Gathering Gold: Episode 1
9:19PM Jul 27, 2021
Welcome to Roots and Crown. I'm Sheryl Paul.
And I'm Victoria Russell. And this is our very first episode of this podcast. So we're so excited to start and so grateful to you for listening. And today, we're going to start by talking a bit about the name, Roots and Crown, what it means and how it's connected to Sheryl's approach and her work. But first, we'll start by telling you just a little bit about our own names, which hopefully will help us to introduce ourselves. So Sheryl, would you like to tell us a bit about your name?
Yes. And I love this idea that you have Victoria to start with our own names, I think names are so potent and interesting, and almost always tell a story. So I am Sheryl with an S. And in the Jewish tradition, one of the traditions is to be named after a departed ancestor, but not their entire name, just the first letter. So I am Sheryl with an S because of my great grandmother, Sarah. And I always loved that growing up, I never knew Sarah, she died a few years before I was born. She was Sarah Goldstein. And it linked me to really her extraordinary story of coming over to America from Russia, when she was 12 years old, she came to live with two half brothers who should never met. And I was obviously born here because she had the courage, or she was forced, or whatever the story was, to get on that boat and travel across oceans to this foreign country, in this foreign culture without even speaking the language. So I think about my ancestry, my lineage, my connection to Russia, to immigrants. And I think about my younger son who's about to turn 12 in two days, and I can't even imagine him getting on a boat, traveling halfway across the world without us. And it fills me with so many emotions, when I really start to think about that story and who my name is connected to. So her story lives inside of me, it always has. And my story, my name, I imagine, lives inside of her as well in some way.
That's so beautiful. And so, so beautifully connected to what we're talking about today, and talking about origins. My name Victoria, was chosen by my mom, because she loves Victorian literature, like books by Charlotte Bronte, and Charles Dickens. And she loves Victorian architecture, like the style of Victorian homes. And I think about how I've always felt similar to my mom and drawn to similar things. So I think about how when I was, I think like seven, we were asked in school to draw a picture of a place where we would like to spend our Saturday and I drew an antique shop. So I was always drawn to like older, older things, and also old books, I ended up going to the same college that my mom went to, and studying English literature like she did and studying 19th century literature like she did. And so I think about how, at a certain point, maybe in our teens, maybe in our 20s, often there's a moment where we wonder, oh, how much of me is really me and how much was kind of passed down to me or pre determined. Not that my mom ever said you have to like these things or go to this school. She didn't at all. But I think it's natural to be handed things and then at some point to go like, oh, like, where am I in all of this? And when we're handed things from our ancestors, like you said, or from our family, that can give us identity and belonging and tradition. And then sometimes we might feel some sort of constriction or have these questions. Richard Rohr, he always says to "transcend and include." And he's talking about, you don't have to throw out everything that was given to you. You get to look at what was given to you, and keep the good, and then make choices about where you want to go. So when I think about origins and names, that's where my mind went to.
Yes. I love that to transcend, and include. That's such a beautiful, succinct phrase for so much of what we're doing in this healing and growing and individuation process of figuring out who we are and what we want to take with us. And not throwing everything away, I think there's that danger in the self help healing world of cutting out too much, and starting anew because we label everything that we've come from as too wounded or too toxic, or too narcissistic, or whatever it is. And I think there's a great danger in that, which really does lead us into the name of this podcast, of Roots and Crown and so many, so many directions to go with Roots and Crown. And I'm almost reluctant to say too much, because I really invite the listener to, to ponder and reflect on what comes to mind when you think about Roots and Crown. But for me, roots is very connected to a sense of lineage, a sense of ancestry, where we come from, and again, I think we're very quick these days to dismiss and to try to erase where we come from. And yet, we can't, we can't really do that, as much as we might like to think that we can, it's, it's in our blood, you know, our roots, our blood, our ancestry are our lineage. So there's that aspect of roots. And then there's roots and crown, which to me evokes the tree, which is a very central symbol of the work that I do. And it's a very personal symbol for me, for years, I wore a tree of life around my neck that my husband, Daev made for me, it was a beautiful silver pendant, that I only stopped wearing, because the chain broke, and I never got a new chain. But trees are so deeply embedded into my, my personal story, my personal mythology, my personal spirituality. And also to my work in the sense that the work that I do around anxiety and transitions and just life is really about addressing and exploring root cause. It's about healing at the root, instead of only looking at symptoms. The majority of the more mainstream healing modalities today are very much focused on symptom reduction, which is very important and very helpful. And sometimes that's exactly what we need at certain times in our lives is to reduce the intensity of symptoms so that eventually when we are more regulated, we have more of a solid trunk, if we're envisioning that we ourselves are like trees, that we can then do the deeper work of healing, instead of only managing. So there are those elements of roots, root cause, healing at the root. And also roots as, as the connective network, what lives underground what nourishes. I was looking outside earlier today sitting in my studio, and we are so blessed to have so many trees where we live in great contrast to where I grew up in Los Angeles, where there was just one very skinny, sad little tree in the corner of our yard. And I would in my imagination, pretend that that one tree was an entire redwood forest, but it was really just this one very, very lonely little tree. So it's a daily source of immense gratitude. I never take it for granted how many trees live here with us and that we get to live with. And I was looking outside today at this one particular tree and just seeing the way that the tree is obviously so rooted, but the way that trunk just plunges down into the earth. And there's this entire world underneath this trunk of this tree that we don't see, sometimes we see a tree's roots erupting up through a sidewalk or through the grass which I always think is so amazing.
