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A Trembling Wonder of the World

Learn mindfulness from a tree

Aspens in the fall
Mindfulness: many branches, one tree.

Surely one of the wonders of the world is Pando, the Trembling Giant, also known as the Quaking Aspens. I’ve never seen it, and probably never will, but the fact that it exists teaches me many things.

“Pando” in Latin means “I spread” and this wonder is aptly named. It refers to a large wood of aspens in Richfield, Utah. It looks like thousands of trees, but it’s only one tree, one organism. It covers over 100 acres, and every tree is really a stem emerging from a single root system.

The slim white trunks and yellow autumn leaves of over 40,000 stems of one tree are a stunning sight, but what most visitors remember is the sound: the classic fluctuating rustle of wind through millions of leaves. Hence the terms Trembling Giant and Quaking Aspens. Recordings of these sounds have been made and used as meditation or relaxation tools.

Lessons from Pando, the Trembling Giant

This natural wonder can teach us many things.

Just like each stem of Pando is connected to a single root system, we’re connected to all human beings. We don’t share a tangible root system like the tree, but we’re linked by common experiences like birth and death, and everything between.

Forces like wind and rain move Pando. These same forces touch us too, as well as man-made ones like economic upheaval and the threat of war or disease. Humanity, as a unit, decides how to react, but each human (each stem and each leaf) has a part to play.

What sound are we making? Would intergalactic visitors record the sound of humanity and take it back to where they came from to use as a relaxation tool? Probably not.

Living with mindfulness

Pando carries a timeless teaching: We are one.

Like Pando, we can rustle in the winds of experience, stay rooted together, and spread awe by our presence and the harmonious sounds we make.

With love, Marlane

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