transmute ancestral poison into potion for present and future generations
This was my intent and my main driver behind creating PocaHAUNTus–shapeshifting history into Herstory. Yet the tendency that I have, and that perhaps we all have, is to get caught up in the past. We begin to think and act as though that’s the way it’s all-ways been and then we get mired in the muck that made us.
Here in New Zealand we’re in the First Spring of MYOGA Seasons, the domain of the energy center at the lowest portion of the body — the tailbone, legs and feet. Our roots. In last weekend’s playshop I discussed why I don’t start here when we roll through the chakra system, even though it is usually called the First Chakra. Muladhara means root or base support and physically most of us know this to be true. Our feet and legs are our moving foundation in our lives. Because gravity hugs us to the earth, this is our usual connection to our ultimate base support, the earth of planet Earth. Before descending into the murky depths of our personal and collective root systems, many practitioners will tune into the wisdom of a wider perception inherent in Ajna Chakra, what most call the “third eye”.
Muladhara refers not only to your own immediate ancestors, but ultimately, when you go back far enough, you realize we share the same roots — we are all connected.
We are all responsible for all of it.
As I pointed out in my show, I have just as much murderer in me as I do martyred mother. There is just as much greed running through my blood as there is giving. Without a wider and wiser perspective I can get waylaid, even buried, in the heaviness of it all and forget I have a choice. And I have. Luckily I have good friends and family who gently point this out to me.
I also have legs. And my legs don’t lie.
At age 16 a trauma surfaced in my life, that I learned years later had been playing itself out for the past 12 generations (nearly 400 years) now making me the 13th generation in my family to feel this pattern manifest itself. And it rooted itself not only in my psyche, but also in my body. What was happening in my home life manifested itself in my body so I couldn’t avoid it. I’d been running since age 8, competitively since 12, and suddenly I would run 1 of 4 races at a meet and not be able to walk afterwards. Spider veins also began to appear on my legs that year. I went from imagining I’d go to university on a track scholarship, to not being able to run at all. At a time when all I wanted to do was run away from what was happening at home, I couldn’t. I did anything and everything else I could to channel my enormous amounts of energy, but running had been my métier. Running had been my thing. And now I had to stay put and dig deeper.
I’ve struggled my whole life with the tendency people have to write things off as inevitable because there are genetic precedents for them. I’m not likely to give up without a fight, even if it’s a fight with my own genes. My grandmother had visible veins on her legs and so does my mother, her daughter. Likely there were more but that’s not the sort of information that’s generally passed on and I only met my other grandmother twice. Apparently spider veins are a cosmetic issue and the treatment of varicose veins doesn’t seem to be covered by national healthcare, even though vascular weaknesses can lead to worse stories. Yesterday I was given the news that while I am healthy and have worked pretty conscientiously to prevent vein failure, at some point it would be best to have two main branches of my circulatory tree trimmed. Some of my valves are not working and blood is pooling in my lower legs. If I had insurance it would be free. Without it, it’s more than $8,000. This put a heavy wet blanket on my otherwise bright mood.
However today is a new day. Today I have determined to re-double my efforts with what I can do — wear compression hose, eat foods and take supplements that help strengthen the vein walls, remember to sleep with my legs elevated, do inversions more regularly, and strengthen the muscles of my legs even further. Yesterday I wanted to give up. I felt suctioned down into an inevitability, into the patterns of my past, and the ordinances for my future that my genes put on me.
But today I woke up. And in waking up with a wider perspective, I can see that my lifelong journey has been in learning how to support myself. As a child the arches of my exceedingly narrow feet were low, yet with years of focus and practice I have reformed my feet. This is not cosmetic. This is structural. And undergirding the structural is the subtle. I have created internal support systems in my feet that radiate up into my whole body. In order to do this, I’ve had to re-work how I support myself energetically, emotionally, mentally, psychically, socially.
Now I find myself at a deeper and more subtle, yet just as structurally evident, juncture. I am working on un-twisting my pelvis. I’ve felt and seen the asymmetries of my hips and legs while riding bicycles and horses, in how my trousers fit, and how the center seam on my boots aligns with my shins, or doesn’t… Yet it’s been a puzzle to know what to do to create more symmetry. By trusting the longer journey and staying steady with the process, I’m beginning to make progress.
