You Don’t Have to be the Tallest Tree in the Forest

“You don’t have to be the tallest tree in the forest.”  Those words came as a message for me from Dr. Lewis Mehl Madrona, M.D., psychiatrist, and Native American healer in ceremony the last day of a week-long healing workshop some time ago.  How did I know the message was for me?  I knew because as he said it, I could feel his eyes on me as I sat with the others in the circle. I was directly opposite him.  I opened my eyes and saw that he was looking right at me.  The message was directed to me….  I think about those words from time to time, and they have once again come up for re-examination.

At the time those words were received, I was totally into getting out into the world in a big way doing workshops related to my book Creating the Peaceable Classroom: A 21st Century Wellness Guide for Teachers, Students and Parents, teaching kids yoga, and also doing private energy healing work.  I envisioned myself traveling to school districts around the country encouraging teachers to adopt and share with their students stress reducing and vitality enhancing practices I promoted that would enable them to come from a place of greater at-easeness to do their best work, teaching and learning.  I wanted to impact as many people as possible.  I had big dreams.  And then that message came, “You don’t have to be the tallest tree in the forest.”  It was deflating at the time and disappointing.  I knew I wasn’t yet the tallest tree in the forest, but that was what I wanted to be.  I wanted to make a big difference in a lot of peoples’ lives.  At that time, I wasn’t paying attention to the other part of the message that said, “You don’t have to be….”

I have come to understand that that part of the message was the most important part then and now in today’s world.  In essence, it’s saying that not everyone has to be a tall tree.  You don’t have to make a big splash in the world, effecting many people.  A smaller splash in the world is just as important.  Both taller and smaller trees make a difference.  Their splashes ripple out and impact whoever the ripples touch.  Smaller trees may well reach those that the larger trees miss, making it possible for more to receive the gifts offered.

I have accepted that I am a smaller tree, reaching a smaller number of people, but that is ok.  I am doing my part in serving, in helping others learn how to quiet their bodies and minds, and I’m assisting those who choose to come to me in their personal, healing journeys.  Big trees and smaller trees all have their place in the world.  All are important in creating a global community that comes from a place of kindness, compassion, acceptance, love, and peace, sorely needed at this time in our lives.  Celebrate the tree that you are and go forth doing your important work….  

7 Responses to “You Don’t Have to be the Tallest Tree in the Forest”

  • Tina Moran says:


    You have always been a tall tree of inspiration to me. Meeting you 10 years ago at Kripalu, meant something to me and I have had a connection to you ever since even though our meeting was short lived.

    Thank you for all you do and your incredible words of wisdom that I have used in my own teachings over the years.

    I read every post and your tree looms high with many gifts to me.

    Best always, Tina Moran, Winchester, Ma

    • Sandy says:

      Thank you, Tina, for your very kind words. I’m so pleased to know that you have found my words beneficial and have shared them with others. I remember you fondly! Namaste,

  • Ivy says:

    What a beautiful message! And so reassuring… Thank you Sandy!

    • Sandy says:

      Ivy, I’m glad to know that my mnessage resonated with you. It is reassuring to me as well…. Namaste,

  • Kristen says:

    This really resonates with me and I appreciate your way with words. This is so fitting to how I have been feeling. Wanting to do more, while hoping I’m doing enough. Reminding myself that I don’t have to always make big waves. The small personal waves are just as meaningful and helpful

    • Sandy says:

      I’m glad to know that my words resonate with you. We must trust that we are led to do what we are meant to do at any point in time, big or small. Being present and open to opportunities will allow our ripples to continue to move outward…. Blessings, Sandy

  • Laura says:

    Dear Sandy,
    I so related to your most recent blog. The times has led me to close Summit Yoga. As you know, it was a small space with small classes. But there was nothing small about my impact on students (ages 3-94). Since my closing announcement my students have written me such heartfelt letters and emails. It’s always nice to have that validation.

    What we do from our hearts, may sometimes only touch one person, and that’s huge. Sandy, you’ve touched so many individuals in “huge” ways. You have helped me process, learn, change, grow.
    You are one of my tall trees.
    Love and Light, Laura

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