“Be like a tree, and let the dead leaves drop.” ~Rumi
I reconnected with this metaphor that I have always loved by the 13th century Sunni Muslim poet and mystic as I was reflecting on a beautiful paragraph from Loraine Van Tuyl’s book, Amazon Wisdom Keeper: A Psychologist’s Memoir of Spiritual Awakening.
When she was 18, Loraine was asked to portray a tree during a dance audition. She decided to begin as a seed, planting her feet firmly and allowing her body to crack and burst open. “Once I stood tall,” she writes, “I felt elated, more rooted, authentic, beautiful, alive, and fulfilled than in all my years of dancing…”
Loraine joined us as a guest speaker during one of our group workshops. When I asked her about her relationship with trees, she shared that growing up as a young girl in the jungle helped her believe in a power bigger than herself. Her unique relationship with trees helped her to discover her spirituality.
Be like a tree: What does it mean?
A tree is stable, strong, and sturdy. Its roots grow deeply into the ground, allowing it to stand firmly in its place.
Whenever I spend time in nature looking at the trees around me, I feel the endless energy of the life force. Reminding myself to “be like a tree” is very valuable for me.
Being like a tree means being like the roots: creating a deeper connection with Mother Earth, being present in the now, and always growing beneath the surface, resilient and strong enough to lift up the concrete sidewalks of the city.
Being like a tree means being like the branches: extending ourselves outward as far as we can reach.
Being like a tree means being like the leaves: opening ourselves to change, learning to let go, and allowing ourselves to renew.
Be like a tree: How do you do it?
Here are a few ideas. Allow your intuition and creativity to guide you, and have fun finding additional ways to be like a tree.
- Spend time in solitude with nature. Observe a tree. Touch it. Hug it. Explore it, being mindful and present all the while.
- Close your eyes, and visualize a tree. Visualize yourself looking at the tree, touching it, hugging it, exploring it, and feeling its energy.
- Visualize yourself moving your body. Imagine yourself becoming a tree like Loraine did in the description above.
- Stand next to a tree. Gaze at the tree, and feel a connection with Mother Earth. Stretch your arms up to the sky like branches, and ground the soles of your feet to the earth like roots.
Let the Dead Leaves Drop
Rumi didn’t say “shed the leaves” or “watch the leaves drop.” He said, “LET the dead leaves drop”.
In order to be in a place of ALLOWANCE, we’ve got to have a solid foundation–a strong connection to our roots, our trunk, our branches, our leaves.
Think about it:
Why do some trees bend but not break in heavy winds, while other trees detach from the ground and fall?
And what happens over time to a tree that was hit by a storm?
What first may look like mortal wounds is actually a process of renewal. Trees have an amazing ability to recover from storm damage.
So do we.
A storm, a crisis, a pain, or a challenge can be the best thing that ever happened to you once you learn the spiritual lesson and turn it into an opportunity.
For me, that’s what spirituality is all about.
Creating and maintaining a spiritual connection allows us, in times of need, to pick ourselves up off the ground, stand back up on our own two feet, and grow.
Practice #10 of the 12 Practices for Living at Full Power is Rise and Shine! (Get a colorful copy of the 12 practices for free here!)
Next time you face a challenge, BE LIKE A TREE. Find a connection to something bigger than yourself. Spend time in nature and learn from the trees. And then, let the dead leaves drop so you can RISE AND SHINE!