Grounding Your Self

Centering
Lost in Thought

Synopsis: Grounding Your Self: So, let’s carry on with our theme, and have a look at some specific things you can do to become more grounded.


A New Series—The Body Speaks
voice of body

(In the first in this series of articles, I provided you with a handy little chart that provides the location, description, and characteristics of the Chakras. Use the link if you want to refer to it.)


10 ways to ground your self

So, let’s carry on with our theme, and have a look at some specific things you can do to become more grounded.

sciatic

Groundedness is an aspect of the first Chakra,
which is located at the tip of the tail bone, and also includes the legs and feet,
the sciatic nerves, the sciatic nerve pocket, and the feet.

In last week’s article, “Lost in Thought”—I did a fairly detailed comparison between living in your head and living in a grounded state.

I make such a fuss about this because many of my clients, whether they know it or not, have come in for therapy and Bodywork precisely because they lack ground. I’m taking this as a positive sign that perhaps the momentum for change has finally ramped up.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. Today, I received an e‐mail from one of my favourite clients. She’d had a dream, and described to me:

The kids and I were driving down a road that was beginning to flood.
I decided to go ahead — but the road was washing out and the ground from under me was “unstable.” (There’s that word again.) So I turned around to try and go back where I came from — and that was washing out. I was stuck — and began to panic.I didn’t like the feeling AT ALL! I was very afraid — even after I woke up … it stayed with me for a while.”

This dream contains the core of the “groundlessness” sensation. It’s the feeling that everything is going to be washed away—that the ground, the sand, and shifting under your feet.

In Case You Need a Reason…

Not that this is all that important, but I personally think that there’s a geological reason for why so many people feel a bit off‐balance. It goes back to the tsunami in 2004. Here’s a quote from NASA.

NASA scientists using data from the Indonesian earthquake calculated it affected Earth’s rotation, decreased the length of day, slightly changed the planet’s shape, and shifted the North Pole by centimeters. The earthquake that created the huge tsunami also changed the Earth’s rotation.”

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that, beginning in 2005, clients and friends began talking about what I also noticed in my own body—a feeling that something wasn’t quite right.

My pet theory is that, because our bodies have so much water in them, we are highly sensitive to shifts in the Earth’s orbit. Do I think that it’s possible for a human body to register a shift as subtle as 1 cm? Part of me thinks so.

I think I tossed that in there to mess with your head a bit.

That being said, I take groundedness very seriously indeed.

It’s almost impossible to live a balanced, deep, and meaningful life, while being rootless at the same time.

Here, then, in no particular order, are 10 ways to bring your attention to your first Chakra region, to find your balance, and to ground yourself.

1—Visualize
root chakra

Down, and a little
to the left, please…”

Your first, or Root Chakra, is located at the tip of your tail bone—and the way to reach it is to massage or touch the perineum. This little 2 inch area of the body is crisscrossed with muscles.

In Kundalini work, this region of the body is considered “home” to “dormant serpent energy” that, if we are open to it, uncoils itself from the Root and moves up the spine, empowering the other Chakras.

Here’s a visualization: bring your attention to your Root Chakra. Imagine a red ball about the size of a tennis ball, pressing outward from inside of you, from the tip of your tailbone. Feel the tennis ball pulsing with energy. Create the image and the feeling of pulsating energy, like a heartbeat, at the Root Chakra. Imagine that you can see and feel the warmth of this red, glowing ball.

2—Massage
kegels

You mean there’s an album???!!!”

As you take a shower or bathe, spend a moment or two massaging your perineum. Notice whatever sensations that arise. Breathe as you are doing this.

If you’re a female reader, you certainly know, and have likely done the Kegel Exercise.

For those of you that don’t know, it’s a way to strengthen pelvic muscles through exercise. In the exercise is simple.

Here’s the directions for Kegels, as found on Wikipedia:

“A popular way to identify the pelvic muscles in men and woman is to stop the flow of urine midstream. This is accomplished by contracting the pelvic floor muscles. Restarting the flow of urine is accomplished by releasing the pelvic floor muscles. Once identified this way, the pelvic floor muscles can be contracted and released independently of controlling urination. Kegels are most frequently preformed in sets.”

You might consider Kegels as a Western approach to stimulating the first Chakra.

3—Horse Stance
horse stance

I’ve talked about Horse Stance on the website, in the bodywork section concerning the first Chakra.

It’s one of those basic Martial Arts stances that is essential, and also somewhat unpleasant to do. (Not to scare you off!) When we teach Bodywork, Breathwork, or Qi Gong, we teach the pose, along with the concept of “growing roots.”

As you see from the picture, the pose itself is deceptively simple.

Your feet are no less than shoulder width apart, and the outside edges of the feet are almost parallel. Basic‐ally, you squat down a bit, as if you’re sitting on a horse. One of the keys to doing this post safely is to be sure that your knees never extend beyond your toes. This forces you to sit back. Your back is straight, and your gaze is soft as you look straight ahead. You’ll notice that my arms are extended out in front of me—you can imagine that I’m hugging a tree. I’ve always wanted to be a tree hugger!

