My favorite flower is the tulip. I love the full leaves, delicate petals, and sharing the story of the 17th century tulip mania. While a rose is the overpriced go-to, the peony signifies structured elegance, and succulents are the latest trend, the tulip flops around imperfectly in search of the light.
The tulip opens and closes in response to it’s environment, leaning into the sun’s warm embrace and retreating in darkness when there is nothing more to be gained. It doesn’t imitate the other flowers and it doesn’t strive to impress. Rather, the tulip senses and responds.
Many yoga classes begin with the invitation to find a comfortable seated position and close your eyes, followed by the suggestion to rest the palms upward to receive and downward for grounding. Just as my meditation practice oscillates between the open seas and my safe harbor, plants effortlessly mirror the same rhythm.
Sunflowers and tulips trace the sun’s arc across the course of a day. Poppies and tulips open in accordance with the rising sun, and then close as the glowing orb begins its descent. As the oak tree stretches upward towards the light, its roots struggle downwards into the dark unknown.
During particularly bad storms, large trees are often plucked from the ground to reveal a paltry root system. If we seek external trappings and validation, while shirking our responsibilities, we will never establish the roots necessary to achieve true illumination. On the other hand, the one who keeps eyes fixed upon the sun ends up blind.
We must be open to both steadying and receiving–the rhythmic pattern of open and close, and the artful balance of growth and grounding.