When I took this photo, I was captured by the stark contrast of shadowy limbs holding light layers of fresh snow. Then, I noticed the way each limb extended into smaller veins, each ending with a small plump bud, some shaped like hearts. It stuck me how I was observing the life force of this tree and how in the depths of barren winter, the tree had thriving energy running through its roots, its trunk, every branch and every limb. Vitality stored up in those heart-shaped buds.
I thought about the way the tree manifests mindfulness, how it is rooted in the supportive ground and holds stillness in its trunk as its branches move with the changing weather. Graceful, unbroken, mostly stable. How it takes in oxygen, its own breath of life and draws nutrients from the ground and energy from the sun. How it breathes and restores itself in a life giving way. And I thought about its place in the world. A patient observer, listening and paying attention to the world resting on its limbs or under its shade or quickly passing by. The tree stands still, watching and listening, but never uprooting its own stability. Only bending within its natural limits, it contributes to our collective energy without compromising its own integrity.
This tree that stands outside my window view is my daily reminder, a undemanding invitation to mindful practice. To be rooted in the ground, tune into the layers of sound, and breathe in and out with the energy of life. To invite stillness into my day and bend with change rather than break. To be an observer of my ever-shifting thoughts and connect more deeply with the life force running through my own trunk and limbs. To reserve some of my own vitality, so I can bloom beauty and connection from my own budding heart without compromising my centered self.
It seems the natural world is brimming with mindful moments, daily invitations to pause and notice life's subtle and awe inspiring gifts. It is my mindfulness teacher. It is my spiritual life force.