Lessons from a tree
I took this picture while on my walk this morning. I love this tree! As old as it is, this tree has a story it could tell. I would be willing to bet that in it's youth, this tree was on the edge of a farmer's field, with nothing but trees or farmland as far as the eye could see to the west, and as far as Little Lake Butte Des Morts to the east. Now it is nestled by a creek at the edge of an undeveloped lot off of Schildt Park in the Village of Fox Crossings, surrounded by nearby apartments, subdivisions, and not far from the nearest Kwik Trip. Such is the community and world we live in. Ever changing! I once loved a smaller version of this tree when I was a smaller version of myself in rural Minnesota. I used to ride my pony a half mile down the creek by our farm, where Queeny and I would enjoy a lunch by "my" weeping willow tree. But then my little heart was broken when my tree had to be sacrificed for a new field bridge over the creek. It probably wasn't my first heartbreak, but it definitely wasn't my last!
So how does one survive all that heartbreak, all that change, all that trauma? How do we stay whole? Thinking of this beautiful tree, would the trunk withstand even a breeze, much less a storm if not held down by roots? Can the leaves survive without the branches? Can the branches reach to the sky if not held up by the trunk? Can the roots survive if not for the leaves sending down nourishment from the sun, or the leaves survive if not for water from the roots? What an amazing creation the tree is, designed to self-sustain, withstand storms, heal it's wounds from broken branches, grow continually, and even give back in the form of oxygen to the environment and stability for the soil. But even the strongest tree is not going to thrive if it is not continually nourished from outside sources, and able to flow freely inside to distribute them. Like this monstrosity of a tree, we too need nourishment both within and without.
So what is your source of nourishment? If you are thinking food, or water, or air, of course you are right! So much of our internal health is impacted by what physically goes into us. But like sunshine on the leaves of a tree there is also that elusive and often neglected part of our whole being that we refer to as spirit. Is there a someone or something greater than yourself? Do you have a purpose in life? Are you allowing yourself to receive love, give love, experience joy, and be thankful? Are you aware and curious about what is going on around you and within you? If you've been healthy, financially secure, surrounded by caring family or friends, perhaps all these things are easy. When you've had trauma, pain, loss, or have struggled with mental illness or loneliness, you may feel like you are frozen, stuck in a state of brokenness. Where do you even begin?
Sometimes the point is to begin, wherever that might be. Start with one small step. There are so many small steps it could be. The body, the mind and the spirit are all interconnected, and greater well-being in one area can grow out of improving wellness in another area. For today, lets start with a couple lessons from a tree. Here are a few activities that can improve your internal awareness and can be that one small step:
-Turn your face up toward the sun with eyes closed and really feel how sensitive your skin is, and how amazing it is to be touched by warmth.
-Take a long drink of water, and imagine each cell of your body soaking it up.
-Take a few deep breaths and imagine your breath filling each limb to the tips of your toes and fingers. Feel how your posture starts to feel supported from within!
-Stand holding onto the kitchen sink with your eyes closed and imagine yourself growing deeper and deeper roots into the floor with each breath (or sit and grow roots into a chair if you aren't able to stand). Feel how stable you start to feel!
-Now imagine a fluid flow of nutrients from your imagined roots to the canopy on the top of your head and back with each breath cycle. Do you realize that every move of your diaphragm muscle to produce breath also helps move fluids in your body.
I hope you find these exercises to be calming, or energizing. But in any case, observe what happens and allow yourself to be curious about the experience within your body.
If you haven't figured this out already, I love visualizations, and feel they especially help with improving mind/body connection and awareness. However, If you are not so inclined, at least enjoy the rest of these pictures from my morning walk. Let the pictures step you up into these massive tree trunks with me and look up into the beauty of creation with awe! And please don't forget to acknowledge that you too are a beautiful creation!
Thanks for joining me today in this read!
Bethany Kempfert, PT
Boundless LLC: Myofascial Release and Physical Therapy
The Boundless Mission:
To empower each individual to achieve their body's maximal self-healing potential by treating the whole person - mind, body and spirit!