I used the analogy in my recent post of “being more like a tree”; in fact I suggested that those who find it challenging to “ground” in a physical body start to imagine themselves as a tree, working with that tree-essence as a tangible visualisation. A day or so after writing those words, I had a powerful encounter with the giants of all trees, the giant sequoia (sometimes known as the giant redwood), which I wrote about in my other blog, below.
In the days afterwards, I started to unpack the deeper understanding this gave me and it taught me so much about working with being one of those most challenged by being in physical body (typically, vata types Ayurvedically speaking). These trees offer a working model of what it looks like to work with all three doshas…because they are so very tall that they literally live in three climate zones at once (more on that in the attached post). Each part of the tree has to adapt accordingly; including their top extremities which develop very different “leaves” and the ability to draw essential moisture out of the very weather extremities, such as fog, that might otherwise cause them harm. The result is that they thrive…becoming the most mammoth of living forms on the planet and living for many thousands of years.
Likewise, when we firmly ground ourselves and stabilise our root chakra, focussing on this and only this task of creating a sturdy trunk, as an absolute priority, when it comes to our lower portion (no branching out…yet!), we establish the very basis for the whole of our physical existence. And it’s not about depth of roots so much as breadth and strength. In our middle portion, our focus should be to generate the warmth necessary to keep the very fire of life going; needed for proper digestion, assimilation, the warmth and alchemy of connection with others, the spark of inspiration that fuels all our human projects and so on.
Join up all your layers
Our top extremities (or more “spiritual” aspects) can sometimes feel like they are “left out in the cold” of all this human focus but should it really be that way? For full balance and optimum experience, as our most rounded and divine selves in human form, this aspect of ourselves needs to be invited to the party…fully connected to the main shaft of life that is the energy system that roots us to the ground beneath our feet and all other sources of human sustenance and diversity. That connection between top and tail is energetic more so than biological (how many of us realise this?) and the giant sequoias demonstrate this in action through the open-celled system that allows the very tip of the tree to communicate with the base in “no time” (since it is vibrational…a frequency) rather than, slowly, conveying messages up and down the massive trunk, cell by cell by cell. We have that facility too…our vagas nerve is its physical manifestation (bypassing the spinal column to convey instant signals from root chakra to crown and vice versa). The more clear we keep our system (certain foods, especially MSGs and related chemical flavourings really mess with this nerve) and, yes, the more that we acknowledge that our base and crown are so closely connected (in fact, really very close buddies)…regardless of “how far apart” they seem to be in linear terms…the more this becomes a daily reality. This allows our top portion to thrive as much as our lower portion and all stages in between to do likewise; you could say, its what kundalini risen looks like in human form. Like three beautiful spirals of life source, we get to spin all three of our doshas at once.
Protect your extremities
Like the giant trees, one thing I notice about myself that feels closely related to this topic is the need to protect our highest extremity from the harshest onslaught of the environment we live in. Lately I have been finding great benefit from (don’t laugh!) wrapping my head in a soft shawl, made of natural fibres, when I sleep. During the day, we vatas have to learn to work diligently with variables in the energetic environment, which affect us profoundly. Yet, think about it, when we sleep we lay ourselves open (physically speaking) while we head off on our most vata-like nightly excursions during dream time. Meanwhile the night hours are when some of the most affecting geomagnetic variables occur, not to mention the continuous onslaught of manmade EMFs and other sources of environmental interference to our sleep patterns; our modern world never stops making a racket. Add to this that, during the vata season (transition into autumn), the slightest…and I mean slightest…draught in the room can be picked up by the head and neck region and turned into horrendous amounts of stiffness and pain by morning and you have an exposure issue that can lead to all kinds of chronic health issues. If you are prone to stiff necks and frozen shoulders, migraines, jaw pain or neuralgia of the face, ears, teeth, ears, eyes etc, then I urge you to instigate the practice of keeping your head well protected and warm while you sleep. Really, it has transformed the quality of sleep that I am getting and I notice how morning stiffness and pain is dramatically reduced during what is a normally a pretty challenging season. In the daytime too, making a habit of wearing scarves and head gear, year round but especially in the autumn and winter, makes a massive difference to our health…and possibly an excuse to, like me, embrace a lifetime love of accessories and hats!
Ground yourself well…before you do anything else
Another thing (and I know I keep saying this) is that using yoga to ground “like a tree” is so powerful…and should ideally be done as soon as you wake as it allows you to bring yourself – sturdily – into the body ready for the day. Using standing poses such as triangle pose, the dancer and tree pose (to give them their western names) is particularly stabilising and strength-inducing for the vata-type. You will start to notice…day on day…how your general physical strength increases and how you remain grounded for far longer during the daytime (not to mention how you are building lower body strength, spacial coherence and balance). Follow this practice with a warming and moist vata-pacifying breakfast and you are away…like the giant of trees…ready for the day and all it has in stall for you in all “climates”.
Own your energetic stature
One more thing I urge you to do is to own your energetic stature. That is, accept that energetically speaking, you are immense…far taller, broader, more majestic than your physical form suggests so accept that, allow it to unfurl and hold your energetic head up high. Instead of recoiling from life, allow your energy field to stretch up to the heady peaks of your capacity; which you can do just as soon as you are well grounded, with a roaring hearth firing in your belly and a glow in your heart. This is what it looks like to live in near-perfect balance.
For more on those giant trees and the many layers of analogy I have drawn between ourselves and these ancient-wise ones (the most long-standing inhabitants of earth), read my post on Spinning the Light, below.
(Extract from Growing Up) There is “just something” about these trees; something that makes them stand apart (and it’s not just their size). Here’s one remarkable thing: they have an open-celled structure, thus containing little or no pitch or resins. So, a crystalline tree to all intents and purposes…that got me sitting up and taking notice when I first read about it. They also live in three climate zones at once so they must adapt for that; their bases concentrating fully on the business of grounding and sustaining their great size with water and food and their middle layer (which is where branches start to sprout and loop downwards; their lower trunks don’t attempt branches at all) concentrating on diversity, moistness and warmth. Then their canopy is subjected to extremes of wind and cold – harsh conditions indeed – and so a complete change in needle structure (from being broad and flat for maximum heat absorption from the sun lower down to tight scaly spikes to reduce evaporation near the top) reflects this… (continue reading below).
Source: Growing up