Trees, Fire, Resilience and Yoga 

I don’t live near where the Wollemi pines grow but for me these dinosaur trees have been the beating heart at the centre of what has been a disturbing fire filled summer. The efforts the NSW government took to save these special trees was truly remarkable and reminded me of our connectedness with everything on this planet — and beyond. 

During fire threats to my community I have encountered different states of fear and stress. I have sometimes struggled with finding my own neutral ground of being, which is surely the base of any Yoga practice. Disasters bring out the best and worst in people and this one has allowed me to become aware of my own shadow self in blinding sooty black. I find that I become impatient with members of my community catastrophising or searching for someone to blame and then wanting financial compensation for what is a natural disaster. I become judgemental and I set myself up as being “right” and these others as lesser because they have different ideas and values. Oh it is not a pretty place to rest!! 

But I always have my practice and during these times I have been finishing with savasana and practicing imaginary Nadi Shodhana and coming back into the “felt sense” of my own humanness. The human condition is one where we are all vulnerable and nobody is right and nobody is wrong. We are just present and everything is connected. The more compassion and empathy we can bring to resting within our human experience the less stress our differences bring. 

I think of the Wollemi pines and some favourite words I have used in the past on ceramic vessels I have created: “This tree knew her better than anyone..” I also think of Philip Shepherd’s reflections on how we distinguish between “tree” and its boundaries: “….if we wish to draw a boundary around the process that is a tree, that boundary will eventually extend to include everything, right to the outer fringes of the universe. The process that is a tree implicates and reveals the entire cosmos.” (Pg 32 Radical Wholeness Philip Shepherd 2017) 

We are all part of our family, our community, our town, our state, our country, our world, our universe. The rings of connection, like the rings which age a tree, become wider and all encompassing. As yogis we have a practice which can give us a direct experience of this and I feel one important role in our community is to model all of the lessons we are learning. 

Namaste. 

A reflection by Mary-Lou Hogarth 

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