For most of this year I’ve been focusing on anchoring my right heel and sitz bone down into the earth. I’ve realized that years of running around a track and veering to the left, especially in those later years of puberty when hormonal changes loosened my sacro-iliac ligaments, had twisted my pelvis. When I pushed off more with the outer right foot, I torked the right side of my pelvis so it now tilts forwards and outwards. As my friend and fellow yoga teacher Katrin said, quoting an English nursery rhyme, “There was a crooked man…who lived in a crooked house…” Meaning that
attempting to build on a wonky foundation will only produce more wonk.
This nursery rhyme is said to be about crooked politics between England and Scotland in the early 1600’s and their difficulties of living side-by-side, sharing a border. It’s apparently about the betrayal the Scots felt by their leader who made a deal with the English. At the same time in history, there was a collision between cultures happening on the shores of Turtle Island. Perhaps those Scots and English carried their patterns across the Atlantic with them and this disjunct goes back even further than 12 generations. I’m no historian, but in my own her-story I know that most of my life has been a practice of learning to marry the male & female, the right & left, the yin & yang, the betrayed & the betrayer. How can two sides border one another happily and even learn to cooperate and thrive? I’ve been endeavoring to know what it means in my own life, my own body, to have a happy marriage.
Easy enough right? Just look around you at all the happy marriages and follow suit. Exactly. I don’t know about your family, but mine has all sorts of strife — abandonment, betrayal, divorce, insanity, incarceration, even suicide and murder. How do you escape what’s all around you, what’s brought you into the world, what feeds and sustains you? At least until you’re old enough to feed and sustain yourself… This is what I was attempting to bring home to the playshoppers — at some point it becomes necessary for your own growth and blossoming to consciously choose your sources. Is this root system nourishing you? Or poisoning you? Is it providing a sturdy foundation for your evolution? Or is it keeping you stuck?
In MYOGA we go straight from Sahasrara, what most call the 7th chakra at the top of the head, into Muladhara, what most call the 1st chakra. The reason for this is because I advocate a practice that is spiralic — that spirals indefinitely through these energy centers, ideally gaining more and more awareness as you go. It’s like a hawk riding a thermal. It will spiral around over the same terrain a number of times. Each time it soars higher up and wider out so the potential for greater awareness increases. I find the hierarchical view of the chakras — starting at 1 and progressing upwards until you pop off into bliss at 7 — to be misleading and difficult to integrate.
The hierarchical view occludes the inherent multidimensionality of existence.
Sahasrara and Muladhara also work well together for another reason — they are similar. They are both about acknowledging and accepting the transpersonal — that which is beyond our individual personalities but from which we come. Muladhara is about our earthly ancestors, our people, our tribe. Sahasrara goes beyond any direct lineage into all-our-relations, into unity consciousness with all-that-is.
I operate as though the body is a living metaphor — a gross physicalization of the subtle realms. I can see the physical repetitive action that twisted my pelvis and how this blockage in my pelvis aided and abetted the vascular problems in my legs. I can also see the part that genetics would play in making me a “vein-maker” as the doctor called me 10 years ago when he trimmed some broken capillaries from my blood branches. From an eagle-eye view that has passed numerous times over this terrain, I can also see that nature and nurture are intertwined. Nature has a greater predilection for repetition through the generations when how-we’re-nurtured remains unchanged. If I fail to make changes in myself — on all levels, not just testable ones that skeptics can accept — then I am more likely than not to simply pass on deleterious patterns. Should I be blessed to have a child, I want my child to have a head start in standing strong on her own two feet, on pulling up powa from her connection to the earth and to the past, and to have the freedom to feel married within herSelf even before she looks for external communion. Should my time for co-creating another generation through my own body be past, then I intend all of these strengths for all those who train with me.
May I walk in beauty. May you walk in beauty. May all beings walk in beauty.
During this cleansing eclipse season when we have an opportunity to sift through the shit and say, “not this, not that, nor those”, what has arisen for you? What old wounds, pains, patterns, or poisons have resurfaced giving you a deeper opportunity to purify? In the process how can you clarify the root sources of nourishment that best fuel your carefully tended –and intended– growth and blossoming in the world? When you can clearly say “not this, not that, nor those”, then how will you nurture yourSelf instead?
We’ve just released the Restores module which is all about setting conscious and steady foundations, nurturing yourSelf as-you-are, and discerning what to wisely release in order to strengthen what remains. You can access the free session here.