Where are you living? No, I don’t mean which town, or whether you’re in a house or apartment.
I mean, what space do you occupy? Do you live in your mind or do you inhabit your body?
It’s a good question to ask yourself because in our busy lives it can be all too easy just to occupy the top two inches of our body and live in the mind.
And when we live in our minds we’re rarely present. We over-analyse the past and fret about the future. We’re at the mercy of the to-do list in our heads. We lose perspective. We might fly off the handle at the merest provocation. We daydream, disappearing into our thoughts.
Occupying the mental plane of existence disconnects us from our body. Our breath becomes shallow and our muscles get tense and tight. We ignore our body’s needs to or even stop noticing them at all.
When we ignore our body, such as its need for regular movement, rest and relaxation, and good nutrition, we cut ourselves off from our physical foundations. This affects our base chakra – Muladhara. Living in our heads we lose the sense of stability, safety and security a balanced base chakra gives us. And this can manifest as problems with the feet and legs, the skeletal and immune systems, and the lower digestive tract, as well as feelings of fear and anxiety.
Put yourself back together
So, how can we reassemble our body and mind?
Grounding brings our Base Chakra back into healthy function. The Sankskrit name for this chakra – Muladhara – means “root support” so when we ground we actively root our awareness into our body, the physical world and the earth. We root our awareness into the here and now – we become present.
Physically we ground by re-establishing our connection with the earth through our legs and feet. Mentally we can ground by imagining roots anchoring us to the stability of the earth.
The simplest way to ground is to get outside and feel the earth beneath your feet – barefoot ideally! Walk slowly feeling into each step as you lift then place each foot. Connect to the healing vibes of the earth. Or, go and sit or stand by a tree – let its roots become your roots. Feel the tree’s strength and steadiness.
We can also use our yoga and meditation practice to ground.
Grounding with yoga
Mountain Pose (Tadasana) – stand in stillness, feet hip-width apart. Knees soft, core gently engaged. Feel the inner support of your spine and relax your muscles around that inner support.
Feel the soles of your feet in contact with the ground you are standing on. Feel the strength and stability in your legs, rising to your core. Let any excess nervous tension flow away down and out through the soles of your feet into the earth.
Move your attention from the frenzy of thoughts and invite a feeling of tranquillity as you stand still in silence.
You are as strong and still as a mountain.
Crocodile Pose (Makarasana) – lie face down, legs and feet wide and let your heels turn in towards each other. Rest your forehead on the backs of your hands. Breathe deeply. Feel your abdomen pressing against the strong ground as you inhale, and relaxing as you exhale. Simply rest on the ground and allow the anxiety, physical tension and busy thoughts to drain away down into the earth. Repeat to yourself: “I release my worries. I let go of tension. I am becoming calm. I am calm.”
Also, Warrior Poses help us to ground by feeling a strong connection to the earth through our legs and feet.
Child’s Pose is another gentle way to ground; we can withdraw our senses inwards away from outside stimuli and feel our connection with the earth.
Grounding with meditation
Sit in a comfortable but upright position. Close your eyes. Take some deep breaths.
Notice where your body is in contact with the ground, or with the surface you are sitting upon. Let yourself feel supported. Become aware of the effects of gravity on your body: sensations of being supported, being held. A pleasant heaviness. Feelings of stability and stillness.
Feel as if you have deep roots, anchoring you firmly to the strong earth beneath you. Breathe out, down into the ground. Connect to the silent strength and stillness of the earth. And as you become rooted, YOU become strong and stable. Your body relaxes. Your muscles release tension. Your mind becomes quiet and calm.
Rest for as long as feels good, connecting to the earth, connecting to strength and stability.
To finish, imagine you can draw up nourishing energy from the earth, through your roots: maybe strength, courage, stillness. Let your body, mind and soul be filled with the energy you need.
Then slowly begin to move and carry on with the rest of your day, reenergized through connecting to the infinite support of the earth beneath you.
Know you are supported
So, whenever you feel off balance, get out of your head and come back into your body and feel your feet on the ground.
And know that you always have the stillness, rock-solid stability and security of the earth beneath you to tap into when life’s demands are leaving you overwhelmed, confused and frazzled.
You are safe. You are secure. You are loved. Let the earth hold you.
This article first appeared in OM Yoga Magazine, October 2016.
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