It is exquisite to lie outside on my little patio at night. Covered with a light blanket, I stare up through the trees to the stars. Don’t get me wrong. This is NOT camping – this is a “city girl” experience of nature. But there is a beauty in it all the same. Even, dare I say it, a wildness?

The Real Tree Pose

My patio is very small and private. I lie there, hidden by the tall trees of the yard around me, my house on one side and a brick wall on the other. A city patio, a tiny green space in a crowded neighborhood. Yes, I can hear the noise of the nearby street but I can also see the stars. Can feel a powerful breeze. This is Oklahoma and so the wind seems always to blow. And tonight is like a lot of Oklahoma nights when a gentle breeze can suddenly whip up into something much more demanding. When that happens, the quiet rustle gathers momentum to produce a beautiful rushing sound as it races through the trees. I lie still on my chair and gaze upward, just as I remember doing so often when I was a kid. Then I would lie in the grass and watch the sky change, the clouds pass and the trees sway. Tonight though, the wind is very unpredictable, first weak and peaceful and then fierce, building quickly and subsiding just as quickly. I watch the trees sway, then lean, then rattle, then scream in the wind. And when the wind quiets, they return to their calm place. They stand quietly in stately silence, awaiting the next rush of wind.

This is the real tree pose, is it not? Ideally, this is us in tree pose, leaning sometimes, swaying. And then returning to the calm and quiet place, peacefully awaiting the next rush of wind. How easy it is to forget that last step – the part where we return to the quiet place!

An Experiment

I lie still and feel the wind on my feet and on my face, feel the cool air that cuts up beneath the lounge chair I’m resting on. I try a little experiment and pull my blanket up over my face. And just for a moment, I relish the feeling of concealment and safety that brings. But quickly – very quickly – I feel uncomfortable because of what I cannot see. Somehow, it’s unsettling to hear but not to see. And just like that, I’m “swaying”, off-center and disquieted. Like the trees, I’m leaning and rustling. Unlike the trees, I’m caught up in the rush of wind and doubt my ability to find equilibrium. I’m surprised actually at my need to quickly uncover my face. Gazing up once again at the sky, I begin to settle down, bringing myself slowly back to a quiet and calm place.

The trees are always around us, ready to teach their lessons of strength, balance and equilibrium. But the real tree pose? Well, it’s not as easy as the trees make it appear.