It is the man throwing away his shoes
as if to enter heaven
and finding himself astonished,
opened at last,
fallen in love with solid ground.
-David Whyte (excerpt from "The Opening of Eyes")
Grounding and centering are crucial life practices. That in-the-moment-awareness of what is actually going on internally and externally is so basic, but doesn't always come easy. So often folks are off somewhere in their heads, for any number of reasons. I can spot it so easily. "Where did you go," I'll ask when I sense someone has gone missing...and they always know what I'm talking about.
It's an attention thing as well as a body thing, and it is a skill that can be learned. I'm going to give you several fun, simple, and effective emergency measures to help you come back to earth and to your body when you've spun off. There are few things more lovely than that moment of shift when you "come back." It's a flood of awake good feelings, even when the moment is a tough one.
We'll start with the most fanciful one first. Enjoy!
1. Stand with your feet about hipwidth apart. Soft knees. As you're standing there, imagine that your tailbone has morphed into Brontosaurus style dinosaur tail. Feel it's length and weight behind you. Walk around a little, feeling it swish behind you.
2. With your Bontosaurus tail intact, stand and press the outside edge of the soles of your feet into the ground firmly. As you do so, carefully attend to the impact on your whole body. Hold the tension for a minute or so, then very slowly release. Notice the reverb. Now do the same process pressing the inner edges of the feet into the earth. Notice the difference in your feeling of being here now.
3. Press your hands firmly onto a blank wall or closed door with your knees soft, your hips relaxed and tucked a little, and your elbows bent so your forearms are perpendicular with the wall. Press your palms into the surface till you find the position in which you feel a line of energy and pressure moving from your arms into your spine, and down through your legs to your feet. Hold this position for a minute or so, then release. Notice how firmly planted into the ground you are afterwards.
4. As you stand, imagine that your feet have suction cups with deep roots going down into the center of the earth. Breathe in and out of these roots. Place your hands on your lower belly, and sway very subtlely first from side to side then front and back. Notice the shifting sensations, holdings, and ebbs and flows of tension. Enjoy the settling in that this practice gifts you with.