. If the weather is good, we know we are going to the nature center for a walk in the woods. There is something about walking with trees. Last week I went to a park by my house that has a small walking trail. Usually this park is blooming with flowers – cherry blossoms, tulips, roses, a little secret garden, a gazebo. But this time, although the air was fresh and it felt like spring – the trees were bare and the grass was dry. We are still coming out of a winter and so just like we are taking time to adjust to the seasons – the plants and the trees are confused. Confused about do I bloom or do I not? Either way, I decided to walk – a walking meditation is just like sitting in meditation where the awareness is on the breath – as you take each step. It felt strange at first doing it because I wondered if someone were to watch me, what would they think I am doing-but then again that was my mind trying to talk me out of it. It lasted for a total time of 15 minutes where the awareness was on the breath as I walked and what was in front of me. All I saw were trees. Tall trees, long huge pine trees, tiny trees, but each of them looked different. Not a single one was alike. I noticed them because they were bare – there were no leaves on them to cover them and each one was so beautiful in their own way. Each tree had a character to it. Some had branches that were intertwined with one another forming a pattern, some had an essence about them in the way they swayed, leaned over, and stood tall. Each tree shined with wisdom. There was something beautiful about walking amongst that and seeing the beauty of each tree. It may sound a little strange to many but for me in that moment, I felt connected to the universe and to creation.
Trees are ancient. They have withstood tornadoes and snow storms. They go through a transformation of some kind. In the winter, they bare all of their leaves, but still stand tall and strong. In the spring, buds begin to bloom and you by summer you have them shining forth their leaves. In the fall they change colors and provide us beauty that is beyond words. And they still remain standing still. They give shelter to the birds – they protect us from the scorching sun, and to us as humans they give us so much. So much of what we use as humans come from trees. I felt a sense of gratitude towards the trees as I walked. But I was also in awe of the wonder of our creator. Every time I see a tree that I feel speaks to me, I am compelled to take a picture. I want to capture the essence of what I think that tree is trying to remind us all of. For me the answer is simple – underneath all the leaves "I am still “that.” Unaffected, strong, gentle, beautiful and compassionate-and it reminded me once again of us as humans and what we must strive to be. Be in the world and act in the world but be unaffected by outside circumstances and remain still. And that we are all connected in this web of life just like the branches form out of the tree, we too spread far and vast -but we must never forget our roots and the essence of who we really are. That is what nature teaches me and that is what the trees taught me.