"Charlene was a woman who did just that. I first met Charlene at a time in her life when she was struggling to cope with three small children and a husband who traveled extensively. She had come to my Jewish meditation class hoping to learn some coping techniques. In her personal introduction Charlene described how, in the evenings when she was alone with her children, she would feel engulfed by the children's endless demands on her. This feeling would lead to Charlene's shakiness, angry outbursts, or fits of crying, all of which scared the children as well as her.

"The class began with a simple sitting exercise I called 'Roots,' in which the students imagined the bottoms of their spines elongating and extending downward, like a root into the earth. Then I asked them to imagine, upon inhalation, drawing their breath up from this root along the interior axis of their torsos, clearing out a passageway all the way up to the crown of their heads and slightly beyond, and then, upon exhalation, releasing it back down to the earth again.

"Charlene took to this meditation easily, savoring her time in silence, at the end of the first class she reported seeing an image like an elevator shaft deep in her body, cluttered with all kinds of debris, children's toys, and dense fog. As she breathed, Charlene was able to begin clearing out this passageway. This gave here a sense of personal strength.

"Charlene took this exercise home with her and practiced it daily, first rooting herself to earth, breathing long and slow breaths through her trunk, and connecting herself though the crown to heaven. The more she practiced, the easier it was to steady herself, even amid the chaos of childcare.

"Using this exercise over several months, Charlene reported far more patience and loving feeling toward her children. She also experienced two sets of roots: one connecting her to heaven and one to earth. Whenever she felt overwhelmed or disoriented, she would begin carving out her interior column with her breath, anchoring herself above and below."