Embodying Relaxation: The Feeling of Falling and Growing Roots

The feeling starts when I lay on my back. I love lying on my back and looking up. Instantly, this centers me. It makes me feel calm, and wise. It has always been this way. It grounds me.

Lately, something peculiar has started to happen, and I do not know why. I often have this overwhelming sensation of growing roots. When I lay in bed falling asleep, and as I wake up, I feel this infinite sense of falling and being caught as my roots grow deeper and deeper and I keep falling. It is as though the roots are hugging me, and I give all of my weight to what is below me, growing light.

Savasana is the final resting pose in an asana yoga practice. The yoga asanas (poses) steady your mind to focus by instructing breath to bind to movement, and teaching you to breath through difficulty. The asanas prepare the body to sit comfortably for meditation, and prepare the mind for stillness.

Savasana involves nothing more than laying on your back, and letting your arms and feet fall restfully to the sides. It is said to be the easiest pose to get into but the most difficult to master.

The reason that savasana is so difficult to master is because our minds resist stillness. We lie in savasana, actively reflecting, wondering, planning, imagining, etc.

We have probably all had a moment when we looked out to the sky, or at something marvelously beautiful, and it has almost taken our breath away. For a tiny moment, the present moment seems to expand without bounds. It pulsates with focused energy, and that’s it. There are no worries, there are no disappointments, everything fades into that moment of connection with being really connected to the current sensations.

How often do you think about your breath? Why are these moments so rare? Have we forgotten how to just…be?

In savasana today, I started thinking about all of the profound conversations I have had in taxi cabs, on trains, on airplanes, in airports, in transit, and with complete strangers. I am very lucky. People are wonderful, every one can be a gateway into a new way of perceiving the world…if you let them be.

I want to write about the conversations that have really changed me, and I wanted to start by focusing on those temporally tiny, isolated instances of a one-time profound conversation with a complete stranger.

The first one I remembered was with a taxi driver in Cincinnati. During an arduous weeklong training on non-linear statistical methods, I snuck off to my rented flat to take a quick nap before the afternoon lecture. I was running late, and quite agitated. The driver asked me where I was headed and I told him that I had gone home to take a nap during this tough course. He asked me if I had slept all right, and I told him something really marvelous I have realized about myself — I sleep like a baby, almost always. I told him that sometimes when I am lying on my back, I can feel this sensation of my body infinitely falling and being caught simultaneously. It feels like my whole body is growing roots. It is the most restful feeling I have ever known, and I am almost in love with the feeling. And that is what I had felt that day during my nap. I told him that I wished everyone could feel this sensation at least once in their lives, that they could feel that comfortable in their own body. After a good yoga class, I will also get this strong sense of space and warmth inside my body, which I have described as feeling “noodle-y”, and also often like there is a literal spring to my step. I feel lighter. Again, I wish everyone could feel this cozy and comfortable in their bodies.

The cab driver told me a story about this one peculiar experience he had when he was a kid. He was playing basketball outside with his brothers, and there was something about the way the sunlight illuminated the colors, and the feeling of jumping and running, and seeing his brothers smiling. He said that he got this warm feeling in his body, the embodiment of a genuine contentment perhaps, and that it stayed with him throughout the entire rest of the day. He confessed that he had not felt anything quite that distinct and profound since then, and thanked me for reminding him of it.

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