04/19/2012 10:28 am ET Updated Jun 19, 2012

Grow Deep and You'll Stand Tall

The greater the contrast, the greater the potential. Great energy only comes from a correspondingly great tension between opposites. -- C. G. Jung

There was a great experiment done in the early 1980s in the desert called the biodome. It was an exercise to create the perfect living environment for human beings, plant, and animal life. A huge glass dome was constructed and an artificial, controlled environment was created with purified air and water, filtered light, and so on, offering the perfect growing conditions for trees, fruits and vegetables... and humans. People lived in the biodome for many months at a time, and it was wonderful because everything seemed to do well, with one exception. When the trees that were planted grew to be a certain height, they would simply topple over. It baffled scientists for the longest time, until one day they realized the one natural element they forgot to recreate in the biodome: wind! Trees need wind to blow against them, which in turn causes their root systems to grow deeper into the soil, which in turn supports the tree as it grows taller.

What a great lesson we can take from the biodome experiment. Who among us doesn't long for a perfect growing environment with no disruptions from outside influences? We strive to avoid the times of contrast and tension, those times when the challenges of daily life push against us. When they do, the normal tendency is to curse them. If the trees could talk, I wonder if we would hear them curse the wind each time they encountered a storm. I doubt it very much. More likely, I believe we would hear them thank the wind for assisting them in deepening their root system, enabling them to grow stronger and taller. That's nature's wisdom at work.

We can learn a great deal from the nature of a tree if we are open to the lesson. Watch how a tree bends and sways gracefully when the wind blows against it. It does not stand rigid, resisting the flow of energy. It does not push back. The tree accepts the strong wind as a blessing that helps it grow. Like a tree, we too need the contrast of the winds of life pushing against us. In those times, we need to remember that infinite intelligence is the soil, the essential foundation upon which we grow our lives. Then we can view the challenges in our lives as blessings. It is that contrast that develops our character and deepens our spiritual roots in the rich soil of being. Be flexible... bend and sway with the wind. Grow deep and you will stand tall.

As a mindfulness practice, consider the following:

Take a look at your challenges -- those times of contrast you may currently have blowing as gale-force winds in your life -- and give thanks for them. See them as the wind... and see yourself as a tree. Then turn to the source and deepen your roots into the truth of who you really are. Those are the times when our taproot draws its life force from the creator. There is no such thing as a perfect life. If there were, we could not survive in it. Be thankful it is so.

For more by Dennis Merritt Jones, click here.

For more on mindfulness, click here.

Note: This writing is an excerpt from my book. The Art of Being -- 101 Ways to Practice Purpose in Your Life, used with permission of the publisher.

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