The Shade of the Shaggy Barked Hickory Trees


Rumi, the 13th century Sufi, wrote, This being human is a guesthouse, every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all.

I held a yoga workshop in my garden last Sunday. Some old and new friends sat with me on moss and grass sheltered by two ancient shaggy barked hickory trees that have graced our home for a hundred years.  

My ingenious husband tucked a garden hose into leafy low branches, and set it to mist. The suns rays made a small rainbow and then another; the breeze carried the spray onto our skin before delighting the short stalks in our cornfield. A hawk screeched her song, my new puppy, Harry, slept on cool dirt under a blue spruce; crimson flowers swirled in a humid breeze.

The theme of the workshop was clearing out clutter, letting go of that which does not serve, nurturing faith in the abundance around us and uncovering our highest self.

We reflected upon our habits of acquiring things that clutter our lives. Clutter stunts growth, anchors dreams and aspirations. It is most apparent in our homes, but it affects our bodies, thought patterns and even our emotional life.

A physical injury imprints our muscle memory, and our bodies compensate to protect the area long after it has healed. It takes a concerted and conscious effort to gently release our muscles. The idea applies to the way we think and feel, too.

We hold on to heartbreak, also, to shield against future blows.  Anahata, the Heart Chakra, is weighed down with grudges, judgments and sadness. These memories impede relationships and become part of our identity.

A crisis is, sometimes, a signal that we need to let go of something: beliefs, habits, labels or attitudes that no longer serve us. Enlightenment is not about acquiring anything; it is the letting go. What we require is with us all the time, perhaps buried under layers of pains, old grievances, and judgments that no longer have meaning.

Rumi added, Even if they are a crowd of sorrows who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture. Still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight.

Letting go is frightening, but we are more than the sum of our past experiences. By releasing that which does not serve us, by doing so with awareness and grace, we open up to new possibilities, and begin to reveal our highest self.