Tending to our Roots
*Originally posted January 2022
“If the world is to be healed through human efforts, I am convinced it will be by ordinary people, people whose love for this life is even greater than their fear.” ― Joanna R. Macy
It’s been a while. I’m sure that you’ve been busy on your end and probably haven’t noticed that a full year has gone by since I last wrote you here. I find it helpful to remember that Time isn’t as linear as our rational minds would like it to be. Time is more mysterious and complex than that, and I think of it as more of a spiral-shaped phenomenon which makes it possible for me to feel like it was only a short time ago that I announced a pause from the virtual in order to be fully present in the physical as I transitioned into the final stage of pregnancy and passed through the intensity that is birth of our bright Leila Luz, as visioned in water and at home on March 4. The wheel of the year keeps turning, seasons come and go, the fresh and snowy-white page of a New Year has been turned and we are still in the very early stages of 2022.
If you’re reading this, I’m guessing there’s a chance that, like me, you crave and desire to make sense of life and of our world. This has been challenged on a global level with the nearly 2-year-long pandemic situation. We have collectively experienced – both firsthand and in our environment – generally widespread themes of uncertainty, fear, lack of security, illness and death. Perhaps these themes were already present, but Covid shined a spotlight on them. Not to mention that, as a planetary community within the current state of major climate change and environmental pollution, some of our primary needs for feeling safe, healthy and full of vitality in our bodies has been shaken.
With this New Year Cycle and the return to a treasured time and space for sharing more and more yoga in person again – it’s been clear for me that it’s time to embark on what I call the *Chakra Journey*.
In Spring of 2020 (while waiting for in-person classes to resume), I created a series of yoga practices filmed in Nature based on the 7 main psycho-spiritual-energetic centers of the body, known in yoga terms as chakras. I called this the *Chakra Journey* with the intent of connecting with, exploring and harmonizing the universal energies within our subtle bodies for more radiant health and well-being. Now with the wonderful possibility of sharing these practices together in person, we’ll spend several weeks on each of the chakras and when it feels right to move on to the next one.
We begin with what’s known as the “ Root Chakra ” or Muladhara, which translastes to “root, base, foundation, support” in Sanskrit and is generally associated with the base of the pelvis. Each of the major chakras is a meeting point of the main energy channels of the body through which our life force moves through. These “wheels” receive and reflect energy, and with the root, corresponds, in part, to our sense of inherent connection and belongingness to the planet we live on and the living ecosystem we are woven into, along with stability and grounding, security and safety.
When we consider the chakras, and generally our system in a holistic manner, the goal is balance and harmony. Imbalanced root energy can show up in daily life as lacking grounding, often feeling insecure, irresponsible, or feeling that life your life is chaotic and out of control. Another sign is constantly feeling fearful about your health or financial situation. Chronic stress is known to fatigue our physical body, vital organs and keep us from experiencing high quality, restorative sleep.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, imbalance can also be an expression of excessive rootedness – or being stuck and so rigid (physically and/or mentally) that you lack mobility and adaptability in navigating the evolving path of being a human. You may be stubborn and resist considering new ideas and embracing positive change – whether it be personal lifestyle, cultural or political. We become greedy, aggressive and overly-focused with power and material possessions.
Now, dear reader, I invite you to engage in a little exercise as we begin to focus on the qualities and feelings associated with a balanced root chakra which could be expressed with the following phrases.
Try whispering to yourself, or saying out loud the following sentences. Then notice how you react to them. Observe how your body, mind and emotional-self respond when you state each of these affirmations informed by a balanced and harmonious root energy center.
Is there a subtle or distinct feeling of contraction/constriction or expansion ? Does it ring true ? Does it resonate beautifully somewhere deep inside ? Does it feel unattainable or unrealistic right now ? Does it shine a light on a place in the body where you feel discomfort or even pain ? Does it trigger a series of thoughts or memories that go on to prove why __ isn’t so ? Are there statements that we can admit to be true objectively, but we totally take for granted and forget to appreciate daily ?
. . .
“I am safe and secure.”
“My basic needs for food, shelter, clean air and water are satisfied. I have all that I need.”
“I belong to this planet and my place in the web of Life is unique.”
“I exist and therefore I am a sacred expression of Life.”
“I am full of life force and I radiate vitality.”
“My body is strong and resilient.0”
“The vitality of the Earth grounds and energizes my body and flows in my life.”
“I am grounded and I am supported.”
“I am protected by visible and invisible forces of Nature.”
“I eat to nourish and regenerate my body.”
“I am worthy of material abundance and beauty.”
“The Earth generously takes care of me and I take generously take care of the Earth.”
“Being alive today is a treasure. Gratitude.”
“The deepest sense of my existence is already present here and now.”
“Spending time in nature reminds me that life is wonderous and miraculous.”
. . .
If one or more of these phrases are missing real truth for you today, it could be helpful to engage in activities and practices that will affirm and develop these qualities for you. There is not necessarily a right or wrong way to explore and connect with these energy centers. The actions that will have the most positive impact will be the ones fueled by a genuine sense of loving kindness toward yourself and a willingness to follow your instincts and intuitive knowing for taking care of yourself, your community and your environment in the ways that you can today.
