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Be Like the Trees: 3 Steps in the Art of Mindfulness

Learning to Listen
Learning how to listen to your body and trust in the information coming to you through sensations is so important. Over the last few weeks I’ve taken a little unplanned and unexpected break from my yoga practice. I rarely miss a day, so to wake up in the morning and feel like I didn’t want to go wasn’t an easy feeling to have, mentally speaking.

It started with just two or three days where I didn’t go to the studio. I felt that my body was exhausted and needed a break. Then I wasn’t exhausted anymore, but I didn’t want to go. It didn’t feel like an issue of discipline or laziness, I just felt in my body that I did not want to go. I wanted to write and sleep and do other things.

I decided to listen to my body and over the last twenty one days I’ve only practiced about six times. On the days when I haven’t gone to class, I tend to feel a sense of guilt or hear a critical voice telling me that I “should” go, but by staying mindful and returning to breath I’ve been able to remind myself that it’s okay not to practice somedays.

Identification Issues
Why was this even an issue? Well, it hit me in class today that I have been deriving a large part of my identity with the fact that I usually practice yoga daily. It also became clear to me that when we identify strongly with something that is external to who we are at the core of our being, whether it be a practice of some sort, our career, friendships, a hobby or talent — we can become susceptible to relying on it too much.

This new awareness is another reminder of why it’s good to take time to sit in silence and *feel* who we are. We are not our yoga practice, our job, our children, our guitar playing, our baking.. we’re not any of that.

I think my little break from yoga was my inner wisdom’s way of reminding me to not look externally for validation about how worthy I am as a person. I am valuable and incredible simply because I exist.
Period.

I don’t need to do anything else besides breathe and stand tall to let my light shine and contribute positively to the collective consciousness.

The Trees

About two weeks into my yoga break, while driving down into a valley on the 2 freeway, it seemed that the morning light was communicating in an act of reciprocity with the incredible array of trees that dot the hills of Eagle Rock.

It hit me so hard at that moment that I should strive to be like the trees. They stand still in confidence for the entirety of their life. The only practice they attend to is one of mindfulness.

They breathe in, and breathe out. They stand bare and naked in the world, bold in their beauty, while focusing solely on their purpose — to absorb the carbon dioxide and return life-giving oxygen to the universe.

They grow where they are born — on rocks, in fields, near freeways, on flatlands, the beach… they do not complain about their lot in life. They do not run away and relocate to escape hardships. Instead, they make do with the nutrients provided to them in the soil they were conceived in. They embrace challenges and remain rooted firmly into their place in life.

Trees are so simple, yet they’re each unique. They don’t need to perform or achieve or move to get your attention. We can all see that each tree is individually unique. They all look different and make us feel different things. Just simply by existing they are valuable and important to us.

Wouldn’t it be cool if we could all be a little more like the trees?

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