But in general, we don't see that, all we see is the trunk and we see the branches, the limbs, the leaves the twigs, which is all the crown, everything above ground. But underneath is this whole world of of root systems of connectivity. And what we are learning now about trees, what we, as you know, Western modern people are learning, which I think other people's have always known is that the trees communicate with each other, they can communicate across distances with each other, through their root systems. And so to me, that sense of rootedness is also a reminder of the ways that we are all connected to each other. And that's also a central theme in my work that whatever you are struggling with, no matter how alone you feel with it, no matter how convinced you are, that you are the only one to have ever had that particular intrusive thought, that particular somatic symptom, that particular form of anxiety, you are not alone, that we we are connected in ways that we can't even imagine that our stories are our stories, they are our personal stories, but they're also the archetypal realm. So when we go deep enough, and it was Carl Jung, who really all of my work is based on, is Jungian psychology, who said that when you dig deep enough into the personal, you tap into the archetypal. So going deep into those root layers, deep into the personal, we land in the collective, in that place, where it is one shared story, one lived human experience. And I think that's very, very comforting, especially for the sensitive, anxious, creative spiritual mind that can travel often to all kinds of places in the mind that say, I am the only one, and that feel unique, not in a good way, but in a way of shame. So when we tap in, it's a shame reducer, we tap into that collective archetypal root system. We learn and we feel and we ingest through our bodies. The knowing that we are all connected, that we are not alone with our suffering. So then we move into the place of crown. Which, initially, when I thought roots and crown, I was thinking more of roots and canopy like the very top of the trees. But when I looked up crown, the definition of a crown in terms of trees is actually everything above ground, the branches, leaves, stems. But that actually makes a lot more sense for this podcast, because when I think of ourselves as human trees, and I think of our root system going down through the soles of our feet, and then I think of the trunk as this central column, which I talk about, a lot of my work is our mind, our heart, our body, or soul, on a personal level. So getting into relationship with those four realms of self. And then the branches coming out and the branches on one side, being our connection, our relationship to others, to family, to animals, to friendship, to our sense of purpose, our place in the world, our sense of bringing our gifts to our community. And then on the other side, the other limbs and branches. Being in relationship to the invisible realm, to creativity and spirituality,
to rituals. So much of what we have lost is in this invisible realm because we are such a scientific, as dream worker, Jeremy Taylor would often say, rational materialistic culture. So we are so in the rationalist materialist realm that we have lost touch with that side of our tree-ness, of those branches and the invisible realm. But that is all, that's all crown. And then of course, I don't think we can overlook the aspect of the crown at the top of the head and, and sort of that regal nature, of when we look upwards, what connects us to the sky, to the upwardness, to our highest self.
It's such a perfect metaphor and such a perfect name, I think for this podcast, as an image of your work. And I would love to go back to something you said at the beginning, about roots, when you talked about how there's some loss of lineage and ancestry and some erasure that happens there. And it just strikes me how when we do that we can almost become just a reaction against things as opposed to like, really, mindfully being aware of like, Oh, this seems to serve me. This feels good. Maybe not so much this?
