Root down strong like a banyan tree

This incredible banyan tree lies at the entrance to my street, and probably played at least some role in our choosing the home that we did. My husband and I both LOVE this tree, and are just in awe of its beauty, its power, its vastness, and its energy. Not to mention its resilience in continuing to thrive despite the streets that were built on either side of it. I wonder how old it is, and I’m so grateful that it wasn’t destroyed when this neighborhood was built.

Trevor Hall is a musician I was introduced to by a friend (thank you Chastity!) a year or two ago, and I love to practice yoga to his music. This lyric, “When the mind is spinning, what to believe? Root down strong like a banyan tree” has always struck me, but took on a whole new meaning as I was looking at this photo and admiring all of the aerial roots, and how these banyan trees send these roots down from their branches as a means of gaining more structural strength as well as improving access to more water and nutrients as the tree grows. So these trees have an unusual appearance, but that appearance is the result of true adaptability and versatility that give these trees their immense power.

You may have read this excerpt from Ram Dass about turning people into trees “When you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You appreciate it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree. The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying “You’re too this, or I’m too this.” That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees”.

So this gorgeous and resilient banyan at the base of my street reminds me of how we, as cancer survivors and thrivers, sometimes have to adapt to less than ideal situations, but when we allow ourselves to do so, we can become even stronger than before. It is so common to have a mind that is spinning, and feel overwhelmed or disoriented. But we can root down and find our footing, our balance, and our strength. This may happen in unconventional ways that look weird or different to people who don’t understand, and even to ourselves. But instead of judging ourselves or doubting ourselves, let’s practice turning ourselves into trees. And appreciating whatever jigs and jags we have had to make, whatever funny looking roots we have needed to develop to keep ourselves going. Let’s allow and love ourselves, and truly SEE ourselves with all of our beauty, our power, our vastness, and our energy. Just like my beloved banyan.