Now to the imagination part. There are two steps.

First, imagine that there are roots running down from your sciatic nerve pockets (the dimples in your butt,) extending down your legs, out the center of your feet, and spreading down to the core of the earth. This is actually the Martial Arts part of Horse Stance. Believe it or not, if you can firmly focus on being rooted to the earth, it becomes difficult or impossible to move you—to knock you over.

Once you’ve got the rootedness part firmly implanted in your brain, you’ll likely also notice your body can feel your roots. I’d like to persuade you that they are actually there but we’ll save that for another article.

Now, and here’s the second step—breathe. As you breathe in, imagine that you are pulling your breath up from the center of the earth, through your roots.

As the in‐breath concludes, visualize the energy filling the second Chakra—2 inches below your navel, an area the Chinese call The Lower Dan Tien. This spot is the core of you, and might be considered your “balance point.” This area fills naturally with energy, as we breathe, but grow stronger and gains capacity if we breathe consciously.

On the out‐breath, visualize the breath moving up your spine to your shoulders, and then circling around your arms, as they “hug the tree.” Repeat.

4—Meditate
Burmese yoga pose

You knew that was coming, didn’t you?

I’m not going to give you a full description of meditation here. Rather, in keeping with our topic, I want to mention that “sitting” is all about rootedness and groundedness. No matter what posture you sit in, kneeling, crosslegged, on a chair, or Burmese, (see the photo) your Root Chakra is planted firmly on the “ground.” Now, sure, the Buddha indicated that you can also meditate while standing, lying down, or walking—but when I say meditate, what do you picture? Sitting, right?

The whole point of meditation is to steady yourself.

Many people think that meditation is “about” getting the voices in their heads to shut up. Good luck, not a prayer. Rather, the intention is to “simply notice” the mind’s chatter, without following it.

~ Following a thought means that a thought comes into your head, and you turn it into a story, complete with video, dialog, and a properly maudlin soundtrack.

~ Noticing a thought requires nothing more than seeing the thought arise, and saying quietly, to yourself, “Thinking. Thinking.” This is best accomplished through zazen (seated meditation), which, roughly translated, means “Sitting still, like a mountain.”

I find that, in my “sitting” practice, (the shorthand for which is “sitting,”) the more still my body is, the easier it is to simply notice what my mind is doing. The longer I practice, the more I notice that my mind, grudgingly, will follow the stillness of my body. The best way to experience this for yourself is to “simply sit.”

5—Walk
tiger walking

The Buddha also recommended walking meditation. As Dar and I practice meditation, it’s often the case that we sit for 25 minutes, and then get up and do 10 minutes or so of walking meditation—which could call “Walking Mindfully.” I’ve heard Ben and Jock describe this as “Tiger Walking.”

There are two elements to walking mindfully.

The first, and simplest to explain, is that the pace of walking changes during walking meditation. You might start out walking briskly, and after a few moments, slow down to the point where each footfall takes 30 seconds.

Second: This is where the conscious placement of the feet comes in.

To experience this, get up and stand normally.

  • Rock your weight to your right foot, and prepare to take a step with the left.
  • Raise your left foot and mindfully extended it one step forward.
  • Now, put your foot down like this: first lower your heel, and begin to shift your weight. You should feel the foot coming to the ground in a smooth, rolling motion, from heel to toe. As the middle of your left foot begins to touch the ground, your right foot begins to lift from the heel.
  • Naturally, as this process happens, your weight shifts from your right foot to your left, until your weight is fully on the left.
  • Step forward with the right foot and begin the slow, settling process again.
  • Concentrate on each step, concentrate on each foot. And, walk softly. No plodding.
6—Balance
tree yoga pose

1… 2… Tree!!!

Rootedness is all about balance. I suppose you can do anything you want to practice being in balance—walk along a beam, find an abandoned railroad track and walk along the rail, or practice balancing in Tree Pose.

This is a fairly familiar looking yoga pose and is simple to get into, yet difficult to maintain.

  • Stand with your feet together, and raise your right foot and turn the sole so that it is parallel to your left leg. Press the sole of your foot into your thigh just above your knee—your toes may overlap the side of your knee.
  • Place your hands over your heart in prayer pose — i.e. place the palms of your hand together.
  • Keeping your hands together, extend your arms straight upward over your head.
  • Hold the pose for a minute or so, or as long as you can, and then switch legs.
7—Dance
dancing

I’ll be talking about dancing when we discuss the second Chakra, as most people have incredibly tight and locked pelvises. Dancing, especially with music that emphasizes moving the pelvis, is a great way to loosen up.

That being said, Osho in particular taught his followers ecstatic dance. When we taught at The Haven, we included this process is the final exercise in a week long event. There are many Osho CDs to choose from; we picked “Osho Nataraj Meditation.” It’s a fascinating idea. For 40 minutes, you dance. With your eyes closed. The pace of the music accelerates, until you’re dancing pretty much as fast as you can—sounds like a movie title. Then the music shifts, and you drop to the floor, and just lie there with your eyes closed, meditating, for 20 minutes. The final five minutes you get back on your feet, reorienting yourself.

