Growing My Own Roots

The other day, I walked past an enormous tree that frames the entrance to a busy hotel. I was struck by the size and length of the roots that extended outward from the trunk and into the earth. This impressive hardwood was so solid and deeply rooted. No blustery winds would have shaken it; it looked as if a massive hurricane could whip through the area and take down everything in its path except that tree. It was that rooted to the earth.

I’d like to be as sturdy as that tree. A sea of change has flooded my life over the last few years. As I adjust to living without the anchor of a husband and to freelancing in a huge city where I’m still getting my bearings, I find myself longing for stability—someone or something I can count on.

That’s why I particularly appreciated the Chanting Exercise to Root and Ground that Jurian Hughes, my latest Kripalu Perspectives guest, suggested I try. “Think of how your favorite music has an immediate effect on your mental and emotional state,” Jurian says.  “Sound vibration is a powerful healing tool.”

Jurian had me sit in a comfortable position with my eyes closed and focus my attention on my root—my sitz bones, tailbone, legs, and feet. With my attention there, she asked me to chant the sound “lam,” which rhymes with “calm.” Apparently, “lam,” according to the ancient Vedic texts, is the sound of the root chakra and awakens feelings of solidity and stability.

As I sat there chanting, I felt the familiar fidgety feelings that arise whenever I do anything resembling meditation. I worked to silence my “this is boring” and “I want this to be over” voices and just allowed myself to experiment with chanting “lam” at different pitches and for different lengths of time. Soon I began to resist the exercise less and accept that there was nothing else to accomplish at that moment than chanting and breathing. When I opened my eyes, I felt a bit calmer.

Then Jurian had me do the same chant, but in Mountain pose, as it offers a heightened sense of stability. With my feet parallel and hip-width apart and my arms reaching straight up overhead, I began chanting “lam” once again, focusing on the energy in the lower half of my body. My fidgety feelings arose, but I stayed with the chant. Soon, I felt a tingling feeling in my tailbone. My mind stopped racing and began to entrain with the sound of “lam” as I repeated it over and over. When I paused, I felt noticeably more grounded. The floating sensations I often feel were absent.

Finally, while I held Mountain pose, Jurian had me make a series of declarative statements, affirmations about what I want to experience in my life. “I’m strong and steady,” I said. “I can do this. I have everything I need. I can move forward in my life.”

At one point, I began to tear up, but I allowed myself the tears, chanted “lam” a few more times, and returned to the affirmations. And when I declared the next time what I most want to draw into my life, my voice sounded steady and strong. My feet were planted firmly on the ground, and I felt as if I could move forward because I had a safe base to return to. I had the sensation of having my own roots, of being connected to something stronger than myself. I felt just a wee bit like that tree, and it felt good.

Portland Helmich is the creator, host, and producer of the Kripalu Perspectives podcast series. She has been investigating natural health and healing as a host, reporter, writer, and producer for more than 15 years.

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