I dreamed roots grew out of my toe, and then days later, dreamed they grew from my thumb and fingers.
I scraped at them, dug into my skin, trying to 'root out' the growths foreign to my body, beginning to panic.
There was no pain, to speak of- but a sense of inevitability about it all- these would not go away on their own, and what I was doing to remove them was not working.
They were disturbing to me, these dreams.
Unpleasant, uncomfortable, leaving the residue of strangeness on me like a strong perfume that lasted the entire day after.
I had been restless, irritable, sad without knowing why- for days, weeks.
I didn't know what the dreams meant, why they persisted.
I tried to journal through it, meditate on it, sit with it.
I felt as if I was levitating- I couldn't get my feet under me.
Yoga felt like a joke- I couldn't concentrate on the poses, much less the mediation, the breath.
My usual visualization of a taproot reaching down into the earth wasn't working for me.
I couldn't get the images to stabilize.
It was like living with a perpetual spiritual dizziness, day in and day out.
So I waited.
Weeks went by. Nothing new came to me. I waited.
Then, as my husband and I drove out of town to visit his family 8 hours south, something shifted.
It had been over 2 years since we had seen any of them, and we were looking forward to catching up with loved ones living so far away.
As we drove, he shared with me about some things he had been struggling with, things he kept running into inside his personality and habits, trying to repress, force out, dig under, 'root out' in himself.
Nothing had worked so far, and he was discouraged, feeling defeated and helpless.
In an instant, the root dreams came rushing back to me.
I knew how he felt.
There were wounds inside of myself that I, too, was trying to force away unsuccessfully.
We talked for hours about the feelings of not being able to change, of not knowing how, and if we were to finally determine how, our fear of change and what it might look like on the other side...
It came, sliding into the car, like liquid clarity.
Fighting to eradicate the unwanted habits, reactions, feelings, and experiences that kept us locked up was not only not the answer, the struggle itself had perpetuated the pain, keeping us both from true and lasting healing- a cycle feeding on itself.
The real problem? No real love for the Self. Put more bluntly: self-hatred.
Maybe that seems extreme.
It is- and it is the truth.
Self-hatred is absolutely the root of our unwillingness and inability to let go, let out, let in, move on, rise above, and live the winged life.
Self-hatred is both sire and sibling to fear, and its entire purpose is to limit and restrict airflow to the lungs of the soul.
It is a slow but impressively effective suffocation of Self.
It lays waste and leaves our interior life in barrenness.
Somewhat humorously, I think of that memorable line from the Disney-Pixar film, A Bug's Life, "...they come, they eat, they leave..."
Self-hatred is a swarm of locust, frenzied and massive in its maneuvering.
It is also duplicitous, and deceptive.
While on one hand, it roots into our bodies and minds, sending out fingers and tentacles to wrap around each dream, each attempt, each courageous leap of faith, it also begins the process of killing off the critical lifeline to spirit- our root system to Self.
In doing this, it replaces life-giving tributaries with polluted streams and straws in our very soul, and as we allow doubt and fear to lead us, we suck up the food that should nourish us, but starves us instead with its poison.
In the car, in this weighty moment of discovery, I began to unravel the meaning of my own root dreams.
In fact, the whole week was a revelation of this inner truth, and kept revealing itself to me in different ways: a billboard depicting a girl with roots below her feet and branches made from her arms and out the top of her head, an elder aunt stopping a morning walk to point out the exposed root system under a tree in her neighborhood, another family member hospitalized and treated for a gastrointestinal blockage-the root system of the body- both receiving, absorbing, and releasing nourishment.
It was everywhere, and the root dreams returned as we visited with family this past week.
It became clear to me that, rooting myself in what I know is true, sinking into that rich soul-soil, would be the medicine for this dis-ease, this dis-order of the soul- the remedy for the poison of self-hatred.
I started to ask myself, what roots me?
How do I earth myself each day?
What reminds me to ground, to center, to return to the taproot of Self, of Spirit, of Soul?
There were simple things~
~watching the birds wake up, begin singing and calling as they glide to our bird feeder for some seed.
~ smiling at the fat squirrels who come calling below our porch, searching through the discarded seed shells for meat the little birds overlooked.
~ feeling the cool dirt below my soles, feeling into the soil below my soul...
~ eating foods that leave me feeling satisfied and not weighted down- vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, healthful oils, bright spices, aromatic beans and breads.
~ sitting in water regularly: whether baths, showers, rain showers and storms, or simply splashing hands and face with water from the sink.
~ listening to the wind chimes as they sing in the breeze, and hearing the ancestors and spirits in the ting, tang, tong of their call...
~ sitting absolutely still as the blackest of crows jumps onto my porch railing to stare at me, cock her head, then flies away.
~ walking through the woods outside my door, seeing dappled sunlight through the trees, curling into the roots of a favorite tree down by the creek.
In essence, using all my senses with natural materials, natural occurrences, earthly delights.
I am rooted by these simple experiences without the need for elaborate ritual.
And though there is a place and time for that sort of sacred space, I am learning to love myself through acknowledging the daily dramas playing out in my very own backyard and front porch.
Because I am part of it.
There is no separation between the lovely little finches and me.
There is no real difference in the gaze between sister crow and myself.
The sound of the chimes is the sound of my laughter.
The rain coming down is the tears that stream from my eyes- in joy, in grief, in relief.
They water my roots, and from those earthy, mucky fingers, I will grow tall and strong, and in love.
The trees welcome me as I tromp through the soft groundcover- last year's fallen leaves composting into this year's woodland food.
As I sit against the base and roots of my special tree, the giant ferns reach their vertebral fingers across my face, my chest, my head-
patting, soothing, comforting as the wind moves them back and forth.
You are okay, they whisper in my ears.
You are enough, just as you are.
You are lovely.
We love you, they say with feeling.
And I believe them.