Be, as the Bird on a Branch


Danielle Wilson

I was recently presented with an understanding of birds and their nature that immediately captivated my attention as it resonated with my soul like a tiny, golden piece of Earthly wisdom: each time a bird lands on a branch, it doesn’t place conditioned narratives or expectations on its temporary residence there. It doesn’t land with worries that the branch may not be strong enough or assume that because one branch on a given tree was too weak to hold it up, another branch of the same tree would fail it just the same. There is no anxiety, stress, doubt, or assumption. The bird lands, sure of itself every time, wholy present in its stillness because it trusts that whether the branch breaks from underneath or not, all it needs to do, is fly away.

The tenacious simplicity of the confidence birds demonstrate while enduring their situation is inspiring! Birds have this crazy, beautiful tool of flight. It’s a vital part of what allows them to function as they do in this world. Their primal instinct to fly is so strong, there is no space for thoughts of risk or worry in the face of an unsteady foundation. Like birds, humans also have unique primal skills for thriving in life, rather than merely surviving. We have the powerful—and sometimes mysterious—tool of consciousness. As highly intelligent beings with a divine capacity for conscious thought, we can work to connect with our consciousness on a primal and spiritual level, allowing us to respond calmly and confidently to the external forces around us.

So, if we have this extraordinary super power, why aren’t we all already living grounded, steady-minded lives amongst the many struggles we endure? The issue begins with lack of presence and awareness. Many people walk through life out of touch with their consciousness, or, should I say, completely smothered by it? We are not our consciousness: we are not our thoughts, our emotions, our experiences, or our memories. Our true nature is that of ethereal spirit, Universal energy taking solace in physical form to learn and grow. The bird does not define itself by flight (if it did, penguins and emus would feel super out of place). Birds simply utilize flight to navigate the circumstances of life with as much ease as possible. Imagine if we could recruit the power of our consciousness to work for us in this way! Now, it is necessary to keep in mind that power is neither good nor bad. Power, in any form, can spiral out of control if we aren’t aware enough to employ it skillfully. In order to truly harness the power of our consciousness, we must learn to step outside of it, observe it, confront it, and mold it to serve our best and most authentic Self. It is a trying journey, but if you are able to remain steadfast in your efforts, it becomes the most empowering experience of this lifetime.

Remaining present at the precipice of life is another key to honing the power and potential of our consciousness. Note, the bird does not just succumb to or depend on its ability to fly. If so, it would never land, exhausting itself in the most fatal of manners. We cannot hide in our consciousness in order to avoid the trials and tribulations of life. The fact of the matter is, there is no avoiding them. Like power, receive this concept without duality of thought: accepting that life will be a continuous series of joy and discomfort, with everything in between, is not something to feel good or bad about, excited or anxious, stressed or at ease, it just is.If we persist in presence and acceptance on the rollercoaster of life and navigate with skillfull consciousness, we can respond, like the bird, from a place of balance, confidence, and contentment, even at the most strenuous of times. 

Unlike the bird’s tool of flight, the evolution of our consciousness presents us with the challenge of being conditioned out of our primal behaviors (i.e. presence and awareness). Reconnecting with this trustworthy and primitive place is a challenging task! Yoga, meditation, and mindful awareness are all helpful tools on this journey, but these tools are merely meant to aid us in navigating the vast mountains and deep valleys of our souls and of our lives, they should not be looked towards to “fix” our issues all together. WE are the only ones with this power—we’re divine, spiritual beings after all! Once we step onto this path of awakening and balance of mind, body, and spirit, we will always have the choice as to how we respond to disturbances in life. So where does your choice lie? Will you collapse along with the branch underneath you, or will you ground firmly into the confidence you’ve built in the cultivation of your consciousness? Will you embrace it as something you are always striving to understand, and allow it to help you meet your struggles with steadiness of mind, and without conditioned judgements or narratives?

Today, I am choosing to be a bird. I’m investing confidence in all the self-work and reflection I’ve made both on and off my mat. I won’t look into the future wondering what struggles may or may not lie ahead. Rather, I am here, now, fully experiencing this branch with the wisdom that whatever happens, I have the ability to fly.

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