What follows is a list intended to help inspire you to take empowered action to honor this foundational energy which supports the rest of our journey. This list is informed by what I’ve come across in my research on the subject along with what inspires me personally.
Bring mindful attention to your feet, legs and pelvis and recognize these parts of the body as access points to feeling grounded, stable and supported in your body and being.
Spend time in nature, walk silently and capture all the sounds, colors and sensations of being in a space without human-made structures or distractions.
Allow yourself to experience stillness in an intentional way in order to open up to a natural, under-the-surface state of being centered, grounded and present.
Sit and observe all the forms of life around you in a given moment. Perceive the elements as intricate aspects of your internal and external world. Let the birds, trees, clouds, wind, light, warmth, cold, shapes and all other impressions be received through your senses without wishing any piece of it was any different.. including yourself.
Earthing for your health -> “Emerging scientific research has revealed a surprisingly positive and overlooked environmental factor on health: direct physical contact with the vast supply of electrons on the surface of the Earth. Modern lifestyle separates humans from such contact. The research suggests that this disconnect may be a major contributor to physiological dysfunction and unwellness. Reconnection with the Earth's electrons has been found to promote intriguing physiological changes and subjective reports of well-being. Earthing (or grounding) refers to the discovery of benefits—including better sleep and reduced pain—from walking barefoot outside or sitting, working, or sleeping indoors connected to conductive systems that transfer the Earth's electrons from the ground into the body.” (Article)
Reflect and journal about the forms of stability and support in your life right now – visible and invisible, great and small influences that contribute to a sense of physical security and a quality of belongingness.
Tend to a garden or indoor plants. Nurture life. Grow your own food. Learn about Permaculture. Permabondance in Geneva offers regular workshops and experiential learning in nature ! When we feel connected to the Earth, we naturally make better choices for respecting and regenerating her resources.
Mindfully prepare and eat nourishing foods (think vibrant colors, seasonal and local) with recognition for all that contributed to this life-sustaining meal.
Offer yourself the gift of bodywork like an ayurvedic massage, which I personally find so deeply nourishing and restorative. You can also get right to the point (pun intended) with a Reflexology session to increase energy circulation and vital organ functioning. For both of these I can personally recommend Ela Ravier of Joy4Spirit. There’s also the Japanese technique of self-massage “Do-In” which you can learn more about with Stéphanie Aulestia of Zen Energy.
Grounding yoga practice with forward folds that invite deep surrender toward the Earth. Postures like crocodile, tree, chair, warrior-ess and prithvi mudra.
Wear red along with browns and other earth tones.
Play, draw and create with all shades, forms and expressions of red.
Crystal companions for supporting the root chakra include blood jasper, onyx, black agate, garnet, smoky quartz and obsidian.
Essential oils that you can use in your personal rituals include vetiver, copaiba, patchouli, black pepper, clove and tea tree.
Participate in a nature-based ritual with the Earth Element and Mother Earth as the main allies and supporters for your focus and inner work.
Find your tribe. Join a women/men/mixed circle. You’re welcome to our monthly gathering at Espace EKA !
Volunteer in your community.
Commit to contributing generous acts of service to the planet in small and big ways on a regular basis.
Try this mindfulness meditation for yourself and with little ones. It comes directly from Susan Kaiser Greendland’s “Mindful Games” book/activity cards.
“Thank the Farmer”
Before eating a raisin, we thank the people, places and things that were part of its journey from grapevine to table. Let’s pick up a raisin. But before we eat it, we’ll think about how it got from the grapevine into our hands:
Think of the worms that nourished the soil… Thank you, worms !
Think of the sun and rain that fed the vines… Thank you, nature !
Think of the farmers who harvested the grapes, put them out to dry, and boxed them up as raisins… Thank you, workers !
Think of the truck drivers who drove the raisins to the store… Thank you, truck drivers !
Think of the person who bought the raisins and brough them to you… (Children thank you.)
You’re welcome ! Now, let’s eat the raisin. Put it in your mouth for a moment, without chewing. And finally, swallow. Pay careful attention to how each step feels.
Talking points : Have you thought about your food this way before ? Do you think about raisins differently now ?
20. Deepen feelings of stability, rootedness and connection through visualization practices which help embody these qualities of awareness. You can listen to this Tree Meditation that I recorded especially for the *Chakra Journey* yoga series.
LET YOURSELF REST If you’re exhausted, rest. If you don’t feel like starting a new project, don’t. If you don’t feel the urge to make something new, just rest in the beauty of the old, the familiar, the known. If you don’t feel like talking, stay silent. If you’re fed up with the news, turn it off. If you want to postpone something until tomorrow, do it. If you want to do nothing, let yourself do nothing today. Feel the fullness of the emptiness, the vastness of the silence, the sheer life in your unproductive moments. Time does not always need to be filled. You are enough, simply in your being. - Jeff Foster