I remember years ago being intrigued by this “little old lady” doing these amazing yoga postures. I tracked her down and found out her name was Vanda Scaravelli. She had published a book, Awakening the Spine, which I bought and loved reading her stories and thoughts about our bodies’ relationship to gravity.
“If we were plants, ground level would be waist high, our legs would be the roots, our spine, the stem and our heads like the flower growing upward. We are being pulled into the earth, without effort or action on our part. Don’t ask the flower to push, the sun brings it out, and the roots are pulling it down in the same movement. The deeper the roots, the higher the flower goes. Finding the ground-the pull of gravity underneath us- and the awareness that our legs, pelvis ad spine are what support us, allows our upper body to relax, and release.”
This place where we live, Southern New Hampshire, has come alive with plant life in the last month or so. Many of us are tending to our gardens and welcoming the magnificent array of colors and scents that have exploded around us.
Every morning I go out and watch my flowers opening, stretching and smiling. It reminds me of how I too am like a flower. I have the ability to expand and in fact it is in the expanding that I find what I am seeking: relief from the tension of contracting and the ability to open up into my very flower essence.
I like to think of it as the ability to “radiantly blossom.” I am in awe of the flowers ability to do it, and I know we can all blossom right where we are anytime we take a moment to connect with the earth beneath us and grow our roots down deeply.
Doesn’t that sound incredibly delicious?
Just the other day, as my mind was inclined toward this notion of rooting into the ground and blossoming, I received a reading from Thich Nhat Hanh. His reading added a missing piece to this blossoming; the emotions and the mind.
Our mind sometimes becomes disconnected from our rooted body and lives a life “up in the air” ping ponging between the past and the future and most always following the thread of what is wrong and what needs to be fixed. At times it feels like a storm is raging up there in the mind and the best way to weather any storm is to find shelter.
Thich Nhat Hanh so brilliantly points out how we can find that shelter down in our roots, it is always available to us.
"Picture a tree in a storm. At the top of the tree, the small branches and leaves are swaying violently in the wind. The tree looks vulnerable, quite fragile - it seems it can break at any time. But if you look at the trunk, you will see that the tree is solid; and if you look down to its root structure, you will know that the tree is deeply and firmly rooted in the soil. The tree is quite strong. It can resist the storm.
We are also a kind of tree. Our trunk, our center, is just below our navel. The zones of our thinking and our emotions are at the levels of our head and chest. When we are taken hold of by a strong emotion, like despair, fear, anger or jealously, we should do our best to leave the zone of the storm and go down to the valley to practice breathing in and out. If we stay in the winds of the storm, it may be too dangerous. We can go for refuge into the trunk, breathing in and out, aware of the rising and falling of our abdomen."
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
It’s a comfort to know that what we have always sought has always been within us all along.
May you root down
and allow your mind to settle deeply
into the safety of your rooted radiantly blossoming self;
for this most interesting
journey of life.