As a lover of learning, September has always been a favorite month of mine, for connecting to new studies or moving forward with a new mindset. My days of waiting to be picked up by the yellow school bus are long over, but the wirings of the “back-to-school” spirit are hard-coded. The signals to sharpen my pencils and crack open the books clearly stand the test of time.
I spent the summer beginning my studies in two topics: contemplative psychology and Reiki, which included dipping my toes into primary principles of quantum physics. This Fall I am eager to organically blend the new material into my personal life, teaching, and private client practice. When asked about it by a fellow teacher, I shared the following image – “You know how trees show their age in rings that are etched inside their trunks across their lifespan? I feel like I was just given a new ring to expand into.”
The image just came out in the moment and did not really have much certainty in my knowledge of tree rings. I felt it was only fair to our mighty trees that I learn more about the process before appropriating their natural life experience as synonymous with my own. It was time for a little light research.
Dendrochronology is the scientific method of dating based on analysis of tree rings, also known as growth rings. The rings grow in speed relationships along with the seasons of the year, so typically one new growth ring appears annually. The inner and outer ring segments are defined by natural elements during different times of the year. In fact, if all the elements of the seasons are not in balance during a full year, a ring could be incomplete or even missing. For instance, in 1816, many oak trees in a particular region were missing a growth ring; it was named “Year Without a Summer”. Ayurveda, the Vedic science of health and life, teaches how humans also require natural elements from our surroundings to maintain balance in health; this illustrates our own dependence on nature. Could it be that our cycle of September learning is not only a cultural impulse but also a natural one? It would seem so.
When trying to express myself to that fellow teacher, I was primarily trying to express the physical and psychological expansion of personal growth, and specifically from an internal and external point of view. My heart and mind were expanding as I acquired new gifts of knowledge. It seems as if my tree ring image was not without reason after all.
It was also clear that this experience was universal.
During recent conversations with teachers in our sangha, it was thrilling to hear about so many of them going into additional study paths in related fields. Medical school residencies, social work, physical therapy, modalities in bodywork and therapeutics, careers in higher education, and other such cycles of learning were calling to them. And with our new training class just beginning their foundation course last week, we can all be inspired by their new and brave pursuit in becoming teachers.
Trees often inform our human existence. Their roots and branches depict strength and flexibility, while simultaneously touching earth and sky. This time, however, we look deep within the tree structures to find the lessons we need to embark on our Fall studies ahead. Personally, I find there is no greater reward as a teacher than to see your students and colleagues discover their own voices and independently carry out knowledge quests. I wish for each of you to recognize your own growth ring during the upcoming year. And perhaps you too are naturally supported to begin this September.
Yellow school bus not required.
- TaraMarie Perri