I'm curious about your thoughts of kind of what gets lost when we become just a reaction against, and not just to what we've been given, but maybe also to parts of ourselves that, as you talk about, we might see as an enemy, like, maybe we even feel we've inherited anxiety, like it runs in our family or, you know, yeah...
you know, when I talk about the whole invisible side, that whole invisible realm of, of the tree metaphor, all of those branches that live in that realm of creativity, and spirituality and our ancestors and nature, it's with the invitation of each person finding their own their own spirituality, their own way back. And I think it's an enormous need for our culture today. Because we've swung so far in the other direction of the pendulum, we've swung so far, for many people from organized religion, of course, not for everybody, that we've rejected the whole thing. And what what happens then is we're just sort of walking around as these isolated units without being held in the tether of something bigger because that tether is, was fraught with pain. So it's a very tricky path back to what works for me, the gems, the goodness, the rituals, the traditions that feel good. And can I parse those out? Can I separate those out from what was so painful? And what is fraught with perhaps a sense of control or fear, or even one of my causes of, of anxiety? So it's, it's tricky over there. And then there's the piece around anxiety itself. And what happens when we push away anything with that level of vehemence of "I will not look there, go away, I just want to get rid of it, I want to extinguish all uncomfortable symptoms," is that they come back around in some other form. It's the nature of the psyche to invite us toward healing and wholeness. I think it's one of the greatest gifts of Carl Jung and Jungian therapy is the premise that all of our symptoms are messengers from the unconscious. They are arriving from the unconscious letting us know that there is pain inside, letting us know that there is something off kilter, letting us know that there are places that need our attention. And so when we get rid of them, when we try to extinguish, when we push away, they just come back around, they come back with another anxiety theme, they come back with another, perhaps as depression or as insomnia or as a different intrusive thought or as addiction, or as eating disorder, or as all of the ways that we suffer. And from a holistic perspective, from this mindset of roots and crown, of going into the root, gently, not with a sharp spade, but with our hands, of going into the earth of our being, and peering inside those dark places, and reaching out to connection with others, with the invisible, in ways that feel nourishing, then we're inviting in, in some way, we are turning that mindset of turning away and pushing away on its head and we are moving toward. I think this is very much in the mainstream now of Pema Chodron and Brene Brown, of this, you know, the way they talk about leaning in, the way I talk about moving toward, it's all the same thing. It's all the same premise of learning to welcome in and befriend these uncomfortable places inside of us and really looking at them with that lens, with that headlight of curiosity. And I think that shifts everything. And again, I think it shifts everything because when we realize that we're not broken, that our symptoms are not evidence of brokenness, but are instead coming as emissaries as messengers from our very wise inner realm, from what lives underneath, from that root system, from the unconscious, everything changes,
then the worlds open up, then we start to realize, Oh, I'm not broken, therefore, I don't have to fix myself. Therefore, this is really just about learning how to accompany myself, how to be with myself, how to explore these different root systems and branch systems and relationship to self and other, community, invisible, nature. Now, it's it becomes then a spherical and cyclical process of exploration instead of a linear finish line.
You know, what I think is so important about that, is that I think sometimes particularly people who experience a lot of anxiety who perhaps are perfectionist, sometimes I think people hear the phrase, heal at the root, or get to the root cause. And it sounds like, Oh, I just have to figure out the one thing, and I need to fix it in the one way that it needs to be fixed. And then I will be fixed and I will be perfectly healed. And I won't have to deal with any of this anymore. And when you say heal at the root, getting to the root cause or healing at the root. That's not what you mean, is it?
