Coming Back to Ground
What does it mean to be Grounded?
The traditional definition of someone being grounded is that they are well-balanced and sensible. The implication is that they remain level-headed despite a context or circumstances which could carry them away, such as great wealth or success which may go to their head;, or that they don’t flap in a crisis. They keep a sense of proportion, remain in touch with reality and with themselves and see things in perspective. Grounded people ‘keep their feet on the ground’ and so are down to earth.
In more spiritual terms or in self-development language the meaning of being grounded has slightly different implications. It’s not about being sensible or pragmatic, but it does keep the notion of balance, predominantly through focusing on the concept of being rooted. It’s not about having to be earthy, it’s about knowing when to come back down, when we need to land and where that place is; it’s about not losing the connection.
In practices such as meditation and yoga it’s both a basic concept and a physical position that we know ourselves as connected to both the earth and to the sky; the more spiritual and ethereal aspect of the human condition; the imagination and the unknown; forces of the Universe. Putting both feet physically on the ground gives us something steady, simple and reliable. The fundamental act of placing our feet on the ground in a measured and even way and feeling them there keeps us aware of our body, of ‘bringing us back’ to the reassuringly solid ground beneath us. Reminding us we are a weighted, sensory body, not the maelstrom of thoughts and emotions in our head or the dynamics of demands around us. Bringing attention to the breath also reminds us of the natural essence of our being. This conscious awareness and placement slows us down and reminds us of the simplicity of coming back; how the ground below and the rhythm of breathing can support and steady us; it’s safe and constant. We always have a relationship with the ground, in the same way that just putting one foot in front of the other – the act of walking, or small steps – takes us back to the simplest of ways to move forward. We can feel and focus on our breath, our body, on the ground.
Feeling grounded is to be with ourselves despite the challenge of life ‘outside’, the mental and emotional, the relationships, the responsibilities; the demands of everyday life. It is an understanding, a tolerance, an awareness, of knowing who we are. Being present with how we are in the moment and being in the moment. This dual capacity of being here and being there is a relationship of trust with our self. This sense of connection is integral to our strength and flexibility, our capacity to give and receive, to know where our boundaries are. Our sense of being who we are is what we have at our core. Pema Chodron describes “the ground is to develop loving kindness to ourselves”; nurturing confidence in our own wisdom, health, courage and good heartedness, accepting who we are completely and respecting ourselves.
To be grounded is not just to feel both feet on the ground but to visualise yourself as being rooted. The concept of being rooted offers both stability and belonging. This is a not just about balance and stability but an anchoring in resource and trust. Earth holds within it the process of life; like ourselves. We belong to that process of life. To feel rooted is to know we belong to something, to be part of something else, more than the individual I of our personal experience. Our experience, our susceptibility, our being humanness, is shared. We are connected to others and the greater Universe.
To ground ourselves, means coming back to body, the physical, somatic reality of felt contact; landing in a place. It means holding a relationship with the self; home. It means maintaining trust in the wisdom of those sites and the third; being connected with something bigger than the self; belonging to other, natural universal principles. Connection is both within and without. Strength is the capacity to stay with and move away. Trust is to know centre and be with other. It is essentially the art of being and staying with who we are.