Many of you will have heard that a major earthquake hit New Zealand yesterday. My fellow New Zealander, Leonie Wise, will write more about the quake and what you can do to help later this week. For today I want to share a little about what I’ve learned about finding my solid ground, even when the earth beneath us proves to be unpredictable.
This week, indeed this past year, in New Zealand we’ve found ourselves wondering whether we can really trust the ground beneath our feet. You may not have lived on a fault line, or felt the foundations of your home and your city move underneath you, but as travellers we’ve almost certainly all found ourselves feeling ‘ungrounded’.
If you just read the word ‘ungrounded’ and thought to yourself “Oh jeez, why all this vague yoga language? What exactly does it mean to be ‘ungrounded’, presuming you haven’t actually defied the laws of gravity and floated up off the earth?” then:
a) I’m with you, babe. Honestly. Even though I’m a yoga teacher who falls into the trap of airy-fairy talk sometimes, I have a pretty well-tuned BS meter and I love people who call it when I slide in that direction; and
b) It turns out that we actually can lose contact with the ground, even without defying gravity.
I have a friend who didn’t realise, until she had been practicing yoga for a while, that she had made it through the first 35 years of her life without ever actually really feeling her feet on the ground. She might be an extreme example, but when was the last time you took off your shoes, stood on grass, soil or sand and really felt your ‘soft animal body’ release it’s weight into the support of the earth?
We travel in metal tubes that shoot through the sky at inhuman speeds. We live in landscapes of concrete and asphalt. Is it really surprising that we lose contact with the earth? We move at the speed of computer programmes and rest only when our bodies refuse to carry on any longer. Is it any wonder that we lose our sense of solid ground.
Here are some of the ways I find my own solid ground when the pace of life has outstripped my body’s ability to keep track or when the solid ground beneath me suddenly feels less solid:
- Lying down on the earth, or on the floor – preferably on my belly.
- Massaging my own feet.
- Standing on those same feet, taking the time to feel the weight of my feet release into the earth.
- Squatting, especially against a wall.
- Yoga nidra.
What helps you find the solid ground within you when the world around you, or even the earth beneath you, is shifting?