Root Down to Rise Up

In yoga, there is a phrase: Root down to rise up. Find your foundation. Find your center. Find your connection to the earth before you can begin to stretch for the sky. Otherwise, you will lose your balance; you will lose your connection to your center. You have to go inward before you can go out.

The world around me flexes and constricts in ways I never could have imagined, and it takes so little effort to drift along a path of hopelessness. The signs are everywhere; you don’t have to work hard to see the chaos and uncertainty that permeates the atmosphere. A quick glimpse of the headlines or a scroll through any media feed and I am easily down a rabbit hole that seems to only lead to more isolation and loneliness.

I am reading a quick-read YA novel (not a dense, change my life and must get into the hands of my students book, but a good one nonetheless) and I stop and think about how this book could find its way into my class. Once I stop reading to think, I begin to see the bigger picture come into focus: book clubs and craft discussions and mini-lessons on author’s voice. This inevitably leads me to picturing my classroom and I am stopped cold. My classroom may not go beyond my laptop for the foreseeable future. My classroom may not exist.

Somewhere between giving in to the worst and envisioning the best is me. I don’t know if I’m standing in a void that doesn’t really exist or if I am, simply, sharing the space that we all inhabit right now.

I am a teacher and teachers plan. We plan lessons, units, semesters and entire years. We plan for generic, nameless students and we plan for individuals. We look back and see what has worked; we read and talk and search out what works for others; we brainstorm and make lists, dog-ear pages & bookmark sites. We anticipate the future based on what we know about the past.

We root down into what we know in order to rise up and meet the challenges of what is coming. That is what the last eighteen Augusts have looked like for me….eighteen end-of-summer-beginning-of-falls that are failing me right now. I am trying to find my center, my foundation, my connection. I am rooting down into everything I know, grounding into my mere fifty years of existence, reaching for this future.

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8 thoughts on “Root Down to Rise Up

  1. Yours is a lovely, poetic take on a theme many of us are writing about. I love how you start with the yogic principles and move to your personal reading then to classroom planning, and then you are “stopped cold.” I personally feel stymied as well right now, trying hard to imagine the new phase of education and my part in it. I will seek to stay rooted, in order to live and grow and hopefully help others flourish as well.

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  2. I’m always so happy to see a new post from you! I love the image of rooting down to rise up. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking of ways to embrace online learning (getting to see students’ pets and houses when we videoconference, asking them to show something special from home that they wouldn’t necessarily want to bring to school, the weird intimacy that leaning into a computer sometimes brings–sometimes in different ways than a whispered conversation in a crowded classroom) and distanced in-person learning (hopefully it will push me to spend more time with my students outside, hopefully it will push all teachers to focus more on getting kids to love reading and writing and to build literate identities rather than racing to prepare for assessments). I hope you can find some silver linings to get excited about with colleagues. On a different note, I hope it’s okay to ask about your son. I’ve been thinking of him and you, and hoping for a post to hear about how he’s doing.

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    1. Your words are always so authentic and thoughtful! Thank you!! My son is doing well…he is off of all meds and shows no signs of any illness. We are grateful (yet cautious) and counting our blessings. These are scary & unpredictable times, to say the least!

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  3. Your post was calming and reassuring. We can root up and rise up to challenges. You root in your values and you use your creativity to keep the essential visible during the chaos and uncertainty and the complications of distance learning. Thank you for this post.

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  4. Yes, rooting down into what we know. There is some comfort there and we know eventually we will find a way out of this. In the meantime, walks in barefoot on the grass/dirt help me find that rooted feeling.

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  5. Your metaphor of rooting down to rise up resonates so well in these times. (It also reminds me that yoga is calming and centering and I need to make time for it.) Thank you for sharing and offering a visual I will surely return to in the coming days.

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