There's a storm howling outside our windows. Wild winds have blown a good-sized section of the neighbour's tree into the driveway and there are more branches coming down. That poor old tree was hit by a drunk driver some years ago; everyone survived, including the tree, but she got the worst of it, losing a large section of her trunk when the car sailed off the road and slammed into her.
At that time, tree experts from the city came out to have a look and to decide her fate-should she be cut down or left alone to see if she recovered? In this city, the removal of any tree causes a fuss, so the experts opted for painting over the damage and monitoring her status. Ten years later, she still stands, although she never produces much foliage in spring and every year, she loses a few more branches.
I've grown quite fond of her. I see her daily from my front window and there have been times, when I've been housebound on the couch, that her solid presence has given me hope. This past week, I've been grounded by another nasty cold and even nastier winter weather, so the old tree and I have been watching one another quite a bit. She stands and, however sparse her branches, it's easy to see that her roots are firmly planted, although not so solidly that she can't adjust to those howling winds and pounding snow squalls. (Watching her this morning, it seems to me that she's standing in Tadasana, rather than the more expected, more obvious Vriksasana. Right now, in the storm, her focus is on grounding rather than balance.) When the weather eases, squirrels and birds sit high in her branches and scold everyone passing; old and feeble as she is, she provides some shelter and safety yet.
We all have times when we're feeling low, whether those times come from illness or weather or circumstance. Sometimes we're too weak to practice Tadasana as we stand, but it's not the posture that's so important as it is the sense of grounding attached to it. We can practice Tadasana anywhere, any time-standing in a grocery line, walking to work, flat on our backs in our sickbeds. When we bring energy through our feet, into our legs and along our own trunks to the tops of our heads, when we make the effort to stand tall even when we've been laid out flat, when we breathe fully, we rekindle life. Acting in passivity allows us to begin the healing process. Like that old tree, we marshall what we have and find a way to heal, despite our wounds, in the presence of the storm.