Last Monday, the weather turned beautiful. I bought some fresh potting soil and spent several hours repotting herbs. Such a calming thing to do! I basked in the feeling of the soil in my hands, the scent of the herbs, and the warmth of the sun. My plants received new soil and my restless spirit came back down to earth.
Balancing oneself this way is referred to as ‘grounding’. My clients often say they don’t understand how to do this. As if it is some mysterious process that only comes after hard practice. Not at all; it’s really quite simple. Every time you pay more attention to what your hands and feet are doing than to what is going on in your head, you are grounding. For instance: a walk in nature, gardening, or doing chores around the house. You let go of stressful thoughts and feelings and relax your mind.
In Chinese philosophy and health care, the principle of yin and yang plays a central role. Yang energy moves outward and upward. The warmth of the sun is associated with yang. Yin energy moves inward and downward. For instance, the cool earthy soil under our feet. A tree shows both these principles: its roots grow down into the earth and its crown opens up to the warm sun.
There is an easy Tai Chi exercise called Standing Like a Tree. Stand with your feet at shoulder width. Your posture is straight but relaxed. Feel your feet on the ground and imagine them, like tree-roots, growing down into the earth. Imagine the crown of your head opening up to the sun like the crown of a tree. Your body is like the tree-trunk with its branches, solid and at the same time flexible. Thoughts and events come and go but the tree, that is you, remains standing.
You don’t need to do this exercise for long, just a minute is sometimes enough to calm your mind.
This is a very good way to ground yourself. However, don’t forget that simple, practical activities are just as effective. What do you do to come back down to earth?