What do you do when the ground you stand on has been swept away from you? There is a diagnosis….a relationship is breaking apart….a child on the way…..your job has disappeared?
According to Pema Chodron, the moment when the ground has disappeared under our feet is opportunity. This is when we can notice ourselves scrambling, struggling for a foothold, for anything that feels a little secure when we feel like everything we have counted on is crumbling. We can make a decision to just sit with the experience, to just notice what is happening and how we are responding.
If we can actually FEEL the ground, literally ground ourselves in our body sensations, we can often take the moment to stop clutching, stop scrambling, and just breathe. It makes sense to me that we want to feel the ground. We are not tree dwellers, nor descended from tree dwellers. We are not birds, equipped with wings. We are creatures of the earth, whose feet depend on the earth for support. When we cannot feel our feet, we cannot feel our support and connection. The loss of support and connection can be profoundly disorienting.
What to do? Check in with your feet. Are they touching the ground right now? Stand up, and check again. If your feet are tense, then you will not notice as much contact with the ground. If you habitually wear shoes that distort your feet, it may be harder to feel that connection, so slip off your shoes. Now let the weight slide over onto one foot. Use the other toe to balance, but just let all of your weight down onto one foot. Soften your knee, even bend it a little, and see if you can drop your shoulders, soften your belly, and let the weight down on that one foot. Move your toes a little, so that you can be sure they are taking some of that weight. Stay there, pushing that foot into the floor and letting your weight down, until you start to feel a bit tired. Now hold it, tired, feel how tired your leg is getting, and then, only then, gently allow the weight onto BOTH feet.
STOP! Don’t do anything yet…just notice…notice both feet. How do you experience them? Do they feel different from one another? Once you have explored this, then allow the weight to slide to the other foot and repeat the experience. Work until you are feeling tired, and then wait, going into that tiredness a bit before resting on your two feet. Then notice the absolute LUXURY of having two feet, and having two feet on the ground. And notice anything else that is different in your body, or different in your mind. Do you feel more connected to the ground? Do you feel more relaxed in your shoulders, or softer in your belly, or more peaceful in your mind?