Reflections from a long and powerful meditation on the waterfront in Queenstown, New Zealand.
A tree is the ultimate teacher in the practice of meditation. A tree spends its existence sitting in its own silence, even amidst the noise and chaos that surrounds it. In contact with the earth at all times, it excels at stillness, only its branches, like hair, blowing in the wind. It never ceases to breathe -- it exists to breathe -- taking in carbon dioxide and exhaling the oxygen that is required for our life. In this way, the tree exists in a state of giving, whatever the world requires for joy and life: oxygen, shade, shelter, wood, recreation.
It doesn't question its purpose on earth, to provide these things, It doesn't stop breathing, being. It doesn't open eyes to gaze out at the chaos with any sense of judgement. It sits, rooted in the earth, and breathes -- even when the bees swarm, the rain falls, the children climb, the young woman leans against its trunk to read. In silence, it sits and breathes, never ceasing its powerful meditation. In this stillness, this silence, it exudes life; it emits from it energy, smells, colors, soft rustling, fresh air, in which all those in witness rejoice. The tree is respected, revered, a subject of dreams and poetry, though it has never spoken a word. The tree will exist in this state of joyous nirvana until a power greater than it ends its life.
If you want to meditate but are struggling to find your own silence in the midst of life's chaos, try sitting beneath a tree. Gaze upon it and extend to it a thanks for its life-sustaining gifts and deep wisdom. And then join in its meditation, Close your eyes and breathe along with the tree, focusing on your constant exchange of oxygen for carbon dioxide, rejoicing in the symbiotic nature of your relationship -- the pattern of giving and receiving that underlies every moment of our lives. In contact with the earth, perhaps even the roots of this tree, sink deeper into this feeling of security. Feel as the breeze blows your hair along with the branches of the tree, or note how its absence leaves you both in total stillness. Embody the tree, with every sound and other reminder of the external chaos, sink deeper into your internal silence, your stillness. Know that, like the tree, you are a beautiful component of the landscape, emitting energy to any form of life that may surround you.
This is your purpose, and you fulfill it with ease. There is no need to open your eyes now, for in your internal stillness, you bear witness to the entire cosmos; you are the cosmos. In this knowing, you are filled with a sense of bliss and exist only to breathe. Oxygen in -- thanking the tree -- and carbon dioxide out, returning the gift of life. You have found balance, a state that always exists within you. You and the tree are one, mirrored parts of the same life force. You exist in this state of joyous nirvana for as long as you please. You are free, you are the tree.
Chicago-born citizen of the globe, rich in the things that really matter. Let's get weird.