One of the Tai Chi exercises we do is called, Willow has Twisted Roots. It is an exercise pose that challenges your balance and your agility; it is intended to be symmetrically performed—alternating from one starting leg, and then to the other.
The form perse’, mimics the twisted roots of the easily-bent willow tree.
(See last paragraph for how to perform this pose!)
Because the Willow Tree bends this way and that way in the wind, it has sometimes been used as a metaphor to describe the person who is unable to stand tall on one’s own; or to not be authentically rooted; rather, that the person, like the willow, bends with each blow of the wind, ungrounded, un-anchored. I’ve found that when a person is not rooted in principles, then she is easily “blown away by fickle winds.” She cannot stand firm. She is like the willow that succumbs to the wind.
That would also mean, that the roots of such willow trees, or willow-like people, must tortuously interlock to support their often-bent core; and thus, the roots become hugely twisted in the process, and achieve less depth in their development. I asked a group of women, during a recent workshop, (and after demonstrating this pose and describing the bending willow tree) what the term “twisted roots” meant to them, in the contemplation of life. Here are some collective answers:
*Our root structures are important to our development. We need to know who we are, and for what we stand—so that we aren’t twisted, but rather that we become deeply rooted, able to withstand the blows of life, and to survive the storms and challenges.
*Even twisted roots can have their new growth become more straightened, more directed to deeper ground. We can learn to live by, and to commit to principles that better-guide our lives. Every day offers that new potential to become something more that what we’ve been; we can become the willow tree that develops new, deeper, solid roots.
*Life is a journey. We are all intended to grow—physically, intellectually and emotionally. Each phase of our lives has challenges. Perhaps sometimes we should bend like the willow (in our early growth) yet perhaps, as we mature, we then move to rootedness. Still, the seeds of authenticity, integrity, and honesty should come forth as early fruit. We need to be taught strong values by the “groves of parent trees” around us… about how to evolve into deeply-rooted stock.
• Our Emotional intelligence has much to do with our authenticity and our degree of rootedness. We can find where our development needs some work…simply by looking at our Self-Awareness and Self-Management particularly; and then to our Social Awareness and Relationship Management; we can see, quickly, where we can become more authentic, and how to align our intentions with more rooted impact. The beauty is that life is not stagnant….we keep on keeping on….we have the opportunity to keep growing and developing; we don’t have to have stunted root growth.
Bottom line: We don’t have to have twisted roots. We don’t have to bend with the wind. We can be solidly-rooted and authentic. We can learn to live by new principles…if we choose!
Here’s how to perform this wonderful Tai Chi Exercise pose:
This is performed by taking a half step forward (with either foot) and then
taking one’s other foot, crossing it over the outstretched one, placing it in front,
and then squatting, all the while holding your arms bent at the elbow, your hands
clenched, and your back kept straight (as best you can).
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