This year seems to be turning into the Year of the Tree (Pose) for me. Let me explain…
I had the pleasure of attending a yoga retreat hosted by the lovely and talented Naomi Gottlieb-Miller (HIGHLY recommend). It was a last-minute invite but things were nuts in my life at the time so the idea of spending a quiet weekend away was VERY appealing.
It was an awesome weekend – we ate delicious organic food, practiced yoga, journaled, meditated, and I even got the most divine massage. The world was quiet and calm.
On the final day, during morning practice, the theme of the mediation and subsequent journaling exercise was “I want to be the type of person who…” My journal contains this statement: “I want to be the type of person who is like a tree.”
Vrksasana, or Tree Pose, has always been one of my favorites – it’s comforting to me, just feels right. When you look at the symbolism, it’s easy to see why I am drawn to it.
- Trees are rooted deeply in the ground while their branches reach toward the sky
- Trees are strong, flexible, and extremely resilient – able to withstand harsh winds and brutal elements
- Trees provide shelter for many creatures, produce oxygen, clear carbon dioxide, and provide warmth when cut down and burned
- Trees self-lessly sustain other forms of life even during times when invasive plants and insects are gradually and silently sucking the life out of them
But the quality that I’ve come to appreciate the most is the tree’s ability to shed its leaves. This serves two key protective purposes for the tree: (1) it enables the tree to handle the weight as winter snow and ice pile up and (2) by shedding the dead leaves, the tree makes space for new growth.
Hmmmm…pretty smart, huh? Ditch the old stuff to gain strength and make room for new stuff. I like it! But sadly, I’m not a tree, I’m human and “letting go” always sounds an awful lot like “giving up” to me. I have full faith and confidence in my ability to do anything I put my mind to. So, when faced with a challenge, I simply cannot stop until I get it done. Admittedly, I’d burn myself out trying to make everything right with the world. Despite all my best efforts, lately there have been several tasks not completed, several goals not achieved, and several relationships not resurrected. And yet I refuse to stop trying…because it feels like quitting. If the trees are wise enough to lose the unnecessary burden of the stuff that is dead and gone, why couldn’t I be?
Somehow I survived the Winter carrying the load of dead leaves and heavy snow but it was – and continues to be – extremely exhausting. Now, I’ve found myself in Spring as my life is filling with so many great things but unless I release these old, dead leaves there really isn’t any room for these new opportunities.
Some of these dried up leaves represent people who were once very dear to me. The persistent, determined Alison wants desperately to hold on and try to resurrect these relationships but lately the truth is that I’m tired — tired of carrying dead weight through these long, hard months; tired of trying to rekindle lost friendships; tired of always trying to make it work; tired of relieving others of their obligations to nurture and maintain connections; tired of being a shelter for those who drain me.
And as I started to release my grip on these lifeless relationships, I had a crystal clear view of the thriving relationships that were all around me. When I stopped trying to sustain the leaves that were already dead and gone, I had more to give to the ones that were still going strong. Because during this time of great loss and unimaginable heartbreak, I was completely surrounded by love and support – many people did not let our connection fade away (despite my often unpleasant demeanor..sorry friends) and several new unexpected relationships sprung to life as well.
Those that loved me when I was at my worst, who saw through all the pain and anger and believed I was still in there somewhere even when I didn’t believe it myself – these are the people I owe all I am to. My guardian angels. It’s time my energy goes to the ones who cared enough about our relationship to not let it die; however, to do that I have to stop crossing oceans for those who wouldn’t jump a puddle for me (thanks for the reminder, Melio).
You’ll meet people whose presence in your world is so significant and life-changing that you’ll believe, without any doubt, that they were meant to be a massive part of your life. But the reality is that sometimes we’re meant to find people only to ultimately lose them. I have a lot of difficulty wrapping my brain around it when these people leave because I always look for the lesson in the “meeting” but often the lesson is actually in the “leaving”.
Whatever the lessons are in my current situation, I’ll eventually find them. In the meantime, I’ll have a ton more strength and space for the awesome new stuff coming down the pike if I just make like a tree and let the dead leaves drop.