The title comes from my favourite artist of the moment, Sheila Chandra (thanks Deepz for the tip!). And the story begins with a beautiful Yoga & Ayurveda retreat in Suffolk: offering sound treatments all weekend, I reminded these amazing women of the importance of grounding. And yet as I packed up to leave a mysterious incident occurred with my ipad: did I reverse over it, failing to notice my bag strewn by the yoga studio? Or did I drop one of the not-so-light instruments I work with on my bag as I worked out the jigsaw of packing the car? Either way it lay shattered and slightly bent in the bottom of my bag.
If you're feeling ungrounded right now, you're probably not alone! At this time of year those of us with vata (air/ space element - read about the Ayurvedic doshas here) predominance may feel ungrounded, scattered, dry, anxious. Even if vata is not your mind-body type, the autumn-winter season encourages its qualities in all of us. Vata when rooted can be hugely creative, connected, expansive, so we have an opportunity now to capitalise on its light footed energy.
Roots & wings
Grounding can mean the very physical sense of being in the body, through our various connections to the earth. But its can also mean being steady in our highest truth. And from there finding expansion without fear or fatigue.
As I began my yoga and sound journey I was always interested in the biggest, most dramatic experiences; the word grounding to me was dull and inferior. I wanted to be flying in the ethers, not rooted to the earth. This was an echo of my previous 'life', always working to the extreme, seeking the highs of various kinds. Now these were the 'spiritual' ones!
As I came to appreciate, grounding does not mean detaching from spirit, but integrating spirit and matter. The body becomes a container for an understanding of who we are. Life becomes a journey towards dharma and purpose; which is kind of hard to follow when you are revelling in the highs.
Being grounded brings a clarity to our lives and decisions, an embodied understanding of what we need day to day and moment to moment. Because actually when we are ungrounded we are often lost in our heads, rather than the heavens. And it leaves us unprepared to deal with the emotional lows and challenges of everyday life.
But how to ground?
We may wish to never come back from the sound journey or the shavasana, but for most of us that's not an option; while we choose to be in the world, we need to weave the learnings of coming home to ourselves into going home; to families, jobs, city life etc. To honour the ebb and flow of time out for healing with creating from the wholeness we find.
During the weekend the retreat host, my yoga sister Louise, offered an interesting follow up to 54 rounds of the Maha Mritunjaya mantra: eyes shining we breathed deeply into chair pose and sunk down into a squat. What! I thought, buzzing from my favourite shiva chant. What, in fact, an inspired move! We came back into our bodies, we smiled, we shared...we drove safely home.
A barefoot wander on the grass, eating earthy foods and receiving a loving hug are equally sweet. Meditation may not sound the most obvious way to ground, especially if we are a vata type who tends to space out, but when we are truly meditating we are nothing but present, moving closer to the ground of our Self, rather than the tangle of thoughts which can leave us feeling scattered and separate.
As 'holders' of space - teachers, practitioners - it is our responsibility to offer tools for integration as well as expansion (and of course to ground ourselves!). Our roots can help us open our wings, our wings can help us rest more lightly and consciously on the earth. And life is full of little reminders to keep that balance.
Love, Ali x