“You cannot perceive beauty but with a serene mind.” — Henry David Thoreau
Six months ago, I began taking yoga classes at a local instructor’s farm. I’d only done one yoga class before in my life, so I was an apprehensive beginner. The instructor and most of the students in this group were of retirement age, however, so the pace was slow and stately. I started going once a week, then twice, as many times as classes were offered there. I began to realize my intention for serenity, a less fearful and anxious state of mind about my body and my future.
During the six months of class, I was also transitioning out of a relationship that I’d been in for the past 10 years. That relationship had begun eight months after I was widowed. My “Monkey Mind” thoughts were often on my insecurities: my aging, appearance, losses, desires, loneliness.
In times of uncertainty, I find myself reverting to the role of the achiever. I begin to compare myself to others and try for perfection, just like I did as a student. I look for the A+ that will define and validate me. This is not a place to take refuge, however. It is a place of internal stress. Letting go of that role and allowing myself to see myself with acceptance and love brings me closer to serenity. I believe that serenity will manifest as good health and inner beauty. Yoga integrates the awareness of breath, movement, mind. Practicing with intention is transformative. Accepting change with serenity is a very beneficial skill for life, as life is always changing.
My instructor put his farm up for sale last week. He and his wife have been there 40 years. I’m not sure how many more classes he will teach, but this morning, I purchased another ten. I intend to keep practicing. And I intend to make big changes in my life soon, too. Still, I believe I can find Serenity, when I am open to it, in every circumstance. That is the position of tadasana, mountain pose. Thank you, Tina, for inviting us to find Serenity.
Ann-Christine and I share a love of trees. I’m glad for her challenge subject today.
Much of the wisdom of the natural world is about how to sustain life in harmony with others. It turns out that Trees are no exception. They share a unique kind of communication via threads of fungi and operate as a living community. That discovery changes the way I see forests and individual trees completely.
“A tree can be only as strong as the forest that surrounds it.”
“It appears that nutrient exchange and helping neighbors in times of need is the rule, and this leads to the conclusion that forests are superorganisms with interconnections much like ant colonies.”
“We have learned that mother trees recognize and talk with their kin, shaping future generations. In addition, injured trees pass their legacies on to their neighbors, affecting gene regulation, defense chemistry, and resilience in the forest community.”
“If a tree falls in the forest there are other trees listening.”
I feel now more than ever how important it is to conserve larger tracts of land containing whole forests, especially mature growth forests. It’s not enough to plant a tree in the yard. Trees are the lungs of the planet, breathing the oxygen that we all depend on into our world.
“An organism that is too greedy and takes too much without giving anything in return destroys what it needs for life.”
Have you thanked a forest today?
Patti challenges us this morning with a request to see our Favorite Things. Here’s a glimpse of me enjoying my favorite thing —
Yesterday, I was volunteering at the Riveredge Nature Center in a classroom of 5th Graders learning about Pond Interactions.
“Who can define ‘interaction’? The way two things engage with each other – excellent! Now, who knows what we call things that are living or were once living? Good – ‘biotic’ is the right word. What do we call something that was never alive? ‘Abiotic’ – that’s probably not a very familiar word. What do you see here that’s ‘abiotic’? The eyeglasses on my face is a good example. And how do I engage with them? I carry them around on my ears and they help me see. Exactly.”
My favorite things are not things. They are biotic and abiotic energies. Living beings and non-living elements like water, air, warmth, and rock.
In my highest tier of living Favorites would be the family that I helped create. My late husband, who kissed me for the first time exactly 41 years ago today, and the four children that we loved into being.
And because I have four children, I am not practiced at playing favorites and picking out specific individuals for special affection. So I have to say that also in that highest tier is My Favorite Planet – Earth. The whole thing. My favorite part of Earth is that interaction of biotic and abiotic energy that has not been dominated by human technology. Things like water vapor and trees…
…and rock and air and plants…
…and wild animals in their natural habitat.
When I think of the abundance of interactions going on all around, of Life on Planet Earth, how can I judge that anything is out of favor? My preference can’t magnify or diminish any of it. All I can do is reflect on how much I appreciate being part of it, being here to witness and to marvel.
Tina posts a Wild challenge featuring the wildlife of Africa. My response features the designated Wilderness lands of America.
“Wilderness is not a luxury, but a necessity of the human spirit.” — Edward Abbey
“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” — definition of Wilderness from the Wilderness Act of 1964
“In order to assure that an increasing population, accompanied by expanding settlement and growing mechanization, does not occupy and modify all areas within the United States and its possessions, leaving no lands designated for preservation and protection in their natural condition, it is hereby declared to be the policy of the Congress to secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness. For this purpose there is hereby established a National Wilderness Preservation System to be composed of federally owned areas designated by Congress as “wilderness areas”, and these shall be administered for the use and enjoyment of the American people in such manner as will leave them unimpaired for future use and enjoyment as wilderness, and so as to provide for the protection of these areas, the preservation of their wilderness character, and for the gathering and dissemination of information regarding their use and enjoyment as wilderness; and no Federal lands shall be designated as “wilderness areas” except as provided for in this Act or by a subsequent Act.” —from the statement of policy in the Wilderness Act of 1964
“There is just one hope for repulsing the tyrannical ambition of civilization to conquer every inch on the whole earth. That hope is the organization of spirited people who will fight for the freedom and preservation of the wilderness.” — Bob Marshall, Founder of The Wilderness Society
Our challenge this week is about five elements: Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, and Earth. These five elements are based on the Chinese theory of the composition of the world. The theory has influenced Chinese medicine, philosophy, etc. for more than two thousand years.
Amy sets the challenge bar high with her beautiful photos.
This theme invites me to think about being grounded in the natural resources of our planet, to feel the warmth, the solidity, the nurturing flow, and the creative joy of being part of this abundant place.
Imagine a settler’s satisfaction in driving metal into wood, creating a solid foundation for the family’s protection and sustenance. Imagine the relief as warmth is coaxed from the elements of wood, metal and fire. The miracle of water from the heavens and flowing water on the land means that life is possible, that thirst can be quenched, that food will grow, that wood will be replenished.
Imagine that settler’s joy and reverence, knowing from deep, daily experience that the Earth sustains her, her family, her life, her creativity.
Love is like wildflowers;
It’s often found in the most unlikely places.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson