Holding Your Ground

By April 17, 2013No Comments

Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground. ~ Theodore Roosevelt


Last spring, I took a tumble. It happened so quickly and stealthily. It was almost as if I had nothing to do with it. But, of course, I had everything to do with it.
One minute, I am walking along a trail chatting with a friend, our children scampering happily behind us, exploring the woods. The next minute, my feet fly out from under me and I am airborne, propelled through the air, like an acrobat without a net, sliding down a dirt hill where I land with an unceremonious thud on my tailbone.

I sit dazed, as the group gathers around me with concerned expressions. Feeling foolish and clutzy, I remark how the path is not nearly as solid as it looks and dust myself off. My bruised tailbone is less than impressed, though. It takes about two weeks to stop complaining. And to boot, I have to miss a few weeks of my yoga teacher training course.

Later that day as I sit on an icepack reflecting, I realize that the diagnosis—the reason for my wipeout—is: I was not grounded. Just before our walk in the woods, I had been giving an energy treatment, which was interesting as always. As I finished up, I discovered I had to pick my son up from school in a few minutes. So, instead of checking in and grounding myself, as I usually would, I rushed off impulsively. And the rest is history.

We live a busy world. If you are like me, you are often mentally planning and revising check lists. As a result, we are often “in our heads,” doing too many things at once. One thing is challenging enough when you are ungrounded. Have you ever tried texting and walking? Or eating in the car? (No, not texting while driving!) Sometimes we get lucky. We make it to our destination with our email sent and our phone tucked in our pocket. We finish our sandwich at a stoplight without wearing it.  But other times, we find ourselves on a collision course to calamity: tripping while you text, splattering food all over your car like a bad art project, or sitting dazed at the bottom of a hill.

In the Chakra Balancing Workbook, celebrated author and yoga teacher, Anodea Judith describes being grounded as “the process of maintaining dynamic contact with your body, the earth and the reality around you.” A grounded person is fully present in the moment.  When you are grounded you feel both vital and secure.  You can literally hold your “ground” under stress. And you have an inherent sense of your right to be here. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Grounding is all about maintaining a healthy root chakra. Situated at the base of the spine, the first chakra is the foundation of entire chakra system. Without a foundation, little else can be accomplished. It’s Sanskrit name, muladhara, means root support.

Although our bodies have many chakras, we tend to focus on 7 main chakras: energetic “discs” that receive, absorb, and direct life force energy. Located in the subtle body, they begin in the base of the spine and end above the crown of the head.  They effect our physical (glandular, organ functioning, and chronic conditions, to name a few), emotional and spiritual well being. Yoga, meditation, energy therapy and diet can influence our chakras for the better. (For an in depth analysis, check out Eastern Body, Western Mind).

For energy therapists, such as Reiki practitioners, chakras serve as a road map, allowing us to tune into your physical and emotional health. As energy flows through your system, it moves through each chakra. In some cases, the energy flows smoothly and in other cases it gets stuck creating a “block.”  A long term blockage creates problems.

This first chakra connects us to the earth, energetically rooting us. It is ruby red in appearance, the color of vitality. Not surprisingly, its element is earth.

It is like the foundation of a house. When this chakra is unhealthy, everything else above it can become unstable. In the West, we often to put more emphasis on the upper chakras, thinking that they lead to enlightenment, to spiritual advancement. But each chakra has its role. As human beings who live on the earth, the root chakra requires important attention.

In a workshop I took on grounding with Anodea Judith a few years ago, she explained how getting grounded can help you bring your ideas to fruition. We have two main currents that run through our systems. The liberating current which flows up through our chakras and the manifesting current which flows down. When we focus on grounding our root chakra, we energize the manifesting current that runs downwards through our bodies, giving our ideas solidity and, thus, more easily bringing them into being. If you are a person who has a number of incomplete projects, like I was, you may want to check in on your root chakra.

Are You Grounded?

This was an exercise we used in the workshop to discover the above.

Find a person of similar height and weight.

  1. Stand facing each other.
  2. Grip one another’s right forearm. As though you are shaking hands.
  3. Plant your feet, bend your knees and try to pull your partner down.

This will seem like a bit of a tug of war crossed with a wrestling match. Don’t get too carried away but have fun! One of you will most likely fall over and the other will be left standing. If you are still standing, you are, at the very least, more grounded than the other person. If you are on the floor, well, good for you for trying and you may need to work on your grounding!

How Do You Ground Yourself?

1. Do less.

Slow down. Try not over schedule yourself. Set good boundaries. Check in throughout the day and take your emotional pulse. If you find yourself overwhelmed, pulled in different directions, a Christmas cracker about to explode, give yourself an intervention.

Daily Grounding Intervention

Take at least two minutes or more to:

    1. Sit.
    2. Place your firmly feet on the floor.
    3. Draw your attention to your sit bones (the boney points in your hindquarters) and all of the places your body comes in contact with the chair.
    4. Breath.
    5. Focus on allowing your energy to settle, to draw downwards.
    6. When you feel calm and renewed you may resume your activity. You may find, however, that your focus has shifted. Your perspective has changed. And, as a result, you may decide to something completely different.

2. Practice yoga or meditate.

A regular yoga or mediation practice is a great way to stay grounded. Yoga teachers create entire classes based on grounding. You can also explore the grounding qualities of any asana, by focusing on your connection to the earth while in the posture. The places where your skin touches the ground. Child’s pose, Chair, and Downward Dog are three of my favorites for their grounding qualities.

The following is a spin on an asana/mediation (from Anodea Judith’s Chakra Balancing Workbook).

Mountain Pose for Root Chakra

  1. Stand with your feet together or slightly apart.
  2. Lift and spread each of your toes, pressing the balls of your foot into the floor. Then, lay them back down.
  3. Firmly press your feet into the floor. Really noticing your connection to the earth.
  4. Bend and gently straighten your legs, lifting your knee caps.
  5. Firm your should blades into your back, and allow them to slide away from your ears, not hunching them.
  6. Allow your arms to hang beside your torso.
  7. Grow long. Noticing how pressing firmly through your feet allows you to “root to rise.” As you press down, your body rises up.
  8.  The crown of your head rests over your pelvis. Chin parallel to the floor. Close your eyes.
  9. Repeat, steps two and three. Lifting your toes and pressing them down in quick succession. This stimulates your root chakra.
  10. Go inwards, notice your center of gravity.
  11. Visualize your torso like a tree trunk.
  12. See roots sprouting out of your feet. Healthy, vibrant red roots filled with “molten core,” connecting you with strength and stability to the earth.
  13. Let anything that does not serve you, unwanted energy, aches, pains or even patterns flow down and out through your feet and “roots.”
  14. When this feels complete, draw up vital energy from the earth through your roots to energize your body, just as trees draw nourishment from their roots.
  15. Take this calm and centered state with you throughout the day.

3. Find tools to keep it interesting.

Crystals are a wonderful way to connect with your chakras. Each crystal resonates with one or more chakra and can infuse chakras with healing energy.

  1. Find a red crystal, such as a garnet or ruby.
  2. Make sure the crystal is “cleared” ahead of time, by spraying with rose hydrosol or sitting it in a salt bath over night. To be most effective, crystals must be cleared regularly.
  3. Hold the crystal in the palm of your hand. Set the intention that the crystal balance and clear your root chakra.
  4. Sit comfortably, taking natural inhalations and exhalations.
  5. Draw your attention to your root chakra at the base of your spine. You may sense it and even see it as three dimensional red wheel, gently spinning.
  6. You may repeat a mantra like: “I am supported by the earth. I am connected to my roots. I am balanced and grounded now and throughout the day.”

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Get Dirty.

Getting to know your root chakra is about connecting with the earth. So spend time doing what you love in the dirt, like gardening. Or just sit with your back against a tree. They are the most rooted beings on earth. It’s simple, easy, and free.

Get creative and find what works for you. At the very least you will fall down less and hold your ground more. Your ideas may even take flight.

Be grounded!