OPENING TO STILLNESS
Choosing stillness is not easy when the mind aches with anxiety.
Getting busy with controlling, fixing, doing may feel like temporarily alleviate anxiety. But stillness is actually what is most needed in order to hear the whispers of the heart, respond mindfully, and grow.
Insert too much distraction and we interfere with the magic. Again, just look at the caterpillar who gives way to the chrysalis. Sustained stillness in chrysalis makes inevitable flight possible.
Stillness is an opening that offers space and time for the unforeseen. It frees our intuition and capacity to collaborate with chance. It's the key that unlocks the door to the co-creative universe.
Practicing stillness is perhaps what meditation is really all about. To still the mind and the body is to move into a state of allowing.
Isn't that what a caterpillar does when it sheds its full skin, attenna, feet and face?
There is much here for us to experience and reclaim.
STAR ROSE BOND
Why the brain needs stillness to thrive.
Star and I sat down again together to talk about stillness and the brain. Star shares profound wisdom that makes immediate sense and is reassuring as we come back into mindful connection to self.
The Buddha Tree
I often wonder – could the real Buddha actually have been the Bodhi Tree, and not the man?
The story of the Buddha's path to enlightenment is a fascinating one. He left his position as prince and forgave of his riches and royalty to wander in a state of poverty in search of the true meaning of life. He met many wise teachers along the way, but none was as wise as the Bodhi tree. Sitting still at the base of the tree, the Buddha learned humility, compassion, and the art of witnessing – all of which had been lost to him in the duality of modern living. So, again I wonder? What if the Bohdi tree was the true Buddha – and Sidhartha the willing student?
This week, your work is to find our own personal Buddha tree. This will be a powerful experience. Trees are the most prolific teachers in the world. They root into the soil of soul, rise up with the strength and integrity of back bones, and reach for the magic of stars. They know all about stillness and witnessing – and how it leads to strength, growth, and new heights of awareness.
A note on weather.
If you are somewhere cold and the trees are drenched in snow and/or the weather is not inviting for a walk outside, then a tree or house plant will do. One 'Way of the Monarch' member connected with a small Bonsai tree for the experience. Trees and plants crave affection, and all still and observant.
Your Buddha Tree.
You don't have to go far to find your own Buddha tree. Sidartha wandered for years and great distances before he finally came full circle and settled down quietly at the base his tree. Almost any tree in your community can offer you the mentoring you need. Perhaps one even in your own backyard?
Here is what you're looking for:
A tree that is straight up and mature enough to offer you a strong trunk to lean up against.
An environment around the tree that is clear enough so that the morning light shines on the tree.
A tree that is somewhat private (not on a busy road) so you may feel at peace when visiting your tree and free to commune.
Once you find your tree, you're ready to practice dropping into a state of gratitude and stillness. Our whole body cries out for a way to reconnect to the still point of life. Trees. They know.
This is a morning practice that includes drawing in the warmth and love of the rising sun. So pick a time in the morning when the sun shines on your tree.
Fill a canteen with water that you will pour as a gift at the base of your tree.
Stand in front of your tree and take in the fullness and beauty of your teacher. Ask the tree for permission to enter its energy field. When you feel ready, take off the cap of the canteen and offer your gratitude out loud for water's gift of life. Pour the water at the tree base, with love.
When ready, move to the side of the tree that faces the sun, clear the ground and sit cross legged (or stand if the ground is wet or frozen) with your back leaning up against the tree and the back of your head resting up against the trunk. At an energetic level, let the root of your being mingle with the roots of the tree.
Once you've settled, close your eyes and listen. Join the tree in its habitat and receive your environment. Just 'be' for as long as you wish and are comfortable. Listen with your ears and your heart. Rest your eyes. When ready, open your eyes again and soften your gaze. Take in your environment without judgement, just love.
When you feel ready to leave, tilt your head back and take in the sky through the canopy of the tree and breath deeply. Then stand, turn towards the tree and bow – the spirit in you bows to the spirit of your tree. Take a photo of your tree to keep and share in our community circle. Believe it or not, but your tree loves affection. You will have done much for the circle of life with this practice.
MY BUDDHA TREE
When I moved from Berkeley to San Diego in 2016, I felt displaced and lonely. The move was essential, but I had left my dearest friends and extended family behind. In search of a real friend in my new surroundings, I walked the lagoon near my home in search of a tree I could call friend.
Many trees called to me, but not as much as one particular grandmother eucalytpus who I could see was an over-giver. She held out large sweeping branches that appeared to cuddle and protect saplings nearby. She looked parched and hungry with layers and layers of old leaves and bark blocking her roots from collecting the rain.
I named my new friend, Hilda. The name just came to me when I asked out loud for guidance. Looking up the meaning for the name, I came across this:
"You are possibly intelligent, intuitive, graceful, and even a psychic. Interest in spirituality and mysticism is a strong possibility in your quest for truth."
Yes! This fit! Here is a picture of Hilda from that first day along with a close up of her smile that greeted me at her base. Do you see the face of an old woman who is happy to connect?
I visited with Hilda every day for a year (I was so lonely for a friend). And miraculously, as I cuddled Hilda, a "greening" appeared. And then one day, I kissed her trunk and my kiss remained for nearly a year! Friends, I do believe all beings on earth are intelligent and find ways to communicate across species. It is we humans who have lost the art. But, when we practice opening our hearts, we may come back into intimate connection with all of life.
See the kiss? Look even more closely. Do you see the small heart above it?
This heart appeared upon my return one day after a week away on vacation. She missed me. I'm telling you – this is real. The love. The greeting. Trees are the greatest teachers and friends you'll ever have.
What did you feel and observe while communing with your Buddha tree?