Sequoia Trees and Analogies

I’m a big believer in the power of a good analogy.  At times, my perception and my ability to understand different circumstances and situations isn’t always the most reliable or efficient quality I have.  I can bit a bit slow on the uptake.

I’m someone who needs to mull things over, and have things explained to me in a variety of means before I am able to grasp the concept fully.  It isn’t like this for everything in my life, but as some of my closer friends can attest to, I often need a bit of an external brain to help with my comprehension.

This is what it can look like, when I don’t have that external assistance:

This is especially true when it comes to my own awareness of who I am, the thoughts that I think and the actions that I take.

Analogies are a great gateway for me to understand life better.  They help things click a little more profoundly, and I think they also help me see the universality of the human experience.  I feel less alone, and less odd when I know others have shared an experience similar to mine.

In addition to my love for analogies, I have also been half-heartedly dabbling in meditation for some time now.  My introduction to meditation came by way of one of my jobs when I was still up in Northwestern Ontario.  My then boss, Kelly would invite me and my colleagues, usually about 3 times a week to join in on a quiet, 10 minute meditation in the mornings.  The invite was open to anyone who wanted to participate, but there was no pressure to do so.  Kelly would read a small passage from a Pema Chodron book she had, and then she would set a 10 minute timer on her phone, and we would sit quietly and just breathe.

This practice was what really got me hooked on meditation.  The fact that I had a professional supervisor who not only saw the benefits of regular meditation, but encouraged and fostered an open practice within business hours was a rare and unique gift.  Usually after the 10 minutes were up, I would feel more focused and energized.  That particular job, while wonderful, also exposed to me some difficult things, and the meditation practice was a means whereby I could connect with a small community of like-minded individuals and re-charge my battery, so to speak.

Since leaving Kenora some three years ago, my own meditation practice has been scattered and comes and goes in waves.  Earlier this year, when things were particularly heavy, Ian introduced me to a 21 day guided meditation through Deepak Chopra’s website.  That particular series was good, but I didn’t feel what I had experienced before when I would meditate.  If I’m to be completely honest, earlier this spring when I was trying to commit myself to a more regular practice, I was doing so more out of a need to distract.   Sort of like trying on clothes, just for the sake of trying on clothes, with no intention to buy.  There’s nothing wrong in doing that, it just wasn’t serving me.  Whenever I began feeling uncomfortable feelings, I would rush into a meditation believing that it would help.  It would, in the manner that it helped me push emotions back down again, but as has become the theme with this blog, pushed down emotions often resurface with a vengeance.

A few weeks back, there was another free 21 day guided meditation, again through Deepak Chopra’s website.  I enrolled in it, and when the series began on the 17th of July, I missed the first day.  Then I missed the second.  The third day was also gone.  I think on the 5th day, Ian sent me a gentle reminder that I only had one more day to begin with day one, before that particular meditation would be taken down-each meditation is available to listen to for 3 days from when it is posted, so if you don’t catch it within that timeframe, you miss out.  As it is a series, each day sort of builds upon the last, so it really isn’t a pick and choose type of deal.

So, about 5 days after the series had begun, I finally listened to the day one meditation.  It was good.  A few days after that, Ian told me that he believed the day 6 meditation, when I eventually got to it, would likely resonate with me.  A lot.  And it did.

The day 6 meditation is about being resilient.  Chopra details the importance of resiliency in humans, and to make it easier for my brain to really grasp the concept, he explained the idea of re-birth and growth by way of an analogy.  I’ve included a small excerpt here, as my busy mind is likely to muddle the beauty of it:

Just a few hours from the Chopra Center live some of the world’s most ancient trees, the giant sequoias. The oldest known sequoia, estimated to be about 3,500 years old, was only a seedling when the Vedic wisdom texts were being composed, and became a mature tree long before the Buddha was born, the Bhagavad Gita was written, and Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount.  What is the secret of the sequoias’ incredible longevity? The elemental power of agni, a Sanskrit word for fire. Periodic forest fires clear away everything that threatens the trees’ survival while ensuring their growth and regeneration. Without the fire’s heat, the sequoia cones couldn’t open and release their seeds. Without the clearing force of fire, sequoia seedlings would be overcrowded by competing shade trees and not have enough sunlight to grow.  From Deepak Chopra’s 21 Days of Inspiration

As I listened to this last night, before going to bed, my face did this:

Things began clicking together like Lego blocks.  If I am to go along with the analogy, and I am, then it means that all of the events, especially over the last 3 years-events which, in large part I have viewed as painful, hurtful and devastating-have, in essence been a 3 year long fire which finally, cleared everything away.  Everything that was threatening.  Everything that was holding me.  Everything that was resulting in my being stuck.

I remember each spring in Grassy, some community members would burn their lawns, and I soon learned it was a practice that was done in order to encourage new growth.

As it helps me understand my situation better, and see the universality of it, I’d like to think that this is what’s happened in my life.

With Love,

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Olivia Shaw

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