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Being Grounded: A Lesson from the Douglas-Fir

Trees are captivating. They spark wonder with their willpower to reach to the stars and withstand high winds. When established, they are able to survive forest fires and they can live for centuries! And all of this is possible in a single spot where the resilient seed once landed. You probably already know the Douglas-fir. It is the preferred Christmas tree because of its elegant conical shape.  They’re also a Pacific NW favorite. They dress up mountains beautifully with their vivid evergreen needles that contrast with the snow at the timber line. Most importantly, what can we learn from them? How does a little seed become a tree that can rise to towering heights of over 300 feet and how does it become such a robust organism?

Picture a walk through an old-growth forest. Giant Douglas-fir reach high into the canopyyet you can only imagine what must be going on below your feet. You can feel how every tree is profoundly grounded in what must be a massive network of roots. But what does this meanto be grounded? In the forest, you can feel how trees channel a deep sense of peace by being whole and connected. Trees are masters in the art of being grounded, and to achieve this the Douglas-fir teaches you that:

  • You are already successful by being who you are.
  • You are complete and you are enough.
  • You are capable to be in full expression of what you value.

So how do we exercise being grounded? The Douglas-fir root system spreads widelyseeking deeper soil layers on steep slopes. Its patience to develop its roots and expand collaborative networks with fungi provides the tree with the resources to stand strong. Its relentless root system enables it to cooperate with neighboring organisms, becoming resilient in the exchange of nitrogen and nutrients. What roots do is like an extended apprenticeship. Their initial effort to anchor themselves broadly and eventual root grafting into an established interconnected forest root system is what allows the Douglas-fir to grow into one of the largest and tallest living organisms on Earth. Like the Douglas-fir, we must exercise patience especially with ourselves, and understand that we may have practice gaps, not us gaps. In being grounded, we feel complete and capable to pursue what matters to us.

One way to practice feeling complete is by reconnecting with our body: to our breathing and to our heartbeat. When we are grounded, we recognize that our wholehearted body is valuablenot just the top three inches. We tend to overvalue our brain and forget about the importance of our bodies, until of course they start to fail us! We need those legs to take us to places (and I bet you can’t think your way to Costco). A good first step to reconnect is to become aware of our breathing, and to breathe deeply into our bodies. In allowing ourselves to feel and to breathe during challenging winds, we will find ourselves anchored to thrive upward.      

Being grounded means we attend to how we breathe, we are appreciative of our bodies, and we carry ourselves with esteem. In this way, we express confidence and integrity and we find the strength to align what we care about with what we do. Conversely, if we misunderstand our ground, we loosen ourselves trying to win, compete, and find success. Being grounded is about reconnecting with ourselves and our emotions. To have a better posture, carrying care and confidence in your gaze—feeling anchored, valuable, and capable. A powerful self-esteem is not a matter of cleverness, but a matter of our groundedness; like a tree that patiently adds a ring every year. In being grounded: we eat not just for energy, work not just for a paycheck, exercise not just for resultsbut fully engage in what we do in wholeness and with heart. Like the Douglas-fir, we can rise to the sky to discover our ability do art in full expression, and in being grounded, we discover the strength to overcome strong winds.

Juan F. Diaz

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Comments

Changnoi
Reply

I appreciate your analogy and attempt to teach people about grounding. I’m concerned that you need to acquaint yourself with the forest a bit more, because:
Douglas-Fir has no taproot. It exists in the thin soil layer on top of mountain rock.
Douglas-Fir does not withstand high winds. On the contrary, being shallow-rooted in moist soils, they blow over quite easily. They also rot quickly, and one of their defining ecological niches is that they build soil on rocky mountains very quickly by growing very fast, falling over, and rotting.
Please spend some time studying these magnificent trees in more depth, and perhaps pick another example that fits your analogy better, for instance Lodgepole Pine.

Thank you for trying to teach people about grounding and rooting! Namaste.

Juan F. Diaz
Reply

Hi Changnoi. Thank you so much for the comment! I’m excited to read how much you like and know about the Douglas-Fir! I find them fascinating! I’ve had the pleasure to grow several from seeds. I appreciate your comments a lot- I will make sure to correct the information. I thought I’d read they had taproots, but you’re right-it looks like they only develop one for the first few years depending on the soil thickness. I checked out this site: http://www.na.fs.fed.us/pubs/silvics_manual/Volume_1/pseudotsuga/menziesii.htm)
This insight in an opportunity for me to share (not necessarily teach) how amazing the Douglas-Fir trees are and its few remaining old-growth spots. They’ve always made me feel deeply, or in this case, widely grounded 🙂 Thanks!

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