One thing is for certain, life will bring us highs and lows, moments of calm and moments of chaos. How do we manage to stay grounded through it all? This is a practice that we learn as we grow and observing nature can often give us insight into solutions.
Our riparian areas (vegetated zone along the edge our waterways) along the James River and its tributaries are an evolving, sometimes flooded, sometimes exposed environment. As I sat on the banks of the Slate River, a tributary of the James, I think back to times where the Slate was rushing at over 13’ high, a powerful roaring river that was pretty scary! And then there have been times like today, where it was under 3’, peaceful and gently moving. As I stepped into its cool waters, I took notice of the beautiful roots along its banks, exposed by the low water. They created a webbed network that embraced the soil along the bank, holding it tight, saying “I got you.” A few of the species growing here along the bank are Joe Pye Weed, River Birch, Sycamore, and River Oats. Some other native species that stabilize our banks include Alder, Black Willow (Salix nigra), and Redosier Dogwood (Cornus sericea). Species like these provide support for our riparian areas that allow them to be resilient through all the changes that flow by and hold the rich soil in place.
What does support look like for you? What allows you to feel like you can lean back and know the world isn’t going to fall apart around you? Perhaps its your family, a certain friend, or maybe its a daily practice that helps. Support comes in many forms! If we can each find times in our days to say “I got you!” and to feel “gotten” wouldn’t that be nice?
This month’s exercise is about feeling supported and it can be done inside or outside. Do this for at least 3 minutes, but feel free to sit as long as you like!
- Outdoors: Find a big tree along one of your favorite bodies of water. Take a seat so that your back is facing the tree, and just lean back. Close your eyes and with each exhale, let yourself sink a little deeper into the trees embrace. Know that it has your back, that you can trust it to hold your weight. Simply rest and enjoy this feeling.
- Indoors: Find a seat with a strong back or sit up against the wall. Take a seat and close your eyes. Imagine that you are sitting next to a beautiful large tree along the banks fo your favorite river. Take a few deep breaths, and lean back, feeling the support from the tree (seat/wall). With each exhale, let yourself sink a little deeper into the trees embrace. Know that it has your back, that you can trust it to hold your weight. Simply rest and enjoy this feeling.
If you’d like to go a step further, pull out your journal and free write to these open sentences. 1) “As I leaned against the tree (or seat/wall), I felt…”, 2) “A time in my life when I felt supported was…”, and 3) “A time in my life where I supported someone was…”
Want to learn more about riparian species that provide this support to our riverbanks, check out this resource. https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/document/riparian-nat-plants.pdf