In the middle of writing this, a hard thing happened, a tough conversation, a situation in which I would ordinarily have concentrated on being present, letting thoughts and feelings go by and refusing to get caught.
It’s good, Buddhist practice, but it’s one I always feel in my head—I see the thoughts and feelings as storm clouds, things of the air, floating through my consciousness.
I want to check in about how this whole chakra thing is going. (This is the second in a series, and the first post is here). I know that some of you are trying this with me, and I’d love to hear from you if you are walking this path, too.
As you’ll see, the “walking” part is a pretty big deal.
I’m finding that, although I am a very good and thinky studier of all the things associated with the root chakra, and I like amassing the “stuff (red things, crystals, elephants and essential oils) I am not quite as awesome at connecting my thinking with my be-ing. You know, my actual, physical body. The thing that smells, and bleeds and burps and supported the growth of another person.
The first chakra is all about rootedness, grounding and feeling that there is solid support for me in this world. Because my life is kind of topsy-turvy at the moment, that’s a really tall order. Life is change, and change is all there is, but the idea is to remain calm and stable in the face of change rather than being knocked down, run over and plowed under.
It seems like there have to be physical practices that are a daily part of this process, to bring my physical self into the mix. I resist that. (I’ve read, by the way, that the things we most need to do to realign a chakra are often those we tend to avoid). This is not a cerebral chakra; it’s the one that deals with bones and digestion and large muscle groups. It’s not going to realign it by sitting in a red chair eating root vegetables and chanting “lam.”
So I’m still looking for a root chakra-oriented yoga routine that I like, and if I can’t find one I’m going to pick a selection of asanas recommended by various sources and make my own routine. Anodea Judith suggests knee to chest, bridge pose, half locust, full locust and head to knee. I can do that. I’m thinking I’ll start with a good root chakra meditation (there are 20 million on YouTube), go through those asanas and end with a good, long time corpsing around on the mat, feeling my body firm against the ground.
There’s also walking. It’s very cold here, and there are more inches of snow than I care to think about, by which I mean “I don’t feel like walking outside right now even if it connects me to the ground and to nature and leaves me feeling better.”
That almost certainly means I need to do that very thing. I need to walk outside, even if it’s only for 15 minutes, and be conscious of every step, of my feet connecting firmly with the ground, of the myriad roots and seeds taking nourishment beneath the blanket of snow.
Because I need that nourishment, that sustenance that comes not from my ability to think things and tell myself stories, but from an actual bodily sensation. Part of this, for me, will have to be a conscious effort to know where the ground is, always.
And: In the middle of writing this, a hard thing happened, a tough conversation, a situation in which I would ordinarily have concentrated on being present, letting thoughts and feelings go by and refusing to get caught. It’s good, Buddhist practice, but it’s one I always feel in my head—I see the thoughts and feelings as storm clouds, things of the air, floating through my consciousness.
I tried something different. I shifted my weight to one leg and pressed against the floor, grounding myself, literally and figuratively. I focused on that stability and support as I pushed against the solid surface beneath me, the floor, the ground, the center of the earth. It was there for me, holding me down, keeping me from flying away into a million broken pieces that could fly away and swirl around separate, broken and lost.
Gravity held me, the earth held me, and I held myself like a mother holds a frightened child. It made me think, oddly, of the technique the pediatrician taught me when my son had to have shots—she told me to hold him on my lap, surround him with my arms and hold him close so that he felt safe, and couldn’t flail around. Not trapped, but secure. I was holding myself like that, and I still felt the sting of the moment but I knew it wouldn’t really do any damage because I was safe, sturdy, rooted.
It’s a start, a start to going deeper with this chakra thing, down to where the real problem is, the real instability, the wobbliness that makes me feel afraid, anxious, and unsure that I am strong enough to do the things I need to do. The root vegetables are important, and the red, and the patchouli, and I still have things to say about music, but for today…the universe conspires to make me face the importance of using my body and not just my brain.
Because I can’t live in the clouds anymore, all blue sky and cotton fluff and expect my roots to grow strong.
I have to go deep.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: missmoney on Flickr