Not to be a party pooper, but I think enthusiasm is overrated.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for genuine joy and elation. But there’s also this other kind of enthusiasm that we paint on our faces when we want folks to like us or we think we’re being polite.
You know, like when you run into someone you haven’t seen in a while at the grocery store. You may feel distracted and tired after a long day, but you still muster up the energy to look fresh and chipper—if only for a moment.
It’s human nature to want to “put our best face forward,” but this outward burst of energy MUST BE MATCHED with deep rootedness. Otherwise, it’s a fast-track to anxiety, scatteredness, and burnout.
One of my favorite remedies for this is an exercise called “Flower, Stem, and Roots” (or something like that), which I learned from my teacher and dear friend, Thea Elijah.
You can imagine any kind of flower, but I’ve got zinnias on my mind…
There’s nothing understated about the red, orange, and pink “Fireball” zinnias in my garden right now. But they’re much more than a pretty bloom. They also have a strong stem and roots that protect them from the elements and allow them to draw from much deeper reserves.
We’re not all that different.
The next time you’re connecting with someone, see how much of your focus is on your proverbial flower head (upper, front body), shining brightly for the world to see. Noooo judgment. Just observe. Next, see if you can bring a little more attention to your stem (spine) and roots (pelvis, and legs).
Don’t just think about it. See if you can FEEL it in your body.
Notice what happens when you do this. Is there a shift in your pace of speaking or moving? Do you feel more calm, settled, or energized? And do you notice anything different about the other person or the connection between you?
Remember, this isn’t about tamping down or squelching joy and excitement. It’s about making it richer and more sustainable by bringing it all the way down to the ground.
This exercise is also incredibly helpful to ease anxiety, which is the flip side of joy in Chinese medicine. When we feel anxious, our energy scatters upward and outward. There can be such an intense rising feeling that we can feel completely disconnected from the rest of our body. I know that one all too well…
Notice where your energy is right now. Even if you’re not in a tizzy, can you bring even more of your awareness into your stem of a spine—down, down, down, to where your body meets your chair (or whatever is supporting you)? From this place, see if you can feel your legs becoming strong roots that extend all the way down to the ground and beyond.
If this feels awkward and unfamiliar at first, you’re not alone. Most of us don’t even know we have a strong stem and deep roots. And strong social pressure to be our most bright n’ shiny flower selves at all times doesn’t help.
With everything going on in the world these days, extra enthusiasm just ain’t gonna cut it. We need to feel our feet on the ground and reconnect with the deeper, more resilient parts of our bodies and hearts. And from this place, I believe life will feel richer, safer, and more hopeful.
If you’d like to experience what I’m talking about, check out the video below. If you’re in go-go-go mode, this might seem a little slow at first, but please stay with me. Your nervous system will thank you.
Any of this ring a bell? Please share in the comments below!
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I’m an acupuncturist and Eastern medicine practitioner, specializing in digestive health. When I’m not teaching or writing, I’m most likely growing vegetables, plunking my banjo, or making an impressive mess in the kitchen. Learn more…