When watching this trailer for Judy Dench's upcoming BBC documentary on trees, it reminded me of a practice in qigong. That is, STANDING LIKE A TREE - an exercise that looks like nothing but in fact, is one of the most energetic, profound and healthful practices you can do for yourself.
The feet are like roots growing, deepening and penetrating the earth thus giving a strong foundation. The head and upper torso are like the branches of the tree reaching for the sun and this sense of oppositional pulling in the body (up and down) allows you to start releasing the rest of the body. With internal space you are growing, listening and becoming aware of the ‘life-force’ inside of you. The tree does not hold itself up, it is aligned beautifully, supported by the earth and the sun, and nourished by the air. Standing Like a Tree teaches us how to follow the same principles.
Furthermore, the tree teaches us about adaptability. Watch how it adapts with ease to the process of the changing seasons. Quiet in the winter, almost rest-like, but working in silence and subtlety getting ready to burst into new life in the spring. And come summer, its branches will be full, providing a shelter and playground for other animals and insects. In Fall it will bear fruit and scatter seeds for future forests before the cycle begins again. Adaptability is key to health and wellness.
All the while, the tree is living and breathing with its entire body, reminding us to do the same. Adapt to the constant changes, allow your breath to penetrate each and every cell in your body. Know that at times you will stand in the sun; at times you will stand in the shade. Learn from the tree and feel the deepest essence of life.