Collapsing under the Weight of it All
Dear Friends, I think you would have laughed if you saw me this evening, lying on the family room floor with a tree trunk across my body. Ok, it was actually a coffee table made out of a tree trunk. But this wasn't a help-I've-fallen-and-I-can't-get-up accident. I consciously laid down and lowered the tree trunk table onto my own trunk. And I found it oddly comforting.
If you are still reading, then you are curious enough to wonder why I was doing this, and I will explain. Lately, I have been feeling ungrounded. The time I spend looking at screens and typing quick responses is ever increasing, and no matter how many calls and emails I return, there are always even more in my inbox. I am guessing you may have felt this way at times.
I travel by plane several times a month, my work day moves about between home, office, and other meeting places, and I rarely spend more than an hour or two at a time in one location. There is very little routine to my daily life, and minimal hands-on activities like cooking, gardening, or creating art. When I go at this pace for too long, I start to feel adrift.
In yoga class, we often put a 5 pound sandbag on our bellies to help ground us during savasana relaxation. This helps us settle more fully into our bodies, the earth, and the present moment. In this case I needed a 50+ pound tree trunk to help ground me and pin me to the earth! Yes, it was difficult to breathe with the table resting on my chest and belly, but it allowed me to really let go. That much weight could counter balance the enormous pull of email, text, phone, and never ending stream of work. Although I knew that I could get up if I wanted to, my body felt like it was secured to the earth in a way that I couldn't easily resist. Ahh.
You may not need as much grounding as I did today. But simple grounding techniques can help us balance ourselves when we get swept away by the rapid pace of our lives. Thich Nhat Hanh recommends walking meditation as an effective way to come back to our bodies and feel the full weight of ourselves walking on earth.
The earth is sacred and we touch her with each step. We should be very respectful, because we are walking on our mother. If we walk like that, then every step will be grounding, every step will be nourishing. - Thich Nhat Hanh
A sandbag or even a pillow on our bellies or feet can be grounding and relaxing before bedtime. Lying down outside under a tree, gardening, or curling up with an animal (preferably a tame one) are also good ways to ground and reconnect. Doing work with our hands and slowing down the pace of our walking and driving can help, as can simply closing our computer, turning off our phones, and sitting still.
And for the really hectic days, you can always grab the nearest piece of furniture.