January 25, 2021

How to Stay Grounded on Shifting Sands. {Bonus Mantra}

“There are times we have to step into the darkness in faith, confident that God will place solid ground beneath our feet once we do.” ~ Dieter F. Uchtdorf


Here we are, having survived 2020 (some of us), feeling like we can no longer trust the very ground beneath our feet.

We have been faced with a collective trauma—this pandemic—like a low-grade fever we carry around, trying to still do our work and show up for our families and ourselves.

But some days, we don’t succeed. Some days, the shifting sands threaten to swallow us up, and we cannot find solid ground.

I’ve thought about this so much lately as friends and family (and I) have navigated so much loss—some large, some small, over the past year. I’m sure most of us feel we have been challenged this year in ways we never thought we’d face in our lifetime. Sara Bareilles put out a song last year called “Orpheus,” that seemed to be prescient to this year. Here are some of the lyrics:

“You miss the world
The one you knew
The one where everything made sense
Because you didn’t know the truth
That’s how it works
Till the bottom drops out
And you learn
We’re all just hunters seeking solid ground”

That last line got me. Yes, that’s exactly what we are—hunters seeking solid ground. Solid ground is what we rely on, what we depend on to let us know we are supported and will be okay. How is your ground feeling today?

In yoga and meditation, grounding is an essential part of the practice. Really planting our feet or bodies firmly on the ground supports us in our practice and transfers into our daily lives.

One yoga teacher I had called on us to “wick up” energy and support from the earth, like the wick in an oil lamp. Pull the energy up and into ourselves. It’s a beautiful image and a reminder that so much is available to us in terms of support, from above and below.

“To ground is to pour your energies back into the Earth and feel the warm calm of nature entering your body in exchange.” ~ Clint Ober

Practice in grounding really serves us when the ground is ripped out from under our feet by life events. When the sands around us are shifting, being able to return to a place within of steadfastness and trust, we can begin to catch our balance, plant ourselves more firmly, and face what is in front of us. No one does this perfectly, few of us remember to ground first, then deal. And that is all okay. Sometimes, the grounding after a crisis is equally important for healing and recovery.

The song “Orpheus” mentions the ground again in a later verse:

“If the bottom drops out, I hope my love was someone else’s solid ground.”

This is also a tremendous thought because yes, hopefully, we have people in our lives whose love is our solid ground. We don’t always have to find it ourselves, and we are often “someone else’s solid ground.” In recent years, and especially this year, I have often been solid ground to others, and I’ve come to know its gifts and its troubles.

My first instinct is always to “be there” for someone I care about who is hurting. Of course, it’s what caring adults do for each other. There is no better feeling than truly being present and holding space for a dear loved one or friend. Even when it’s hard, we know it’s part of the richness that is this life. So we show up; and we care; and we pray; and we support.

But when our first instinct is to “be there” for someone, we can often give too much of ourselves away. The last time I listened to this song, I realized (again) it isn’t always appropriate to be solid ground for someone else, or for too many people at one time.

We can easily spread ourselves too thin and not show up for people with our whole being. The age-old adage that we really do have to take of ourselves first before we can truly take care of others is an important truth. But this year, we are in crisis, and we forget, and that’s okay. We move forward, practicing self-care as often as we can and with a pure and tender love for ourselves—grounding ourselves so we can help from a solid base.

When you need to ground, sit firmly on the ground, or in a chair with your feet firmly planted and your spine straight. Feel the support of the earth, how solid it is, how many eons has been here, and will be here. Tune in to the energy it offers you, the strength it shares with you, the unchanging support it affords you. Say to yourself:

I am grounded.

My spirit is part of the earth and my roots are deep.

The earth supports me.

The earth centers me.

The earth provides for me.

I am safe.

I am held.

I trust the earth to remain steadfast.

I trust the unfolding of the Universe.

May we all find solid ground in the coming year, may we be that solid ground for each other, and may we take good care of ourselves so we can show up when we need to as whole, centered, grounded people.



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