Root Work

Undoubtedly the best gift (okay, one of the many great gifts) that I got from my husband this Christmas is a banner of the seven chakras which I have seen every Monday for the past six or seven months at the coffee shop where he and I go after our counseling session. How did he know that that was the very thing that I most wanted this Christmas? A sign of his and my continuing commitment to work on being together, as well as a sign to me to allow myself to continue my spiritual exercises, beginning, as we must, with the ground.

I've been thinking a lot about things that I need to do in order to help balance my muladhara chakra, wondering how I ever allowed myself to get this badly out of balance while at the same time trying to learn how to recognize the signs of further things that I need to work on with respect to my feelings of stability, grounding, prosperity, right livelihood and physical health (as per another of my "Christmas" gifts to myself, Anodea Judith and Selene Vega's The Sevenfold Journey). Accordingly, I had my third massage of the month today and scheduled another for the end of next week. I've been trying to drink a lot of clean water, no carbonation (the Dragon Baby misses barking at the Soda Stream, but oh well!), and paying attention to how that makes my joints and muscles feel. I've been eating what feels right and noticing when something doesn't (as, for example, now, when the plate of leftovers I warmed up for lunch was maybe a tad bit too much). And I've been noticing when I start beating myself up about not being thin/limber/athletic enough to fit my imagined ideal of myself.

All of this feels like a good, if tentative, beginning, but I can tell that there is much more work still to do, starting with my attitude towards my academic work and what I need to do in order to do my job. As you know, I've been carrying a lot of resentment around with me for a fair old while now, going on a good year and then some. About what kind of work I "should" be doing vs. what it seems like I am "called" to write. About feeling under-appreciated for the work that I have done, both as a researcher and as a member of my institution. About all of the years that I spent being the "good student" when what I really wanted to do was travel around to exotic places like so many of my colleagues do, apparently unconstrained by the need to sit their butts down and think--and yet somehow still managing to publish more than I do. I'm not saying that I am healed of all of these thoughts--far from it--but the log jam is starting to give, thanks in part to a long telephone conversation yesterday with my long-time teacher and mentor (a.k.a. my Doktormutter), but also, interestingly, I think thanks to the massage.

Great thoughts come to me during massage, as if every node that the masseuse pressures is a bundle of old memories and interrupted plans. Today she was working on my legs and arms and I could feel the tension that I have been holding in all of my tendons being encouraged away. There were some amazingly painful points in my shoulders as well as in my ankles and arms. What I have been holding there all these years? Fears about not being good enough, I know. But also pride and anger about not being recognized for the work that I've done since I got tenure. Impatience, not wanting to sit myself back down to the long and tedious but absolutely essential work of reading in sources that others have not considered, in large part because I have been so willingly distracted by the thought that I should read everything that others have been working on, too. And yet, likewise, rigidity, thinking that in order to do the work that I "should" I would have to force myself to do it, regardless of how my body or mind felt.

I may have been having trouble getting myself to focus down, limit myself and accept the need for boundaries, as Judith would put it. But at the same time, I have consistently felt the need to punish myself whenever my attention seemed likely to wander. Root work, I am realizing, involves not only stilling the body, but also listening to it. Not just sitting long enough in order for the chatter to subside, but also being sensitive enough to recognize my need for a break. Not to mention, being confident enough in myself that I will get the work done without having to beat myself up over it. No wonder my Artist has been unwilling to work: she has been angry with me for never listening to her, forcing her to work when she wasn't ready because I never trusted her enough to work when the time was right. Thus, paradoxically, I have spent much of my life discounting my own accomplishments. No wonder I feel so poorly grounded. I've been cutting myself off at the roots.

Food, sleep, beautiful embannered surroundings. Walking my dog. Massages. Trusting that the work will get done if I can give it time. Sitzfleisch, yes. But not at the expense of my Fleisch. Oh, my goodness. It could be that I am at long last starting to heal. Thanks be to God.

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