For as long as I can remember, growing up has been the litmus test for how we’re doing in life. The upward trajectory of growth infects the psyche of everyone. We have to raise up what we discover and grow up to be an adult. Success is seen as climbing the ladder. To be enlightened is to move up on the scale of consciousness. The higher up we go the more security, fulfillment, love and joy we will have. This however is only one way to see maturity, success and awakening. Another is found in growing down.
The smallest plants and tallest trees send roots down into the darkness before they send shoots up toward the light. Conception for humans takes place in the darkness, the inner room of the womb long before the light of day is known. Human birth normally takes place head first with the feet as the last part to arrive. James Hillman in his unique book, The Soul’s Code says: “To plant a foot firmly on earth—that is the ultimate achievement, and a far later stage of growth than anything begun in your head.”
What does it mean to get your feet on the ground? What does it mean for the ‘Tree of Life’ to be rooted in heaven, in essence, soul, gradually growing downward toward human activities and affairs? What if an invisible guide, soul, is necessary to enter this realm of duality through the veil of forgetting? What if deepening into life, getting our metaphorical feet on the ground takes a lifetime or more? What if ultimate success is found in growing down into humility, compassion, reverence and not being ‘stuck up’?
Within the ‘earth school’ context of life, we live with our soul/essence and our personality/ego. They each have a part to play but soul isn’t consciously known until the personality experiences the outer world over time in a myriad of ways. Eventually, through many trials and tribulations, great loves and losses, the personality learns to listen to the connecting link, soul, between the external realities and the more spiritual realms we all come from. Growing down finally get’s our feet on the ground which means an integral ego/soul alignment: transcending and including beyond duality.
As I look over my shoulder at the past decades, I see how much I worked to grow up into heady external achievement. I also see how my roots were in the heavens even if I didn’t know it. I see the soulful guidance that helped me move along Life’s paths even when I took ‘wrong’ turns. Somehow the soul’s code that was given before I was born got my attention to help me grow down again and again. An image that lives in me is that of a folded leaf; feet, ankles, shins, knees on the ground with torso bent over them, arms pointing back with palms up, forehead touching the ground below the heart. It’s a posture of surrender and receptivity to soul’s guidance and destiny.
This has become a significant metaphor as it continually invites me to let go of the egoic command and control wants to let come the soulful compassionate and cooperative ones. In this posture my feet are on the ground but under the mission of service I came into this world to accomplish. It’s a way to remember to remember who I really am and how we’re all interconnected. It’s an image for the web of destiny that fits my soul’s code and patterned design. I wonder how often you’re listening to your soul, your essence, your inner guidance system? I also wonder if, in your growing up, you’re also learning to grow down? It’s the ultimate both/and of divine human Life.
- Sit quietly for a time and connect with your feeling and action centers. Put one hand over your heart, feeling center, and the other over your stomach, moving center. Close your eyes and visualize an image or symbol wanting to help you get more grounded. Stay with it and come back to it until you feel a resonance with this gift of in-sight.
- Begin and continue the process of connecting with your inner guidance system, soul, guardian angel, inner being, essence, guiding star. Become more intimate with this reality; the foot-print that will guide you Home. . . Be still and know. . .
- Upon retiring in the evening and waking in the morning, give thanks for at least three blessings and practice appreciation throughout the day. This will help you experience soul’s guidance system by becoming more aware of it. It will also give witness to the flowing river-rooting tree metaphor within you and all soul connected activity.