The tree you see in the photograph is 234 years old. There's a plaque next to it that says it's been there since 1787 around the time of the signing of the U.S. constitution. It's located in a beautiful wooded park near my home where I often walk my dogs, and which has become a sanctuary for me.
Although it is one tree, when you gaze upon it from all of its angles, it looks like multiple trees in one. Each angle appears uniquely different in shape, texture and color. It boggles my mind that it has experienced more than two centuries of history, and outliving generations of people and wildlife who have shared its sacred space.
When I stand in its presence, I think of all the trauma it has endured by weathering storms, extreme heat, drought, urbanization, and more. It's roots extend deep and wide giving it the strength and stability to stand up to hardship. Yet, it's limbs are free to move with the wind, and provide shelter to birds, squirrels, and other wildlife looking for food and protection for themselves and their young.
Although our lifespan is far shorter than this tree, we too have the capacity to endure and overcome trauma by cultivating a Strong Mind, Brave Heart, Wise Body, and Noble Spirit - the 4 pillars of all of our mindfulness youth and adult programs. Mindfulness practices, such as meditation, yoga, and conscious breathing, help us develop those attributes by fostering self-awareness, focused attention, and empathy.
Sadly, the orange fence around the tree indicates that it will likely be cut down soon. It's tired trunk has cracks that continue to get wider, and it seems to tilt more with each passing day.
I tear up now and again thinking about the loss of such a magnificent piece of nature's art and history. But then I remember how much that tree has given over the years to all who have been graced by its presence. It is not a loss, but a gift I will treasure for the rest of my life.
If you are ready to overcome your own trauma and cultivate a Strong Mind, Brave Heart, Wise Body, and Noble Spirit, check out our mindfulness video program, Lighter Being, by clicking the button below.
Author, Phyllis Smith, is the Co-founder of Live Free Yoga, which provides yoga and mindfulness programs for youth and adults who serve them. She is also the co-creator of Lighter Being, a transformative mindfulness video series to help you find more balance, self-love, and a lighter state of being.
Photo by Kathy Tran