I’d really suggest going to Amazon and checking out the Osho CDs, and giving this a “whirl.”

8—Leg Work
leg work

If you’re receiving regular massage or Bodywork, ask the person to spend a session working on your legs and feet. If your Bodyworker is a Rolfer or Deep Tissue person, you may well have already had this experience, as legs and feet, deeply worked on, is part of the regime.

The odds are, this is going to hurt.

One of the more harrowing things that Darbella and I did, many years ago, was hike the North end of the Bruce Trail. This is a rugged piece of Ontario, complete with warning signs and everything.

Dar injured her foot, and hiked out in a fair amount of pain. The last day, as we hit the “end of the trail,” we got to what we call a slab beach. I assume there was sand somewhere down there, but the beach was covered with foot sized slabs of rock, rock that had been smoothed by the action of the water. You stepped on a rock, and it moved—it shifted underfoot—not the best for Darbella’s sore foot. I found the constantly shifting rocks just plain irritating. I noticed that my toes were cramping, and I suspect that this was because I was trying to “grasp the ground” with my toes.

I suspect a lot of people do this as a matter of course. In other words, if you are feeling unstable and disconnected, you’ll do anything to hold on. This plays out in gripping with the toes, and rocking back and forth trying to find balance. This is the source of the foot and leg pain you’ll feel if you take my suggestion.

You can also do this with a friend—not the walking and falling down part, but the massage part—by getting some massage oil, and working deeply and thoroughly down your partner’s legs, right from where the leg connects to the lower body, all the way down to the toes. Work “all four sides” of each leg—as high as you can go—all the way down to the toes.

9—Silence
silence

Spend a day in silence. You may have to set this up—go away somewhere, perhaps out into nature, perhaps to retreat center, or you can come here!

Silence and groundedness are not exactly synonymous, but they are surely second cousins. There is nothing more directly connected to the moronic musings of your mind than your mouth. Closing the latter seems to confuse the former, and a confused mind, after screaming, “This isn’t fair! I hate silence! Please, please, please, start running your mouth again!” will sullenly surrender and slow down its endless spinning.

As inner and outer silence descends, you begin to notice yourself. You start to pick up on your body. You become aware of your breath, going in and out. You can feel again. All of this heightens the sense of groundedness, purposefulness, mindfulness, and belonging. All of these are Root Chakra issues.

10—Hug
hugging

This exercise likely could be included for all the Chakras.

I’ve blatantly stolen this concept from David Schnarch, author of “Pasionate Marriage.”

The book is really about relating from a stable, secure, open, honest, and vulnerable relationship. He suggests, as an exercise, “Hugging until Relaxed.” Rather than fish out the book and find the description I did a Google search and came up with an article Schnarch has posted to the web.

“I suggested they try something called “hugging till relaxed,” a powerful method for increasing intimacy that harnesses the language and dynamics of sex without requiring either nudity or sexual contact. Hugging, one of the most ordinary, least threatening gestures of affection and closeness, is also one of the most telling. When they hugged, Betty complained that Donald always leaned on her–making her stagger backward–while Donald accused Betty of pulling away from him, letting go “too soon,” and leaving him “hugging air.”

I suggested that Betty and Donald each stand firmly on their own two feet, loosely put their arms around each other, focus on their own individual experience and concentrate on quieting themselves down while in the embrace–neither clutching nor pulling away from or leaning on each other. I never tell clients how long to hug, but few initially can take more than four or five seconds before they experience a kind of emotional “jolt” when the connection threatens to become too intimate for comfort. Once both partners can learn to soothe themselves and maintain their individual equilibrium, shifting their own positions when necessary for comfort, they get a brief, physical experience of intimate connection without fusion, a sense of stability and security without over‐dependency.”

Give this a try.

Next week, we’ll move to Chakra two!


Make Contact!

So, how does this week’s article sit with you? What questions do you have? Leave a comment or question!


About the Author: Wayne C. Allen is the web’s Simple Zen Guy. Wayne was a Private Practice Counsellor in Ontario until June of 2013. Wayne is the author of five books, the latest being The. Best. Relationship. Ever. See: –The Phoenix Centre Press
Centering
Lost in Thought

2 thoughts on “Grounding Your Self”

  1. Wayne, I am really enjoying this series of articles. Just reading through them I find myself “calming down”, “slowing down” whatever one would like to call it, just to process the information and give conscious thought to the content. If you think you are not helping anyone by publishing this and sending out your emails perish the thought. They really do help.
    Regards,
    Jim Stewart

    • Hi Jim!
      Nice hearing from you. Glad you’re liking the series. I’m using it too! I’ve been a bit restless sitting the last couple of times, and finding it interesting that NOT giving up and getting up tends to happen 1 minute or so before the end (I can’t see a clock…) There’s something to be said for “sitting with” all that internal drama, watching it, and letting go.
      Do check out the Saturday workshop, and join us if interested!
      Warmly, Wayne

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