Remaining anchored amid life’s winds is fundamental to enduring this thing called ‘life.’
It’s a paraphrase of a saying my dad sometimes shared with me as an adult, especially in moments when I felt emotionally deflated and spiritually discouraged. Like the time I mentally prepared for a job I didn’t receive. Or when I struggled to identify a friendship circle following a cross country move. In the years following my mom’s death and prior to his own. Recently, it’s felt like a soothing balm to my soul as my immediate family has faced an array of challenges.
Just the other day, I found myself on an evening walk – on an unexpectedly windy day, given the 100℉ temperature outside – observing the trees gently swaying back and forth. I was struck by the fact that just one month ago, those same trees had endured much heavier winds and unseasonable storms.
Yet here they were – dancing in sync with the shifting winds, seemingly oblivious to any other environmental rhythm or activity.
I considered my current stress points and visualized what it would feel like if I more fully surrendered to life’s winds. Have you ever thought about this, my friend?
First, let me share that my line of thinking was most certainly divinely inspired, given my longstanding tendency towards and preference for control. I’m definitely not one who surrenders easily. (Cue the intro music for an Enneagram 8, LOL). Second, I’ve discovered that the practice of meditation and visualization in my quiet moments helps center my thoughts when my body is in motion.
Still, remaining anchored amid life’s winds isn’t an easy task.
My experience on the walk led me to do some research focused on trees when I returned home. One question rang loudly in my mind. How do trees stay upright, particularly in the midst of a storm or strong winds? A basic exploration at best, what I discovered felt profound.
Adequate soil is a key ingredient in tree stability, in addition to healthy nutrients and oxygen, water, strong roots, and consistent pruning.
Two hours into my study of trees, I found the information completely translatable to my own situation.
First, adequate soil. Perhaps a contributor to our own instability when faced with life’s storms is that our “soil” isn’t fertile. Let me explain by asking a question. What and who are we surrounding ourselves with in life – negative social influences, toxic relationships, or excessive social media? Friend, I’d argue that our environment plays a significant role in how we cope with the changing winds in life. If we’re surrounded by healthy individuals and engage in quality relationships, as well as have a clear understanding of how what we consume affects our well-being, we can rest assured that we are navigating life in fertile soil.
Second, healthy nutrients and oxygen. What are we doing to care for ourselves day to day? Like trees, we can’t survive without taking time to breathe in goodness – oxygen, our life breath. Further, we need an intake of healthy foods, vitamins, and minerals. Believe it or not, this not only positively impacts our physical person, but also bolsters our emotional stamina in the face of stress. When stressors present themselves, the better our basic self-care, the more equipped we are to stand.
Third, water. Did you know the human body is roughly 60% water? Yep, that’s right! Water aids in the maintenance of our energy levels and helps flush out bodily toxins. Given the relationship between physical and emotional well-being, it’s clear that adequate water intake equips us to survive and thrive on the best and worst of days. Imagine a time when you’ve felt dehydrated and recall the effect this had on your energy and mood.
Fourth, strong roots. Though invisible, trees rely on roots to serve as a structural anchor. Along the same lines, we rely on invisible structures to help keep us standing amid life’s winds. For me, that has included my faith practices, including prayer. For you, it may be quiet reflection and meditation, engaging in a yoga practice, or using targeted breath work to help regulate your nervous system. Each of these invisible cords can help keep us tethered and upright no matter what confronts us in life. Invisible, yet powerful.
Finally, consistent pruning. Trees thrive the most when leaves and stems are occasionally cut back or completely removed, affording space for new ones to grow. Pruning creates an opening for new opportunities. For us, this may mean releasing what no longer serves us. Surrendering to what we cannot control or change. Radically accepting what is, as opposed to lingering in lament for what’s not. Cutting back in order to make room for emotional and spiritual growth.
Take a moment and consider these five key ingredients for remaining anchored amid life’s winds.
Which of the elements do you possess?
Which might you incorporate into your life to stabilize yourself?
Friend, while you can’t control so many of life’s events, you can take steps to care for yourself.
I encourage you to stand on this truth.
Anchor yourself in what you know to be true — that you’re far more capable than you may believe.
Learn more about managing your lifestyle, love, leadership, and loyalties to God, self, and others by clicking here: https://mekelharrisphd.com/.
5 Ways to Unwind RIGHT NOW!
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Dr. Mekel Harris is a Memphis-based licensed psychologist who loves helping other perfectly imperfect folks navigate life's challenges in order to grow in lifestyle, love, leadership, and loyalties to God, self, and others.
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