In February each year, the Jacaranda trees get noticed. Not for their beauty, but for their shedding of leaves everywhere.
The dead leaves take over my lawn, my driveway, and everything looks a mess. The trees start to look bare and ugly.
Early March we see tiny purple buds struggling to appear on the bare branches, almost like a painful metamorphosis to come into their own.
Come April, and the Jacaranda trees are bursting with flowers. They stand there like stars in an otherwise dull pageant, stealing every bit of limelight. They throw up a riot of purple all over the hills.
Their time in the sun is short, but they outshine every tree in the Nilgiris during this season. The blooms fall from the branches like a merry dance in the light April breeze., turning the ground into a purple carpet. It’s one of the most spectacular sights each year.
As we tread into May, these beauties are done with their magical spell, having let go of their blooms, turning bare once again. They recede into the background and painfully grow back their leaves over the next couple of months – their time on the centre stage is over – a reminder that nothing lasts forever, neither the season of bloom nor the difficult period of being stripped bare.
I love sitting under my Jacarandas, surrounded by purple. It allows me to still my restless mind. A time to surrender to the universe, learning to let things take their course.
The pain of stripping ourselves, shedding our leaves. The patience to go through a period of pain before bursting into bloom. The optimism in believing that nothing lasts forever, not even the baring of our souls. For with the effort of growing those buds and nourishing them comes the immense pleasure of taking over a landscape and even the skyline. It makes me believe that its worth the downtimes, worth the wait, worth the heartbreaks and often tears when we emerge into our vibrant selves.
Acceptance comes to us in strange ways. For me it comes when I sit on my carpet of purple, in the stillness of a quiet corner of my garden.
We live in an age where almost everyone around us is anxious and stressed, be it adults or teenagers or children. The pressure to achieve and outperform, the need to fulfil the endless desires that we have, the numerous distractions around us, the addiction to gadgets and the constant need for validation from social media – all these lead us to overthink and shut down our positive emotions. Little wonder that depression is on a rapid rise and stress has become a global epidemic. Most of us live with anxiety on a regular basis.
Wandering into a forest or the woods in order to slow down and tune into our emotions is a great way of healing ourselves from stress, anxiety and mental disorders. ‘Ecotherapy’, the idea of connecting with nature to focus on our well-being is popular in many parts of the world. The Japanese prescribe “Forest bathing’ or “shinrin-yoku” – taking in the forest through our senses. It is a way of opening our senses to the natural world. Immersing ourselves in nature elevates our mood and even boosts the immune system, according to research. More and more people are resorting to the healing power of nature.
The sounds in the forest, the textures on the forest floor, the fallen leaves, the gentle breeze and rustling of branches, the brushing of leaves against our skin, the chirping of birds and the occasional sound of a rippling stream … all these are therapeutic. They help us slow down our over-thinking minds and help us connect with our roots.
Sit for a while under a tree – breathe, be mindful… and notice the ease with which we can change a stressful emotion to a more positive, self compassionate one.