...in the literal horticultural sense.
Last Sunday I was doing some chores around the house and salvaged a few forgotten herb pots. With four cups of coffee coursing through my veins I decided that I was going to grow some shit! With the herbs I'll make mint mojitos, basil pesto, and lavender syrup. Batches of jalepeño peppers will turn into spicy chorizo skewers (to compliment the mojitos), jalepeño pepper jelly, and infused dark chocolate.
I walked across the street to Garden Hood with determination. I've been told that growing peppers actually takes more effort to screw up so - I made a bee-line to varieties of the like. A kind woman assisted me in choosing a few seedlings that were ready to be potted. She pinched off a few of the budding flowers, which were mostly green with clean white slivers. She said to me:
"For the first few weeks, pinch off the flower buds to let the roots grow stronger. If it starts flowering too soon, the peppers will be too big and heavy for a plant with weak roots."
I'm taking mental notes:
- Plant the seedlings.
- Pinch the flowers.
- Pray for peppers.
Later that evening after I had planted all my shiny seedlings, I began to think more about what the woman had said. It was kind of, poetic.
Roots indicate growth.
I can't see the roots.
Roots don't turn into peppers.
I have to trust the roots.
Flowers indicate growth.
I can see flowers.
Flowers turn into peppers.
I want to eat the peppers.
Nip it in the [MEtaphorical] Bud.
What the woman had said was poetic as well as metaphoric. Specifically, I thought about how growing plants relates to my holistic yoga practice. Where else did you think I was going with this?
I want to grow stronger and wiser over time. For me, nurturing the roots means sitting with my breath at least ten minutes per day, treating others respectfully and with deep compassion, and practicing vulnerability even in the face of fear. In asana (just one of the eight limbs of yoga) it means bringing my front thigh parallel to the ground in warrior II pose and turning my inner biceps outward in every plank pose. In many cases this means sacrificing the flowery, outwardly impressive skills such as nailing a handstand. Since the yoga industry has exploded in the Western world, the ability to do inversions, splits, and pinky-toe-in-mouth poses generally equate to more than just strength and flexibility but also stability, control, and inner peace.
I love yoga. I love that yoga is spreading. But I'm frustrated with the generalizations and assumptions that are made about people who can put their bodies into certain shapes. The Instagram celebrity who can balance on their nose at the edge of cliffs feels just as much pain and sorrow as the person who can't touch their toes. The person who can't touch their toes feels just as much joy, serenity, and inner peace as the Westernized yogi. How many of the people who seem to spend much of their time upside-down actually feel, grounded?
Invest in your roots.
Invest in your roots, whatever that means for you. It might mean meditating daily, learning a family recipe, walking your dog, or sharing a story with your kids over dinner. Whatever it is, over time it should give you more satisfaction and greater peace of mind than two million likes on Instagram. That's all just a flowery distraction.
Deep breathing fills my lungs with air, chanting mantra fills my spirit with hope, flowing through poses soothes my skin with sacred sweat. Getting my front shin is parallel in warrior II aligns my bones and strengthens my muscles. I understand why it's called Warrior II because I can feel it. These aren't things that everyone can see or double-tap. But right now, it's more important that I invest in myself and trust that the work will nurture goals in my future. If I'm patient, I'll get to eat lots of spicy chorizo skewers and perhaps the same pepper plants will grow back next summer.
How's that for having my jalapeño cake and eating it too? Ok, I'm done with the metaphors. Happy Monday!