Real talk: I’m a full fledged Tree Hugger.
If you haven’t hugged a tree lately, go do it. Every time I bear-hug a tree, I’m overcome by a profound sense of Union.
You’ll remember from this previous post that I spent a week in Sequoia National Park hiking, backpacking and hugging trees in July. Basking in the shadows of these Giants was humbling (Sequoia Trees are some of the biggest tress by volume in the world) but more than that: the touch of the bark on my skin was a tactile connection to what Nicolai Bachman calls the “pure inner light of awareness that all creatures share.” It was truly yoga.
Hugging these big ol’ trees embodied the classical definition of yoga as found in the Yoga Sutras:
“Yoga citta Vritti- nirodha.”
In other words, I felt Union (yoga) when I set aside my thoughts of being separate from the tree and opened my heart-mind to a new awareness of shared essence.
Sure, I did a few sacrosanct yoga poses along the path of the Giant Sequoias (doesn’t everyone?) but the real Magic was in the hug. It was the way I felt truly alive on a cellular and molecular level after sharing a moment of connection with a bark covered sentient being, each of us wishing the other to be happy, healthy and free from suffering.
As a mental, skill-based practice, yoga happens when we settle the heart-mind (citta) in a place unencumbered by thoughts (vrittis) of division and distraction, when we choose to value each and every sentient being as its true essence.
If you’re up for some nature time (and less stress) find a tree to hug and tune in to the greater meaning of yoga (with or without the crazy handstands.)
“When we are able to focus our attention away from external and toward our inner core, then we can connect to that pure inner light of awareness that all creatures share. Yoga is the process of stilling the distractions in our heart-mind.”
– Nicolai Bachman