Zen and the art of bonsai

Zen Bonsai

Davinci, Warhol, Bastiani, all great artists, but with art being a matter of perception not all feel the same way about the works those artists create. For centuries people have turned to nature for solace, peace, and calm. Nearly everyone can agree the art nature has created is beautiful and evokes feeling. Can you remember a time when you turned to nature for solace? Almost everyone can.

Enter the bonsai tree. It’s not always the scale of a tree that elicits the awe of nature. Granted there is something majestic about giant redwood trees with their hundreds of years of life, but let’s think about the bonsai for a minute. What they sometimes lack in age when compared to trees in nature, they make up for with hundreds, sometimes thousands of hours of meticulous care and training.

Every root carefully groomed, trimmed time and again to build a healthy support system to let the tree thrive. Every bend in the trunk carefully calculated, every branch meticulously curated right down to the tip of every piece of foliage. Watered with strict attention for years, often decades. Fed with an attention to details that most humans don’t even provide for themselves. Every square millimeter of the tree carefully planned and executed. When you sit before a beautiful bonsai, examining it’s every detail and think about not only the amount of care and attention that went into its creation, but the amount of love and dedication that has gone into keeping it alive and thriving, all for you to be there in that moment enjoying it’s majesty, it is not hard to get lost in the Zen of the moment.

Working on bonsai
trimming bonsai roots
Cutting Bonsai

Even more Zen than finding calm in the presence of a great bonsai is creating one. Losing yourself in nature while working on a tree can bring an almost meditative state. The needed planning, focus and attention to details has a way of pulling you in and it makes everything else simply vanish into the background for those moments when you are hands on with nature patiently sculpting your tree. Many practitioners of bonsai can tell you that it’s common for that 20 minutes they want to go work on their tree to turn into hours upon hours with little notice of the time that has passed. There is a reason why practitioners of bonsai typically have hoards of trees and it is seldom to see a collection of just one or two.

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