Dear friends, it is time for both Grandmother Cottonwood and I to pursue new adventures in life, so this will be our final blog post. Since the tree herself was cut down last June, I feel that her spirit is finally ready to move on.
It has been a great honor to translate the communications of GCW into words and pictures. We’ve worked in partnership to bring you over 500 posts since 2015. And now, we say a loving goodbye.
Please enjoy GCW’s offerings from our archives. Thank you for your kind attention and support throughout the past five years. Dear readers, you have been much appreciated!
Remember Grandmother Cottonwood when you need to feel grounded, when you desire inspiration, when you find yourself off balance or living in your head, or when you want to connect with the spirits of nature.
We leave you with a final practice to help you live connected to the Earth, centered in your body, and aligned with spirit
Visualize your energetic roots anchoring you to the Earth, drawing in vital Earth energy. Visualize your awareness centered in the trunk of your body, your heart and belly. And finally, see and feel your energetic branches reaching to divine light, pulling in life giving nourishment and inspiration from the heavens.
(If you have children or grandchildren, they will love this visualization!)
High anxiety and stress seem very common in the human world. What is anxiety but an energetic message to you that your life is out of balance in some way?
Can you live more simply and more in tune with your body, more aligned with the rhythms of nature to bring yourself back into balance between body mind and spirit?
Rushing, worrying, trying to beat the clock and cram many activities into a finite amount of time, constant busyness, constant pressure to look “good”, to measure up, to perform to even higher standards, to acquire and organize and clean more things, to ignore your feelings, to attend to your shiny beeping and blinking objects, to allow those objects to dictate a measure of your reality – these and similar habits cause anxiety to root even deeper in your life.
Can you catch yourself as you buy into black and white thinking of should, ought, or must have, must do? Pay attention to these traps of thought that increase your anxiety levels.
For the health of your life and the life of the planet, slow down, pay attention to yourself, your body your senses. Pay attention to the healing and calming vibrations of nature.
Learn to get real!
Breathe mindfully and create space in your day for the real and true you. Discern your true needs and wants by quieting the mind and listening to the voices of your heart and spirit.
Give the voice of spirit attention for this is your best guidance for a balanced life. Your heart and spirit will not instruct you to go along with current trends, crowds influencers, glossy images you try to live up to. Spirit will show you only what is right and true for you.
In this way, you can access the deep liberating wisdom of your heart that knows only how to be real.
There are the dabblers, the pretenders, the know-it-alls, those that skate on the surface of things, those afraid of commitment.
Before you appeared here in physical form, your spirit made a commitment to live on Earth in your particular body, through the joys and sorrows, the roller coaster ride of life here on this planet.
Witness true commitment. A tiny cottonwood seed settling in a patch of mud, sprouting when conditions allow, taking root, reaching heavenward. Growing in height and reach and circumference each year, standing through the extremes of weather, blizzards, tornadoes, lightning, high winds, standing her ground, claiming as her birthright a patch of earth and sun.
Now a magnificent tree, she is committed to living her span of time rooted and anchored firmly to this planet for 100 or more years.
Commitment means making a promise to yourself and keeping it. It means lining up body mind and spirit to a single purpose and doing what it takes to make it manifest in your life.
Commitment means reviewing and renewing the promises that still resonate with your wise spirit, creating new commitments as you grow in wisdom and age, dropping those no longer necessary or meaningful as you grow older.
Commitment means letting these vows to yourself create the foundation of your life. It means sticking to the promises you made to yourself when times are tough and your attention wavers.
Dear ones, if you feel a wavering in your commitment to be fully here in your body, if life seems difficult to endure, tune into your spirit and renew your commitment to live the fullness of life here and now.
We are swimming in the river of life, sometimes smack in the middle of the fast moving current, sometimes grounded on a sandbar for a time until the water rises again.
Life moves greater ease when we are immersed and surrendered to the flow. Fighting the current of the river of life depletes and weakens the spirits of living beings.
The waters of this river move with one purpose – to join with all waters all rivers streams and creeks, all lakes, inland seas. To become one water.
Allowing yourself to move with the current of the river, allowing it to take you where it wants and needs to flow; steering a bit now and then to keep yourself from running aground, your life will flow with more ease than you ever thought possible.
The gravity pulls all water finally, to the meeting place. This is the vast ocean where trillions of tiny water droplets that once fell as rain or snow, hail or sleet across our Earth merge and become one in a universe of surging and living and sacred water.
Let your spirit and the spirit of water guide you.
Our spirits expansive and unlimited, somehow end up coming to Earth in physical form with limitations, boundaries, and physical rules governing material existence.
As a tree spirit inhabiting the physical world, I was limited during my life by the depth of my roots, the height and weight and reach of my limbs, the nourishment available in the soil, the quality and quantity of available light each day, the length and duration of the seasons, the surrounding trees and their roots and branches, the rainfall and weather conditions in this place.
My spirit took a chance with physical life and took root many decades ago. My life was a magnificent work of art! Life was all I knew. And life was beautiful. My spirit could not be separated from my physical body.
Your basic human survival needs dictate the conditions of your life. You must have water, food, shelter, touch, nurturing from others as a child, exercise, a group to belong to… The deep longings of spirit will also inform and shape your life in profound ways.
Gravity holds your body to the Earth even as your spirit longs to soar sometimes and wants to be free, unencumbered by the confines and needs of the body.
