The Too Small Pot: Expand your Roots

Estimated read time... 4 minutes


I have a plant that sits next to my computer. It is in dire need of a larger pot.

In fact, it is so big it is growing up and out of the pot that it is in, yet the leaves are starting to wither.  The plant is starving and dying to grow – it cannot expand its roots thanks to the too small pot.

I cannot help but think of this plant, its too small pot, and the energy that all of us expend to stay rooted in the same ways of doing things.

What holds people (including me) back from taking on more of the life we individually dream?  We all wonder, worry, and fear if this new pot that we want to move to is not going to be right, a good fit, too big, make us suffer or feel uncomfortable. When we stay rooted in our current situation, we expend an immense amount of energy and complexity involved in maintaining the status quo.

We expend tremendous resources to reroute the energy that should be expanding outside of the status quo, growing into something new, and end up expressing this energy in unconstructive ways that ultimately hold us back.  In doing so, we resist the deep inner call to step outside of our self-limited spaces.

We get angry, irritable, depressed, anxious, downtrodden, and listless. We can develop strange symptoms that are seemingly unrelated, and can make ourselves crazy with chasing one thing after the next after the next. Have periods that are painful, outbursts of anger, or mood swings with insomnia? Hot-tempered or easily angered in situations that are not going according to plan, or running smoothly in general? Have bowel movements that alternate from diarrhea or loose stools to constipation, or belching, abdominal distention, or gurgling in the abdomen? Or, do you feel plain old stuck in life – like there are too many obstacles in your path that you cannot see or work around?


Are you plain old stuck in a pattern that is no longer working for you?

When was the last time you looked at your roots?

Just like a potted plant or tree that has outgrown its home and is no longer thriving, if you have been in your modus operandi for too long, you may start to feel stifled, frustrated, angry, and have mood swings. If you have been forcing yourself to tap into your reserves of energy (i.e. pushing yourself to keep going even though what you are currently experiencing is no longer nourishing you), it is time for you to consider what sort of pot, soil, land, you are living in and how you are taking care of yourself, is your life taking care of you.

Is your modus operandi too small for the life you want, the life you are living?

Is it time to break out of your too small pot, to expand your roots?

In Chinese medicine, the creative – or Hun- spirit rests in the Liver. Much like life, the Hun and Liver operate on a cycle: sleep-wake, birth-growth-maturity-death; spring-summer-fall-winter; day-night; creation-destruction-creation from the destruction; menstrual cycles; and so on. We, as humans, go through creation cycles just as much as the world around us. The Liver energy is in charge of ensuring that these cycles run smoothly – that no step is missed or out of sync.

If we get out of sync (i.e. stuck in production day-time mode all the time), everything else suffers. We cannot function the way we were intended to, we cannot grow -nor rest- the way we need. We get stuck in a dysfunctional modus operandi.

This energy gets very frustrated when it cannot grow and move the way it needs to – sound familiar to you?

We all have a seed of potential within us that can be nourished and cultivated to manifest fully in our lives. It doesn’t matter if you live in a concrete jungle, or in wild unspoiled terrain – life finds a way to manifest in the smallest cracks, on rock cliffs, even deep in the arctic and the depths of the sea. It is all there, waiting to be nourished and to grow. As one season follows the next, our creative energy (Hun) follows our soul’s spirit (Heart, the Shen) throughout the cycle of life, in a dance between sleep and activity, creation and contemplation.

If we listen to, and follow, our Heart to manifest the potential in our life the Hun will ensure that we have creative solutions and plans to manifest those dreams. I think this is why, when we follow our Heart’s inner call, things seem to fall into place for us. Solutions which once seemed impossible spontaneously manifest, plans come together, teachers appear at the right time, help shows up, we flow and get what we need – all so we can follow our inner call.

Listen deeply, carefully, and sincerely; then make the choice to start, take the first step, the next, and another, and another, ad infinitum. If we are moving forward, toward the dream, the goal, nourishing our inner call and potential, we are unable to stagnate and become root-bound in our too-small pots and lives. The world opens up for us, our roots can grow where they need and we can rise to the occasion free of the exhaustion and frustration of another dead-end or block, free of the feeling that we are stuck in the same patterns of living. You become free, your body and soul open up, take it all in, and uses that energy to catapult you forward.

What is stopping you?

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