Trees are truly a magnificent sight. Their deep roots, their substantial trunk, and their array of colorful leaves and branches remind me of the profound beauty of nature. But they also remind me of the beauty of people. In the fall, trees take on a brilliance. Their orange, red, and yellow hues make a statement of presence. You don’t walk by trees like this without taking a second look. In winter, on the other hand, trees are barren; their once abundantly leaf-filled branches turn to seemingly wimpy twigs sprouting out from the trunk. I find that people can appear this way as well. I have looked at some and wondered if they felt alive inside because on the outside, they appeared lifeless. So as I stared off into the winter landscape, I discovered the Unexpected Health…in trees.
Trees have all sorts of known health benefits: they bare nourishing fruit for us to eat; trees give us shelter; and of course, trees are a ready-made adventure for any youngster waiting to climb them. But the unexpected health insight about trees is rooted in their appearance during the winter months. After autumn, the leaves fall away, the branches turn brown, and the beauty of a tree “seems” to fade, making that tree exposed. In winter, a tree’s core becomes the most relevant attribute of focus…but zeroing in on the core–the essence–of people (and all other living organisms) is healthy.
You hear a lot about a person’s core. In fitness, you are encouraged to strengthen your core (often referred to as your “trunk” in Pilates…coincidence?!). Personal trainers help you build your abdominal, back, and chest muscles in order to stabilize the rest of your outer limbs. People also refer to the core of a person; they talk about their character, their morals. In the winter, we, like the trees, have the opportunity to let our cores shine. Trees don’t have a choice; their leafy nakedness is not something a tree can prevent. But we can easily hide who we really are by pretending to be what we think others want us to be. The interesting part of hiding our true essence is that our uniqueness is what makes us strong and rooted in this world. It is our ‘trunk’ that digs in deep, allowing us to sway with the challenges life blows our way without being uprooted. And when we live life from our core, we experience health that is ideal for us. So the next time you feel that who are is not worth embracing, take a look at the scenery around you right now. The trees may be showing you that a little exposure is just what you need. -Until tomorrow, Jaime
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