A few years ago a friend gave me a sweet little potted shrub, a Daphne.
I assigned it a particular spot in the yard and mostly forgot about it … until this spring when its blooms offered up a strikingly sweet scent. I enjoyed it for a couple of weeks, bending down to sniff it every time I walked past.
Then I began to notice something … a certain wan appearance that began to take over its leaves. Their vibrant green was fading and becoming dull. Its flowers were beginning to shrivel and drop.
It occurred to me that the wonderful springtime bloom might have been my little shrub’s last hurrah or its call for help.
Of course! It had been in its pot for years. It was time for an emergency transplant.
I grabbed a larger pot and some soil, and carefully tipped and tugged the Daphne out of its pot. As you might imagine, when it emerged I could see it was utterly root bound.
Not only did its roots encircle the inside of the pot, but they had gone round and round so many times that they formed what looked and felt like a wooden bowl.
I began breaking up the bowl of roots, teasing out individual strands, breaking off others, and it occurred to me: As people, we too can suffer from bound roots.
It can be easy to get bound up in our own expectations, goals and desires. And when plans don’t work out, or when I get tired, it often seems the easiest thing is to dig in, keep doing the same thing, sending out more and more roots in the same direction, binding myself even tighter.
Perhaps the human version of bound roots is a product of going solo, trying to do life on our own.
Often it takes a new season or a change in patterns—like sheltering in place, spending more time alone (or with others), losing a job—to reveal areas of rigidities or assumptions that no longer serve us well.
As I considered how the bound-root situation might work into a meditation for our yoga practice, my thoughts shifted from roots to the vines and branches Jesus spoke of in John 15:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”—John 15:5 (NIV)
Picture a vine. Some are much like trees, with a sturdy trunk supporting numerous branches that spread out far and wide.
To live as a branch to Jesus’ vine is to let him take care of the roots. After all, He is the One who knows us best. He knows where we need to be planted—in what environment, in what conditions, in what size pot—and He gives us the opportunity to tap into or lean on, even rest in, his strength.
Here are some ideas to explore during your yoga practice or prayer time:
Are there areas where you feel root-bound? Is it possible to create change around those areas?
What would it look like to live as a branch?