By: +David Herron; Date: Fri Mar 30 2018 19:01:00 GMT-0700 (PDT)
One of the most basic of spiritual skills to learn is the art of grounding. Not all lineages teach this art, for many reasons, however in my view it is essential for all spiritual practice to be grounded.
Exercise to become grounded
- Find a quiet place where you can practice without distraction.
- Be comfortable and aware of the moment.
- Be standing, feet about shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent. The technical term for how to have your knees is "soft knees", and the purpose is to not lock your knees. Keep your feet as parallel as you can.
- Imagine yourself connecting down into the ground. For example you might grow roots from your feet or the bottom of a spine, just like a tree. Just sink into the ground without also leaving your body.
- As you're connecting into the ground, be aware of your own body, how the muscles feel, what it feels like to have your body, the breath going in and out. Are your muscles tight or in pain, or are they loose? Is there any new pains that come to your awareness?
Stay in this mode for awhile and experience it. If you prefer to sit, then do so with your feet flat on the floor or ground, not crossed, your back upright and straight and maybe not using the chair back-rest to support your back.
One way to grok grounding is to visit with the trees. Find a tree, preferably one with a deep root system, and sense into how the tree is. You might ceremonially ask the tree to show you how to be grounded. Another is playing drums, most especially ones with a deep resonating tone. The deep tone helps one be grounded and may be why drum playing is part of so many types of spiritual ceremony.
Okay, so what was that all about?
As we will see in later exercises, grounding is the first step to many of them. But, why?
- To be grounded is to practical and realistic.
- Being grounded brings more energy, and more of your self, into the present moment, whatever that present moment might be.
- Any time life throws you a curve ball, being grounded helps you to quickly adjust to whatever that new situation might be.
The stereotypical new-agey person, with their thoughts floating among the angels, is generally very ungrounded. As I said, many spiritual lineages do not teach grounding, and may even encourage their students to be ungrounded. For example it is often seen to be a good thing for a meditator to leave their body, and it is expected that a meditator will spend some time reconnecting with their body after meditation. I have heard some spiritual teachers preach that the body is evil, that this world is a version of hell, and that the purpose of spiritual life is to escape this prison by leaving their body.
The teachers I have learned from began every practice by grounding, and taught grounding and being present in the "now" as a fundamental part of the teachings. I have found this to be very valuable to my growth, and has helped me in so many ways.
It is quite possible to be grounded while performing any spiritual practice, and it is my experience that spiritual practices (and all of life) is immensly richer when grounded.
Effects of ungroundedness
Let's try another experiment to help you understand this a little more clearly. For this exercise you will need a partner. First, with your partner practice the grounding exercise, and be sure both of you understand grounding as well as you can.
- You and your partner should be facing one another.
- Your partner gives you a gentle push on your shoulders.
- Un-ground (this is the opposite of the grounding exercise, rather than to imagine connecting into the ground, imagine disconnecting and floating freely).
- Again, have your partner give you a gentle push on your shoulders.
What happened in steps (3) and (5)? Was there any difference?
Often what happens is that when ungrounded you are more likely to fall over than when grounded. This is just like the trees, the ones with strong roots can survive even the strongest winds without being blown over.
You might findd it interesting to pay attention to people and how they are. What differences do you see and experience between the "airhead" type and an "earthy" type of person? Who feels more alive? How can you compare what you experienced in the grounding and un-grounding exercise with what you observe about other people?
Try practicing being grounded or un-grounded while eating food, while riding a bicycle, or any other activity. Do you experience the activity any differently? Does the food taste any different? Do you have more enjoyment when grounded or un-grounded?