Wanted: 30 Yogis

Wanted: 30 Yogis

The call sheet posted a meeting time of 9:00 AM. After 10 days on the road I was already run pretty ragged. With only four hours of sleep the night before after a long day, the alarm on my iPhone toned at 7AM with the words of “Bring Me To Life” by Evanescence (circa 2003). As I lay there staring up at the ceiling I thought about all that the next 12 hours had in store. Inwardly I cringed as I imagined what lay ahead. I have 12 days left on this current Joy Trip with an even longer journey coming up through the month of November.

Rolling over in the hotel bed my heart sank with the thought of getting my day started. On a Monday morning with not much of a weekend to speak of I lay there trying to think how I might muster the energy to do what needed to be done. It was then that I remembered a line from one of my all-time favorite books “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” by Deepak Chopra. “The Law of Pure Potentiality: Take time to be silent, to just BE. Meditate for 30 minutes twice a day. Silently witness the intelligence within every living thing. Practice non-judgment.”

That thought reminded me of a practice I had adopted through many years of travel. No matter where I am or what I’m doing I can always take at least 30 minutes in the morning to silently relax my mind and body through a course of yoga. Though not technically meditation with deep breathing and thoughtful movement I can center my being and find a calm safe place in my thoughts to draw both energy and strength. So that’s exactly what I did. Perhaps you can join me?

On this particular morning our production crew was scheduled to meet the next subject of a documentary film series called “America’s Forests with Chuck Leavell.” The program produced for PBS celebrates the legacy of forestry and natural resource conservation across the U.S. It’s my job to take behind-the-scenes photographs to share a bit of our progress with an online audience of viewers through social media. In this episode we detail the narrative history of African-American land owners in South Carolina. This region of the former Confederacy that was once the place of plantations liberated during the Civil War is now the home of an emerging community of tree farmers. Black men and women are using the land of their ancestors to plant thriving private forests for the cultivation of wood. With a long growing period of more than 15 years before they can be harvested for profit, these trees are an investment in the future. As they grow to maturity over the next decade they will help to preserve both the ecology and economy of this land for generations yet to come.

Hosted by Chuck Leavell, the legendary pianist for the Rolling Stones, the program is a thoughtful illustration of what is possible through conscientious land management. Himself a tree farmer with land in Georgia, Chuck connects with forestry professionals across the country to share their stories of environmental stewardship. With a long time horizon, tree farming demands the consideration of environmental impacts and consequences through the next century. Though many tree farmers will never live to see the harvest of the trees they plant today, they find joy in creating habitat for wild animals and birds, sinks for the sequestration of excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, fresh oxygen for all living things and a legacy of conservation that can be passed down to their children. Trees and forests breath life into the world and we must protect them.

Much of my work in partnership with organizations including the non-profit Choose Outdoors and the U.S. Forest Service is dedicated to telling stories of people and the natural environment. Though it is work I truly love it can be thoroughly exhausting and I often forget to take care of myself for the long journey ahead. While I’m on the road I need to remember to spend at least 30 minutes twice each day in silent meditation and movement through Yoga. Whether it’s at home, in a hotel room or even at the airport I’m committing myself to taking the time to still my mind and quietly reflect on the things in life that matter most. Will you join me?

My next major Joy Trip is the annual project to harvest and deliver the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. This year the Forest Service has selected an 80-foot evergreen from the Willamette National Forest near the Town of Sweet Home, Oregon. It’s my job to tell the story of The People’s Tree as it makes its way across the country on a journey of more than 3,000 miles to the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington D.C. I’ll be traveling with it for almost a month and I’ll need to balance long days of car travel, sitting, less than nourishing road food and sleepless nights with physical activity and moments of contemplative silence. But rather than just sharing my story through this trip I want to hear from friends and fans of the project who are practitioners of Yoga.

What is the story of your journey of health and wellness? Every day I aim to post a picture of a Yogi every day for 30 days from somewhere in the world on the Joy Trip Project social media feeds: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I want to encourage them to offer advice and challenges of their own. And I hope that viewers will share their stories as well. Just follow the hashtag #joytrippchallenge. Commit to 30 minutes of Yoga each day of the 30-Day Challenge starting on November 1, 2018. Share your story. Tell your friends!