In yoga there is a position known as tree pose. To get into the position, you lift one leg up and place it on your knee while lifting your arms above your head. Basically it is a posture to build strength and balance. To maintain stability and not teeter you press your standing leg into the floor and engage your muscles to help maintain a gravitational center. You also focus on one point on the wall in front of you to avoid any visual distractions that might cause one’s head to turn and thus offset the body’s balance.
Tree pose is a great metaphor for life. In order to maintain stability and balance, we have to draw on strength, will and focus. This keeps us emotionally and mentally solid in our day-to-day existence. Otherwise, anything can offset our equilibrium. I liken this to being a real life tree that remains firmly rooted even when the wind and rain blow its leaves and branches about.
One of the greatest tools that can assist us in this process is to become more aware of our breath for when we breathe more consciously our bodies begin to naturally relax. Exercise too can help ground us in our physical bodies, which then helps quiet the mind from its racing thoughts about all we must do and worry about in the future.
As we engage the body, we begin to feel our breath moving through it. Breathing is something our bodies do automatically yet we often restrict its flow when we tense our muscles in fear and/or stress and we are rarely conscious of its life giving energy. Yet when we bring attention to it, we can feel its power to cleanse, sustain and revitalize every aspect of our being. In fact, the word breath in Hebrew and Greek is synonymous with the word “spirit” or “wind” indicating a direct link between our breath, being and the divine. Our breath is the life force that helps us fully embrace and enjoy the moment.
One of the most beautiful passages in literature about transformation comes from the book of Ezekiel. Referred to as “The Valley of the Dry Bones,” it directly describes how the breath ushers in new life and a new moment. It reads as follows:
The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.”
So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.