Embodying Trees

As I sat in a small group of fellow meditators, I began to imagine each point of the posture as a feature of a tree: the base of my posture, my crossed legs, was the earth; my rooted tailbone was the roots of the tree; my balanced centre the trunk; my open heart the branches; and my crown the crown of the tree, lifted and tilted slightly forward, like a leaf on its petiole. It didn’t map perfectly, of course, but it worked for me, enabling me to feel grounded in my body, grounded in the earth. I imagined the mycelial network that connects each tree to its neighbour through the teeming earth connecting me to my fellow meditators, invisible threads providing what each of us needed in that moment, like mycelia move nutrients through the soil. I felt a kind of joy that I hadn’t felt in years, a sense of belonging to the earth, of being part of nature. I won’t claim the joy has persisted, exactly, but it opened a door for me that has stayed open, just a crack, even if I’m usually stuck on the other side.

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Our Life is the Ceremony 

Our dominant culture in the West seems almost devoid of ceremony. If there is a ritual, it would be in unboxing an Amazon package. We gulp our coffee. I sit in Zazen, too often, not in reverence for the eternal position, but as an item to check off on a daily list of them. The connection to the eternal, the collective wisdom of our ancestors, is frayed.

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Regulation as Practice

To be regulated is to stay within an optimal state of arousal – not too hyperaroused (excitable or revved up) and not too hypoaroused (numbed out or shut down). But dysregulation is baked into life. From the moment we exit the womb we are highly dysregulated. We come out screaming and crying, seeking to be soothed (co-regulated). As infants our regulation is entirely dependent on others. As we grow up, we have more capacity to regulate ourselves. In the same way that the mind wanders and we bring it back in meditation, our nervous systems get dysregulated and we (try to) bring it back to regulation. Regulation is a practice as much as it is a state.

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Ceremonies for Life 

Ceremonies and rituals can be as unique as those who practice them, deriving their meanings from the intentions behind them and the presence within them. Mindfulness and presence breathe life into ceremonies, they help us attune and attend to the subtle yet powerful energies that we invoke when we open ceremonial spaces.

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Change is not coming because it’s already here.

When we say we want change, on a societal or personal level, we mean only certain types. I mean, I want to be a “better person”, but I’d prefer to skip the bifocals if that’s cool. Change in that direction is scary, for it reminds us of our own ephemerality.

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