I have a new meditation practice. You may now call me Jordana sempervirens, because I meditate about redwoods every day for at least the next six months. It's been having surprising effects....
My redwood changes me. I feel baby roots unfurling from my root chakra and waking up and reaching out. Two big tap-roots we call "legs" make it all the way to the ground and have these super-feelers on their ends we call feet, and they are tremendously keen to receive energy. My *legs* feel totally different. Charged. The morning after my first tree meditation I woke up and my feet felt curious to feel things. Then I put them on the ground, and, WHAM! Sensation shot up through my legs, and through my slowly-waking-up-and-uncurling root chakra up the rest of me.
I practiced and felt the last big missing link dropping into my dance. But first: my prior missing link had been, as said, teaching myself to hang my body from my occiput, which led me to reinvent the Alexander Technique with the help of my pet fish. As a demo model at massage school, I noticed that what I was doing was consciously relaxing my muscles. I had fun noticing in yoga that the "gravitational pull" that hung my body parts from said occiput went in the direction of my intention, not just straight down. So "gravity" could pull my arm *up* or to the side or wherever, as if I were in a bubble to whose perimeter I was always expanding. I had even *more* fun one day, bored in a too-easy Pilates class, when the teacher told us to pick our arms up and then relax them: I noticed that I could leave the meat of the arm up and drop the bones to the floor. Arms were easiest, but I learned how to drop my pelvic bones to the floor too—and suspected I should probably do it with my spine but couldn't manage it. I played with the fun fact that muscle "gravity" corresponded to intention and bone "gravity" corresponded to the earth's center.
But my geeking-out was incomplete because I had a one-way dance energy flow in this model: it was all going *out* and nothing was coming *in*. Sounds suspicious! Also I was mentally holding up my occiput (from which everything hangs) with a giant hand, which was inelegant.
Enter the tree, the missing missing link! Suddenly, earth energy is shooting up through my new baby feelers and roots and *sending* my occiput up! I no longer have to work at all, therefore this model is clearly correct. I drop my energy out and down and the earth sends its energy up and in. My dance transformed. Earth energy going up looks *an awful lot* like a highly engaged core, and has the same effect...but the core engagement is a *side effect*. Instead of thinking about mechanically activating my psoas/obliques/pelvic floor/serratus/whatever, I am like a plant! Remember all those plant diagrams from biology? The water running straight through the plant cells? This happens because all the plant cells are aligned correctly. So the water can just *go*. Now I'm turgid (but in a good way—perhaps "active" or "engaged" is better) with earth-energy running up through me. Suddenly I'm springing off the floor. Instead of efforting to *make* myself follow my occipital directional intention, the earth-energy is *springing* me effortlessly.
So now I do no work: *clearly* correct. All physical activity got markedly easier when I started hanging off my occiput, I cut 15 minutes off my commute walk time to school while feeling like I was walking slower. I decided Pilates is a misguided fad and taught all wrong because you're never going to stabilize your core by following minute body-part directions, whereas if you just Non-Do, it stabilizes *itself* with no effort. "Screw Pilates," I say gleefully to myself, and continue to go, chuckling inside as I ignore the teacher's instructions and have a super-easy class by just allowing things to drop away. BUT now that I have this active ground energy shooting up through my trunk, dance is also no work. It's actually a charging thing, it *gives* me energy, and not just endorphins.
And then I noticed something else. Today I got to dance with a real live person instead of just shuffling around alone in my dining room, and, after this crash-course in root awareness, I found that I also soak up energy from my leaves and branches! A maestro once told me, "use my energy to stand up straight! Use me!" But it's the kind of thing that doesn't make sense until you accidentally do it all by yourself. But now, with my branches wrapped around another tree, I found they were sucking up his energy and sending it up through me, and also using it to spring myself in the direction of our intention. Wow! Now I was working even *less* than before, if such a thing was possible! —I had previously thought of the embrace as a communicator of (huge amounts of) information, but now I see it's also just...plant food!
I thought of our roots soaking up ground energy and our branches and leaves soaking up environmental energy, and this made me think of some obscure African tribe I once read about in...The Body Has a Mind of Its Own (an easy read about the plasticity of mental body-mapping). They believe it's like there's one giant plant that has a huge underground root-ball, and lots of little sprouts sproinging up above-ground, and each human being is a sprout.
I had already been thinking of this because of the death of my aunt, which physically pained me like a root getting cut off. So it was on my mind.
I thought it was cute how earth's energy longs to re-embrace itself. It comes up through us and then its instinct is to rejoin itself in others.
The roots are for exchanging energy with the part of us that's the same (the one giant root-ball). The leaves are for exchanging energy with the part of us that's different (the separate sprouts, even the non-human sprouts). And the trunk is just for me. A perfect and natural balance.