The Dreams of Trees - A Meditation (Part 2)
I love the possibility of a new year and I’m always eager to jump into its wide potential and growth. I don’t really do new years resolutions in the traditional sense, but I do always spend some time each January writing, walking, and thinking about what I would like to continue to grow into in the coming months, and who I’d like to be. For the last decade-ish (since 2010) I’ve written out a collection of mantras, or small reminders to live by. I memorize them and carry them with me like a magic poem. They help remind and encourage me to be my full self. They have power and comfort and feel like my own. I do though, regularly forget about them (we can’t be our best self all the time), but the beautiful part of new years intentions like these, is that you can always come back to them. Forget them. Find them. Reimagine how it’s possible for you to be alive with their help. No shame or guilt if you continue on without them, I tend to find they come back to me, or I to them, when I need them most. Especially if you have them memorized or written down somewhere you’ll see.
At the start of each year, I come back to the previous year’s collection of rmantras and re-access what language feels most resonant, vivid and relevant. Then I rework and rewrite them and come up with a fresh collection for a new year. Then I memorize them on a walk and write them down in a couple places so I can go back to them. They often change and morph over the year as well, and that’s okay. This list is for me, as yours is for you, so it can be whatever, however, and whenever you want or need it to be. No pressure to be perfect with this. It’s a tool, not a rule.
I’m going to nerd out a bit and say that I REALLY love doing this because it feels like a spell or enchantment that I can carry around with me. I believe that language truly does create new worlds, and the type of language / thought you use matters. I often this of this little poetic thread:
What you think about turns into what you speak about.
What you speak about turns into what actions you take.
What actions you take turns into who and what you are.
These mantras have the potential to unlock and reveals mysteries, helps me (us) hear the hidden parts of the world and search out the everyday for wonders. They can show you to doorways into new versions of yourself, or older parts of your childhood to be rediscovered when quiet or playful enough. They are centering and life-giving and are an act of creation everything I am aware of their existence within and around me.
I speak them under my breath in the shower, while pouring handfuls over water over my head like a blessing, one mantra at a time. I breath them in when I wake up and when I go to bed (when I remember) and keep a written version as a bookmark. I speak them to myself as I walk down the stairs to the subway, at stoplights, in line at the store, and as I walk the street covered in rain. Like breath, they are a gift.
I encourage you to give this gift to yourself.
For this years mantras I also paired it with a new activity. Leaf collecting and walking. I had such a great time collecting leaves to make last week’s meditation to end the year (see that post here to read it) that I decided to do it again but add a new dimension to it.
I collected a bunch of leaves, twigs, seeds, and other things and brought them inside (everything was collected in about 20 minutes around my block in Brooklyn, so you can do it close to home.) I laid them out on the floor and selected my favorites. Then I photographed them (it had just rained outside, so the colors were extra bright! I just shot them on a black board last week on the ground and on a typewriter case this week with natural light - nothing fancy needed) Then I chose a mantra for each leaf or based its perceived personality or characteristics ( i.e. I chose a a cluster of seeds to go with “Be Generous” because a cluster of seeds naturally is made to give itself away to the wind and ground.)
So with that, I encourage take a look at the images and mantras below and then it’s your turn to collect and write mantras :) Follow this short list of instructions below, or share it with a friend if you want. If you’d like to send me your mantras and/or images of the leaves you collect I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to see them. I might even repost them if that’s okay with you! Alright, here’s the intro…
1. Write out your collection of mantras / truths / reminders that you want to grow into (5, 10, 12…) Go slow.
2. Go outside and collect a bunch of leaves (I collected about 50, then picked my favorite 12) Enjoy the search.
3. Bring them somewhere you can lay them out and arrange them in a beautiful way. You’re the artist.
4. Give each leaf one of the mantras, randomly or based on a quality of the leaf. Really look closely. You can simply lay the leaves on paper and write the mantras directly on the paper next to you leaves., or whatever works best for you. I did mine on the computer once I photographing them, but I also thought about writing them by hand.
5. Take a picture of your leaves / mantras. Let this be a document and record of your intentions.
6. Go out and live! Let these mantras give you power and spirit!
7. Send me a photo of what you came up if you want!
(@wes_sam_bruce or firstname.lastname@example.org)
This is a meaningful activity to do by yourself, but it would be great with a friend or with kids as well :)
See my collection of leaves and mantras below for examples
May your life be lived in seasons
May the start of your year feel wide with possibility and potential
May you be aware of who you’ve been, be free with who you are, and be affirmed with who you can become
May your dreams be like the dreams of trees, bright and alive, always changing, always growing
May your language and action have power to create new worlds
How does the mantra connect with the leaf? Is there a certain shape or characteristic that connects with the language? Does the color or size resonate with you in a certain way? How does the texture affect your interpretation of certain words? How and why do we connect with certain language and elements of the natural world so strongly?