A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a family wedding in California. We decided to extend our stay for a bit and visit a few state parks. We ate some amazing seafood, indulged in a local lavender IPA (yum!), and dipped our toes in the beautiful Pacific Ocean. However, the highlight of the trip was the TREES.
The redwood trees on the west coast are some of the oldest and biggest living organisms on Earth. I’m emotionally overwhelmed simply contemplating that fact. These trees felt like wise, ancient beings. They were strong and steady, anchored to Earth by complex root systems. They were magnificent.
Both of my favorite tree encounters had names. The Giant, pictured here, is 1,300+ years old and 50+ feet in circumference. I couldn’t help but strike a tree pose! In yoga, we use the phrase “ground down” to help students feel a sense of stability and strength in a pose. It’s a hard feeling to describe with words – equally felt both physically in the body as well as energetically in the mind.
Practicing tree pose next to The Giant not only felt extra strong and stable, but I also felt steady in my mind and calm in my heart.
I literally felt connected to something bigger.
The next magical encounter was a circular family of trees referred to as The Cathedral. The trees are all descendants of one mother tree that once stood in the center of the circle. I sat on the stump of Mother and pointed my camera towards the sky to take this photograph. When a mother tree dies, a new generation sprouts up around it using the nutrients from the root system of the original parent to grow.
Their root systems are not deep or singular. They are shallow and span widths of over a hundred feet, supporting and protecting each other from storms, floods, and fires. Of all the churches I’ve visited, this one is my favorite. Sitting in the center of The Cathedral made me think about all the people in my life that support and protect me.
I felt grateful to be a part of a loving family.
As summer comes to a close and autumn emerges, how are you staying grounded? What is anchoring you to the things that matter most? How are you practicing gratitude? Each time roll out my mat or sit on my meditation cushion, I have an opportunity to ground myself and cultivate gratitude for all that I have. It’s what keeps me coming back to the practice and inspires my teaching.
One of my favorite things to do for Unfold (aside from teaching!) is to create wellness offerings that cultivate connection and gratitude. We’re excited to announce, back by popular demand, we’re offering our 21-Day Meditation Challenge, Fall Into Gratitude. This program will help you to start a consistent meditation practice using gratitude and loving kindness as your guide. We also have a new presentation on tap, Cultivating Kindness, in honor of World Kindness Day on November 13th. Kindness is innate – find out how to cultivate kindness towards yourself and others as means to a happier, healthier life.
Thanks for reading – I hope to connect with you soon.