Root to Rise: Turning Inward in Challenging Times to Expand Your Self and Purpose

By Lauren Ash. Photography by Deun Ivory.

Black Girl In Om turns four this month. Wow.

How did you grow so quickly?—A question I receive often.

I believe our continuous blossoming is due to the intersection between clear intention, divine timing, visionary thinking, and a widespread urgency for our mission. But there is one more absolutely essential ingredient—one that I believe is crucial for all of us who are vessels for a greater purpose (which we all are, even if your purpose is still to be discovered). The ingredient?

The willingness to turn inward, again and again; to separate the illusions from Truth and allow the Truth to rise and mindfully shift you forward in directions in alignment with divine intentions. As a vessel, I must always be open and willing to turn inward, root down, and tune out, in order for true expansion in alignment with my intentions to manifest.

I know discomfort. I know what it means to suffer. I have met death, both literal and metaphorical. It is what I do when faced with these very real aspects of humanity that matters. In saying “yes” to the divine appointment of leading Black Girl in Om, I have consciously agreed to face, rather than run away from, the trials and tests that are inherent to journeying deeper into my purpose and guiding others in finding theirs.

My guess is that if you’re reading this, you, too, have either made an agreement to deepen into your purpose or have at least made a conscious decision to open yourself up to discovering what it is. There will be times where you will sense threats, tests, and tribulations that will have you feeling you’re not on the right path. These feelings aren’t your Truth. They are guides, however. Committing to an exploration of your emotional reactions to these challenges offers you the chance to get to the source of your responses and to grow roots that keep you grounded. Here are a series of questions to consider, journal about, or explore with a therapist:

  • Recall the last time that you felt like you were being tested. Did you feel as though life was happening to you or for you? Do you sense a difference between the two? Is an empowerment or victimhood mentality more comfortable for you? Explore the reasons why.

  • When feeling “not like your self” or out of your comfort zone do you try to mask it and move forward acting as if everything is fine both to yourself and your loved ones? If so, how does this feel on a emotional-spiritual level? How might it feel to give yourself greater permission to honor how you’re shifting and expanding?

  • During times of transition, do you resist the sacred shifts occurring or do you flow with them? Regardless of your tendency, note how your choice feels and how your choice influences your surroundings.

I’ve discovered that self-inquiry and rootedness are friends. In times of uncertainty, challenge, and revolution, I believe one of the best tools is turning inward. In doing so, I am able to root down and feel more solid within myself regardless of what is happening within and outside of me. No matter how uncomfortable, scary, or daunting. I’ve kept a note that a friend scribbled to me in 2015 that shares:

“Our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are deeply uncomfortable, unhappy or unfulfilled. for it is only in such moments propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of ourselves and seek our truth.” Unknown

“Step out of ourselves and seek our truth.” Pardon while I get a bit philosophical, but I believe that the “ourselves” referred to here references the smaller self that is a part of, but not the entirety of, our Higher Self. Stepping out of ourselves, then, means surrendering the self with full trust that doing so empowers the Self to unfold. Stepping out of ourselves means refusing to take on a victim mentality, acknowledging that feelings of discomfort are signs of growth, and that a refusal to grow has no place in your life if you have committed to intentional living and spiritual growth. And so after self-inquiry and the rootedness that ensues, it is then the Self that is empowered to move forward: expansively and with a more voluminous vision in hand, as well. Relinquish the self, amplify the Self, clarify the vision, increase the purpose.

Let me be clear. Rootedness doesn’t always feel good. Let us detach ourselves that the path towards healing, wholeness, and our Highest Self rising is supposed to feel good. This is an illusion that is popularly fueled within the contemporary wellness space, one that I encourage you to shed. This and many other illusions will be made more clear to you when you decide to step into self-inquiry as an ongoing practice, and tune out what you have committed to in the past as your truth in favor of a higher Truth. Consider a plant, or a tree: it has deep roots and when a storm hits the depth of its roots can determines the quality as well as longevity of its life. Let that sink in.

Whatever you’re facing, allow the challenge to teach you. This is a practice. Ease yourself into a curiosity, rather than a resistance, about the pain. Mindfulness expands your compassion for yourself and others who may be apart of the challenge. Zoom out of your discomfort, your annoyance, your “why me” and ask yourself bigger questions related to your spritual identity and your purpose.

I’ve discovered that my purpose is not static; it is ever-shifting as I am. God has granted me the beautiful and complicated reality of being a being of nuance. Unlike our human traditions of gift-giving, the spiritual gift-giving that occurs related to our purpose is one that continues to reveal itself over time.

Again: How did you grow so quickly?—A question I receive often.

I would appreciate the opportunity to resist something—the notion of “quick.” Nothing, absolutely nothing, worth cherishing happens quickly. To praise, appreciate that which can happen apparently “quickly” is a construct rooted deeply within our capitalist consumerist culture. Black Girl In Om didn’t grow “quickly” but it did, and does, continue to unfold intentionally. It is also rooted in many, many lives, challenges, and over comings of black women who have paved a way for us to thrive according to our own definitions. So, Black Girl In Om has actually been a long time coming.

Root down, love. Because of your conscious choice to do so, despite all odds, you will certainly rise.

With love,

Lauren Ash

P.S. Recommended teachers who might support you in your further exploration on some of the topics I explore above. Everything I wrote here is from my experience, I am a human being journeying deeper and am no expert other than of my own experience.

Rev. angel Kyodo williams

Gary Zukav

Dr. Crystal Jones

Liana Naima

Lalah Delia