"Do not feel lonely. The entire universe is inside of you.” ~ Rumi
A Simple Practice to Feel Grounded and Supported
I gaze out my window at a white sky tinged with grey. It's early May. The trees in the yard blush pale yellow-green, hinting at the bright verdancy of the summer to come. Birds sing and flit, squirrels scurry and fill their cheeks while keeping a wary eye out for the neighbourhood fox couple who've taken up residence in someone's backyard to raise their kits. Nature goes about its business.
The chaos and upheaval of the past year are not noticeable as I watch the comings and goings of little creatures in my yard. Yet this year has been a challenge for so many of us - individually, and collectively, within our families, neighbourhoods, wider communities, countries, and the world.
Healing both individually and collectively feels like an imperative now. Healing our own pain, transforming as we grieve lost and sick loved ones; healing the chasm between left and right on the political spectrum; healing for the myriad creatures who are suffering under unfavourable human auspices; healing for our beloved and precious Earth.
It's a lot. Underneath the trauma and devastation lie untold fear, anxiety and grief. And so it makes sense to me in these uncertain times to find practices that encourage the sense of feeling grounded and safe. Below is a simple practice that may help. If you're tired, you may find it energizing. If you're feeling scattered or anxious, it may bring some comfort and peace.
1. Sit or lie comfortably with spine tall. Close your eyes or lower your gaze.
2. Feel whatever part of your body is making contact with support beneath you. If you're lying down, notice your feet, legs, buttocks, back, arms and head. If you're sitting, notice your feet, sitz bones, and back against the chair.
In this part of the practice, you're not trying to achieve anything. Follow the breath and movement with a relaxed awareness.
3. Place your hands on your belly. Breathe in. Notice any movement under your hands. Breathe out. Take 5-10 breaths, just following any movement in your belly.
4. Move your hands to your lower ribcage. Breathe in. Notice any movement under your hands. Breathe out. Take 5-10 breaths, just following any movement in your ribcage.
5. Move your hands to your upper chest. Breathe in. Notice any movement under your hands. Breathe out. Take 5-10 breaths, just following any movement in your upper chest.
DEEPENING THE BREATH
In this part of the practice, remember not to force the breath. If you feel lightheaded or dizzy, simply return to a normal breath until you feel comfortable again.
6. When you feel ready, take a fuller breath in, as far down as you can bring it comfortably. Don't force the breath, just invite it in a little deeper. Invite the belly to expand more. See if you can coax a little more air into the ribcage. Imagine the lower ribcage as an umbrella, opening front, sides and back of the ribcage evenly. At the end of the inbreath, ask the collarbones in the upper chest to lift a little more.
7. Slowly exhale all the air out, either through the nose, or by pursing your lips slightly and blowing out as if you were blowing through a straw.
8. You can imagine your whole torso as a balloon, filling the balloon as you breathe evenly from bottom to top. On the exhale, the balloon slowly deflates.
9. Another way to visualize the breath: imagine it coming in on an elevator, descending all the way to the pelvic floor (area between sitz bones, pubic bone and tailbone). On the exhale the elevator rides back up from the pelvic floor through the crown of the head.
10. Relax and notice how you feel.
Together, let's find practices to heal ourselves and our world.
Donna offers a holistic perspective on the relationship and healing of physical and emotional pain.