What Plants Can Teach Us About Commitment And Letting Go

Julie Phillips-Turner
What Plants Can Teach Us About Commitment And Letting Go

Often we show up to yoga class ready to tackle the poses ahead, or perhaps afraid of what the teacher has in store for us that day. But isn’t it true for any situation – whether bravery or fear – that we need to let go of the outcome of the pose, its perfection or hideousness, and just enjoy the practice and the opportunity to grow? Growth in yoga, whether spiritually or physically, requires commitment, practice and letting go of expectations.

So what do plants have to do with any of this? Think about how trees, flowers, weeds and seeds make a commitment to just be from day-to-day. Growing leaves and branches, bearing fruit, blossoming flowers, deepening roots, growing taller, and casting their seeds wide to expand their horizons.

Letting Go Of The Fruit

According to the Bhagavad Gita, “You have a right to your actions, but never to your action’s fruits. Act for action’s sake, and don’t be attached to inaction.” (2.47)

So, we get on the mat and give it our best effort. And sometimes we walk away feeling like we just climbed Mount Everest, and sometimes we feel like the biggest klutz. But what the Bhagavad Gita tells us is just to act, and not to judge ourselves. It also encourages us to try.

Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutra discusses the term “vairagya” which means non-attachment, and it applies to objects, situations as well as feelings.

Thinking that we can do every pose perfectly everyday – or even perform it at all – is a form of attachment.

Going With The Seasons

When the season has passed, let go of the old to make room for the new. Trees show us how to let go by shedding leaves and branches, just as plants drop flowers that have served their purpose as a part of a natural cycle. Fruit trees shed their over-ripened fruit, rather than hold on to something rotted.

If these plants held on to everything they created, there would be no room for growth. Just as if we held on to every self belief we risk remaining the same and cease to grow.

Challenge To Persevere And Grow

The Yoga Sutra also discusses the term “abhyasa” which means a persevering or persistent practice. Abhyasa is also described as a good practice that is don’t with discipline and enthusiasm, with a commitment and clarity, that over time will result in a successful outcome.

So, just like the flowers and seedlings, be “willing” to do the practice, not obligated, and enjoy the fruits of your actions, just don’t be attached to them.

Scatter Your Seeds To See Where They Go

The seeds you sow and scatter many places, looking to grow somewhere, will eventually land in the perfect spot with the perfect light. While new seedlings don’t always become a forest, one with the right support will become the 100-year old oak tree.

Just like your yoga practice, you may try numerous poses, styles of yoga, types of yoga teachers, or have a few spiritual breakthroughs and epiphanies, but you will only grow if you allow yourself to shed your previous beliefs or habits, and commit to a type of practice that brings you joy and happiness and clarity.

Find The Places Where You Grow, Expand And Thrive

Have you ever noticed that little flower that grows boldly through a crack in the driveway, or out of a hole in a rock? The seed of that little flower landed in that tiny little area and had every condition in its favor that allowed for it to grow.

Similarly, have you ever pulled a number of tree seedlings from your gutter or garden because they just didn’t belong there? Sure, they would flourish in a forest, but just not on the roof of your house.

Both the flower and the seedling made the commitment to grow in an unusual area, and they did, but with different outcomes. So be sure to let your seeds grow mindfully, where they will be nourished.

Everyday in our yoga practice, we may find ourselves more open to experiencing new poses or techniques, and some days not so limber and open to those experiences. Any small step you take to is a giant step towards transformation. Perseverance through small mindful steps will help you to grow in strength, courage and wisdom.