A few weeks ago I found this small piece of a tree in the woods. I was doing a meditation there and the teacher had asked us to reflect on the 4 elements of earth, wind, fire and water and whether we were in balance. I knew straightaway what was missing in me: fire. Little energy, low mood, I’d been feeling lethargic to say the least, and guilty about it, guilty about my lack of productiveness. Come on, surely a coach knows how to get herself out of a slump.
I looked around for fire, and watched the setting sun. The light of “magic hour” is without doubt the most beautiful, not the most powerful, but the most beautiful. That is when I picked up the small piece of wood. It contained some of the sun’s energy too, not as much as in the lush trees but enough, in fact the perfect amount. Perfect for it to be exactly what it was: a beautiful piece of wood that was once a tree and would again be a flourishing part of the woodland.
Did I judge it as inferior to the trees around? Did I give this decaying piece of tree a hard time: “You lazy, useless piece of tree, why aren’t you blossoming? Or budding at least – you haven’t even got the tiniest green bud to show for yourself. And as for that bark, those cracks are disgusting, you look like an old piece of crap.”
No I would be both insane and cruel to speak to the piece of wood like that. And yet. Well you know the next part don’t you? Yes that is exactly what I do to myself. I berate myself for having low energy, when actually it is right for me. I berate myself for feeling emotions that I judge as negative. However, to judge and resist our state, is to judge and resist who we are. Our state and our emotions are in constant flux. Like the piece of wood, you won’t be in this state forever.
Truly the only way to where you want to be, is to embrace where you are (which paradoxically means not wanting to be anywhere else!). It doesn’t mean wallowing, it means allowing. Periods of our life, moments even, call for rest, reflection or deterioration. Is it more fun to be in bloom and enjoying new growth? Hell yes, but nothing is fun if it is not right.
Our society is so obsessed with achievement, success and happiness that we expect the unreasonable – that we should be in bloom or reaping a harvest ALL THE TIME. But it isn’t possible. We cannot be full of fire all the time, and if we don’t listen to our need for balance nature sends us illness, grief, depression and destruction to force us to listen.
Is the piece of wood any less perfect because of where it is in its life? It is any less beautiful? It is any less loveable? Any less pleasing to the world?
No, and neither are you.
So, how do we allow? Allow our own state to be just what it is, and allow our own emotions to be whatever they are?
LISTEN: to your body, to your heart, get quiet enough so that you can hear the deeper thoughts that emerge underneath the day-to-day goings on.
ACKNOWLEDGE: admit how you feel or what is happening, remember the piece of wood, you are just where you are.
BE COMPASSIONATE: let go of judging where you are or what you are feeling, it is neither good nor bad, be kind to yourself.
ALLOW: even if just for a moment, see if you can accept yourself and your life this way. The more you allow it, the more it can do whatever it needs to, and from there you will move forwards. And to allow this state means you’ll be better at allowing the fruitful times too.
We don’t know exactly what life will look like in our future but if we listen to our natural rhythms, we will always bloom, always reap harvests, and always fade and rejuvenate.
If I don’t listen to my lack of energy and “soldier on”, crack on with the mighty and all powerful to-do list, then I’m ignoring the learnings and prohibiting transformation; not completing the process will simply prolong it. And I want to bloom in the sun as much as the next cherry blossom.
We’re not so different from a tree.
On the 18th July we’re stepping out of the day-to-day and into a canoe. Fun, insights, exhilaration and raw chocolate brownies are available. If that sounds good to you, check out Wild In The City