By Theresa Weiler
Last week my therapist hinted that I might be having problems with my root chakra. Like, it might be blocked. Or, if not blocked, congested. In need of a spiritual neti pot or some such.
Growing up I was taught that talk of chakras, energies, vibrations, etc. was, at best, silly, and at worst, a straight-up siren’s song to whatever wandering demon might want to possess a person. It was certainly never something I expected to hear from someone who accepts my health insurance. Still, having tried therapy with nice ladies who wear suits, versus my current therapist who has big poetry professor/hippie aunt energy, I seem to make more progress with weirdos.
(I have had friends who genuinely believe that taking a yoga class or purchasing a crystal at a gift shop is the first step into straight-up satanic panic debauchery, so if any of them happen to see this, let me comfort you with a reminder that I would be absolutely useless to Satan. I am tired and awkward and sensitive. I do improv. In public. Satan needs to appear cool, and nothing is less cool than an adult asking a crowd of people, “Can I get a suggestion?”)
So, yeah, back to my stuffy chakra.
The chakras, according to tradition, are energy centers throughout the body that support the function of body, mind, and spirit. So the root chakra, supposedly, sits around the tailbone, and when it is in balance, a person experiences health in the lower body (including lower back, pelvic floor, legs, and feet), but also a sense of groundedness and security in their body and the world.
Me, with my sluggish root chakra, might have lower back pain, restless legs, body dysphoria, and anxiety about money and security. To which I, the expert improviser, reply, “Yes…and?”
Thinking back, the most grounded I ever felt in my life was when I was a really little kid. It never occurred to me to concern myself about money, or my body, or who was going to take care of me. My parents were just there, icons of stability and constancy, and because I knew they were there I could explore and imagine and dig in the dirt and turn somersaults and I never for a second worried about hurting myself, or the size of my thighs, or what people thought of me.
How can I get back to that level of groundedness as an adult? Is it even possible?
The religious tradition in which I was raised assured me that that level of security comes from placing your trust in God’s providence. So I’ve tried that. Maybe I was doing it wrong—it didn’t take. Secular humanists, similarly, talk about an “attitude of abundance,” which, to me, is a real eyebrow-raiser, because it implies that the reason some people are barely scraping by is that they have a bad attitude. The truth is, some people don’t have enough, no matter what they put their faith in. I worry about that, and I feel guilty about worrying, because the Bible says “be anxious about nothing,” and honestly, who can handle that kind of pressure?
Apparently, if my root chakra was more charged up, I could. Hmmm. Seems sus.
So I investigated what practices might be good for my root. Basically, my spiritual director (Google) suggested I act like I did back when I was an emotionally secure, well cared-for little kindergartener: Get closer to the ground. Dig in the dirt. Run around.
(One website even suggested that the reason my body was holding on to excess weight is because it was trying to pull me closer to the ground, to which I say WTF BODY? UNCOOL.)
If there’s anything about all this that resonates with me, it’s that our bodies and spirits can become out of balance. So whether a guru is telling me to energize my lower chakras or the Son of Man is telling me to ‘be anxious about nothing,” they both mean, roughly, “WOMAN. GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD FOR LIKE, A MINUTE.”
Or, as my therapist says when she’s in the mood to be more specific, “All this you are struggling with? Spiritual dryness, lack of identity, hopelessness? IT’S NOT STUFF YOU ARE GOING TO FIX BY BEING SMARTER THAN EVERYONE ELSE.”
That’s really, really hard for me to accept, because as far as I’m concerned, my emotions are unreliable and my body is meh but my brain? Top notch. Spins like a top. Overheats sometimes, sure, but that’s what migraines are for. Turn it off, turn it back on again. Like rebooting a supercomputer.
Still, I can’t argue with the fact that this hasn’t gotten me all that far in terms of emotional and spiritual growth.
So, this week I tried to get closer to the ground. I walked barefoot. I did some yoga (no far, no demons). I puttered in my small garden. And one day, on a walk around a neighborhood, I picked a bouquet of wildflowers.
Remember picking flowers when you were five? What a rich sensory experience that was…the sights, the textures, the choosing and arranging and giving to your mother to put in a juice glass. I figured that picking flowers is something someone grounded, and safe, and secure in her own worthiness might do.
So I picked this bouquet of roadside weeds, and I gave it to myself, and I put it in a mason jar to look at while I wash dishes. And maybe, when I look at it, I feel a little more grounded, a little more safe, a little more like a child.
It’s a start.
Theresa Weiler is a writer, singer, speaker, seeker. She lives in the Detroit suburbs with her husband, a teacher and musician, and their four children. You can follow her on Twitter @SometimesReese.