Even if you are not aware of your spirit, behind the scenes it sets the agenda for your life and helps to guide you toward your highest good. It is the quiet voice telling you “there is more to life…” Pay attention!
This is the challenge of life on Earth for humans – creating a healthy balance between body and spirit
One day as a child you woke up to the awareness and consciousness of yourself as an individual human being – that you have a body, that you breathe, your heart beats, you can move and speak and think and act with free will. You realized that you seem to be separate from those around you.
You spent some years early on learning how to master and live in your body. Perhaps it was an adjustment for your spirit, learning to live within the limitations of the physical world.
Somehow beyond your conscious awareness, you spirit ended up inhabiting a body at this time in the history of our planet. You ended up in this place. It was no accident!
You as an individual may not yet know the larger meaning of your own life or how it fits in with the larger patterns and connections between events and peoples and living creatures, the land and oceans, the big picture of life on Earth.
Know this: The web of life is the big picture, the universal pattern composed of infinite smaller patterns and connections that interweave, interact, and overlap with each other creating an achingly beautiful tapestry of the whole.
Even if you consciously did not choose this particular life or the conditions of your life, you have been blessed with a span of years to live.
You have been given the opportunity to experience joy and laughter, to know grief and heartache, to heal from grief and heartache, to seek and maintain connection with others, to learn about love, to experience growing older, to become a grandparent one day perhaps, to develop your talents, to do those things that satisfy your soul.
All that you do with kindness and good intentions blesses and strengthens the web of life.
Think of your life as a gift – the greatest gift you did not ask for. You are here now, so make the most of it!
Rings on a tree stump, the moving hands of a clock, sun crossing the sky from morning to evening, the moon cycling through her phases, an infant growing into a child, a child growing into an adult, hair slowly turning gray over the course of years– all signs pointing to the passage of time, the passage of life from beginning to end.
When you live in a body, time measures out the moments of your life, the waking hours between sunrise and sunset, between birth and death.
In those moments when you are attuned to spirit, you know no time. All occurs in the ever present now. As you live in a body, you may experience this state of grace transcending time and space for fleeting moments.
You may know know this timelessness in meditation, or as you watch a magnificent sunset, walk along a beach as waves break, or witness the birth of a child.
Perhaps between breaths, as you sit in the sun with no agenda or plan, as you surrender to what is, you will experience a flash of oneness with all that is, an expansion, a sense of complete safety. Then life will soon crowd back in with all your noisy thoughts and worries and time will resume.
The timelessness of spirit underlies all experience, all existence. Time seems to stand still as you slip into the silence between breaths, between thoughts.
This is the silence at the center of your being that holds all possibilities.
Messages given by spirit ring true to heart and mind, resonate deep within the human heart. Spirit speaks in symbol and metaphor. Spirit communicates with you when you ask for guidance. Spirit reveals how all beings depend on each other.
Spirit heals, it does not judge or curse. Spirit reveals oneness and belonging, not division and separation.
Spirit selects no enemies, no villains, no fall guys, deems no one less worthy than another.
Spirit knows and sees the wholeness of all that is. Each living being is accounted for in the web of life, each blade of grass. Spirit does not focus on flaws or faults or rain punishment upon those deemed unworthy by human decree and practice.
Spirit reweaves the tapestry of life when it becomes worn, torn or ripped by those who separate themselves from the fundamental truth of all existence, We are All One
As my physical remains crumble into dust and become food for the Earth, for the insects and worms, I enrich and feed the soil that once fed me. The decay of my physical being nourishes the soil that sustained my long and prosperous life. The rains, snows, ice, the freezes and thaws have begun to break down what is left of me.
My spirit, the energy that supported my physical being continues, as bright, as strong as ever. Now the “I” that was focused and centered in the once living tree experiences an immense freedom, an expansion, a lightness, a joy in knowing my oneness with all that is.
Gone are the days of knowing the baking heat and withering drought, chill winter winds, eroding washes of driving rain, the threat of lightening and high winds.
I loved my life in the form of a magnificent cottonwood tree in spite of harsh weather, boring insects, men with bucket trucks and chainsaws. I lived a beautiful life, connected intimately with the web of all-that- is.
My spirit endures!
And now from my new perspective, my spirit observes the manifestations, the ebb and flow, the dance of life on earth with deep gratitude and great love for all beings.
I have a new viewpoint on the web of life, or the web of spirit, if you like. For in my new reality I know without doubt that all things are one.
I am filled with gratitude for the long and beautiful life I lived under the sky, rooted to the Earth in this place.
I remember the first burst of life within me. I felt the swelling of my tiny fluff encased seed, resting in the mud, taking on moisture and warmth many decades ago.
My embryonic roots slowly unrolling as has been the pattern for all those who came before me for the entire history of this Earth. My roots obeying the ancient call to life, pushing my seed open, surprisingly strong, beginning to grasp the soil to reach downward as if pulled by a magnetic force, to draw in nourishment, and sustain my life, to hold me here.
Now my tightly folded seed leaves, pale from their time in the dark enclosed seed space soak in the first particle of sunlight through the crack in the seed casing. They reach out as though starved for light and unfold and harden and reach upward and multiply under the sun’s life giving love, with nourishment and moisture from my roots.
This is how my life began, dear ones. The ancient will to live and survive and thrive on this planet was encoded in my seed as it is in all living beings – those that move freely about and those rooted to the Earth.
What love, what gratitude I feel for the magnificent web that connect us all in the never ending dance of life on this planet.