No, but I'm so glad you brought that up. Because it's a question I get quite often and I can hear and the question comes fraught with so much anxiety of, I don't know what my root cause is and, and if I could only figure out my root cause and I've been digging, and again, and again, I can't figure out my root cause. And for one thing, we have to open that up and say it's, it's never one root cause. There are many roots, and they are, in some sense, changing every day. So it's not something that you're going to land on and say, Oh, that's the reason for all of my pain and suffering. Yes, we can go back into our stories into our personal stories and understand the beliefs that we were raised with about feeling our feelings and understand the faulty messages that we absorbed around relationships and self and learning in our minds and, and that's all critically important work to do to make those connections, And then when I talk about root cause, it can be even on a daily basis it can be, it can be something that we might not even be able to put words to. It's not a ding, ding, ding, you got the right answer. And you are healed kind of experience. It's much more nuanced and mysterious than that. Because the fact is, we are mysterious as human beings, and there are infinite reasons, and not-reasons for why we suffer and why we have joy. And we can get very caught up in "why," and I think that's what you're pointing to is the mind's need to know why, why, why do I have so much anxiety? Why am I suffering with relationship anxiety, or health anxiety? or career anxiety? Or whatever it is? Why and? And I get that. I love Why. And most times, the answer is, I don't know. And I may never know. And yet, I don't stop seeking, but I don't seek really any more with the idea that I'm going to land on the one answer, and it's going to then solve all of the problems, or the suffering, or whatever the current thing is, that's on deck. It's more of a gentle exploratory process of, of learning. And that's why the key of curiosity is so critically important. It's being curious. It's looking at our dreams, it's looking at the worlds beneath the surface in the unconscious realm. It's, and yeah, not with the intention of, then I'll figure it out. it's so multi layered. It's so nuanced. You know, it's one of the things I've loved about my relationship with you, Victoria, is that when we're, when we're texting about something, something that, you know, may be a source of suffering for me. And I, and I think you have some wisdom about it, and we're going back and forth. And, and I never have the sense of like, Oh, yeah, that's it. That's the one reason Sheryl, and that's going to solve everything. You very much come with, "Yeah, that's, I think, a piece of it. And oh, yeah, that's, that could be a piece of it." And it's just, it's sort of this, this puzzle that we, that we're piecing together this puzzle of life, this puzzle of, of pain, or anxiety, or suffering, or, you know, compulsions, or whatever the thing is that that we're talking through, but it's, it's not this sense of, Oh, we've landed on it. And here it is. And it's a three step formula. If only right, if only that would be so great in some way. But that's not how it is.
No, and, and I'm someone who has completely benefited from, from your blog, and your work in the world as much as from having you as my aunt and my friend, I absolutely am someone who experiences all sorts of anxiety and, and I love the tree metaphor, because we all know that a tree needs soil and minerals and water and sunlight. But different types of trees need different different amounts of water, different amounts of sunlight, there's diversity, and trees, you know, they're affected by this soil that they're in and where they were planted, and whether or not the land is protected, and someone can come and chop it down or not. And you don't judge a tree for all the multitude of reasons as to why it's really flourishing or not, or what's going on, you know, you don't judge the tree, you know, there's so many factors. And I just think that we're like that, too. Like, there are certain things in our control, there are a lot of things that are not in our control. There's a lot of complexity. And I love that you talked about the mystery, because I think a certain amount of being able to accept the mystery, alongside having kindness and, and not so much judgment, is so helpful.
I love that That tree metaphor of that environment and the nutrients and the minerals and, and the particular climate. And that's why inner work is so individual, we can't formulize it, we just can't. It can't be done and finished up and wrapped up in 12 weeks. It can't. We're so complex, and we're so individual and while yes, there are archetypal, communal layers of our being. There are also ways that we are unique, absolutely unique that Victoria has never existed, and Sheryl has never existed. And that's wild and extraordinary. And if we don't have that lens of mystery, we're missing a huge piece of I think of reverence and of respect and, and of kindness that we can have around the healing process around just the human process. even forget about the healing process, right, just what it is to be human.
I know that you have a visualization. Would you like to share that?
Yeah, a really brief visualization, going with the tree metaphor in this first very first exciting podcast. So I invite you to stand up if you can, if you're walking if you can stop for a minute or two. Or you can do this later when you can stand up. And if you can take your shoes off and feel your feet on the ground. If you can stand outside even better, but if not imagining that underneath whatever surface you are on concrete or wood or pavement that underneath that is the earth is our Mother Earth. And imagining that there are roots that extend down through the soles of your feet into the dirt into the layers into the earth itself. really seeing those roots going down these grounding cords that are always connecting you to the earth. Just like a tree that you are now this tree and you have your own root system and as the roots go down and ground you so the nutrients, the minerals, the water, those invisible waterways, those invisible sources of nourishment are entering these roots, traveling up through them into the soles of your feet and rising up through your ankles, into your calves imagining the most nourishing, delicious substance. Perhaps even braided with light rising up into your knees, your legs, filling you with goodness into your hips up into your torso, the branches of your arms, perhaps lifting your arms up into that place of crown and receiving the light there as well. Sunlight or moonlight coming down through the palms of your hands through the crown of your head. Meeting with the nourishment from the earth. Seeing these two energy channels moving up and down the trunk and the limbs of your body filling you with goodness, reminding you of your goodness of your aliveness of your wholeness, of your place of belonging
and bringing you a sense of peace.
So good. Well, thank you.
Thank you, Victoria. And thank you listeners for joining us. If you would like to learn more, you can find me on my website conscious dash transitions.com and on Instagram at wisdom of anxiety. Thank you. We'll see you next time.