“Find your place on the planet, dig in, and take responsibility from there.” Gary Snyder
Today I woke up unhappy, I’ve been feeling confused about my place in the world, my skills, discouraged about how I’m spending my days. I have the fortune and privilege of living on a lovely piece of property and this morning I just stopped in the driveway on my way to open the chicken house and looked at the trees. Interrupting my negative mental talk, I imagined my limbs being their limbs, my breath coming and going, exchanging my co2 for their oxygen. I also focused on feeling the pull of gravity on the weight of my body which contrary to what you would think, it makes me feel buoyed up rather than weighted down. Five minutes? Maybe only three.
There are many people I know who are reeling from the current political climate and looking at how they can make an impact based in the values of inclusion, economic equality and environmental sustainability. In a culture that promotes instant and ever changing attention, information and sensation it is important maybe even essential for us to stop, and connect deeply with ourselves and all of life.
Nature is our sustenance and our guide, but it takes some stopping and noticing and connecting to receive that sustenance. Part making these connections is an active acknowledgement that our relationship with the environment directly affects our relationships with each other and with ourselves. This is physical, psychological, physiological, and spiritual. Every aspect of interrelationship and every nuance, in different aspects and times and conditions. Acknowledge it or not we are an integral part of nature; so how do we feel that? How do we increase our communication within ourselves and nature? There are many approaches and here are just two simple experiences to try.
Bonding with Gravity adapted from Andrea Olsen
Lie on your back in a comfortable positon, preferably eyes closed and ideally on the ground outside but you can do it anywhere. Let your weight be supported by the Earth. Notice any parts that seems to be “hovering” or holding back. Imagine them softening and melting into gravity. Lift your head only an inch off the ground feel it’s weight and relax it back to the earth. Do the same with a leg, an arm, your pelvis. Take your time, feel the weight notice what it is like to be supported, held up without any agenda or task to do.
When you are feeling your weight fully resting on the earth. Slowly begin to pour the contents of your body toward one side and let yourself roll toward that surface, shifting the weight and contents in relationship to gravity. You are not picking up and placing yourself in a new relationship but letting the pull of gravity shift the contents of your body container. Continue to roll slowly until you find yourself on your belly surface. Notice how different the pull of gravity feels on your front surface. Breathe here for a few moments. Now continue to roll pouring as you go onto the other side and return to your back surface. Notice again the experience of releasing into gravity being held by the earth.
To transition to standing move slowly, notice how gravity pulls on the fluid contents of your body with each shift in position. Take your time, and when you are finally standing notice how your weight travels down through your bones to meet the earth. What is it like to move with this much awareness of the pull of gravity?
Our ability to bond with gravity underlies all our movement. Before any action if we connect to gravity and release into it we gain the power to fully push, engaging all of our weight and power.
Feel your boundaries, push through your limbs
Come on to your hands and knees. Take a few moments to mobilize your spine, moving in any way that feels good and then feel your stability through a long spine and an alive engaged core. Check that your shoulders are wide and your chest is supported through your arms as you continue to relate to gravity and the space around you from your hands and knees.
Shift your weight more onto your hands and then slowly shift back so weight is more in your knees and feet. Explore this shift and what it feels like, notice everything you can about the difference, hands to legs. Curl your toes underneath so they are in contact with the floor. Shift some more feeling the shift all the way into the toes.
Experience pushing your hands off the floor and then reconnecting them onto the floor. Notice how engaging your core, feeling the lift and tightening from pubic bone to navel gives you more solidity and power. If you have the strength expand the push till you come back onto your feet in a squat. Can you push through your feet to return to hands and knees? If you have the leg strength you can push through your legs to a full stand from a squat, what is that like? Can you maintain the connection of your limbs into the earth and the pull of gravity? Use gravity as a force to push against and notice that relationship.
Notice how this experience feels emotionally. Notice that you are pushing to and from your edges and getting sensory feedback of where your body boundaries are. Feel your power and ability to set firm limits and feel the definition of yourself in space.
Think about an issue you are pushing against or fighting for. Engage your imagination with this issue as you physically explore the push of your arms and legs. Notice if this exploration give you more motivation or makes the task seem more doable. Notice if there is a place the process you feel overwhelm. If so that is a place to explore more slowly to experience even a small sensation of mastery. Also notice if this is emotional overwhelm and if there are memories attached to the feeling. Don’t go beyond your strength, going beyond our resources our ability to connect with ourselves with the earth, with each other leads to burn out and injury. Feel your edges, your weight in order to engage your strength to it’s limits, not beyond. If you have time write a little about your experience, especially if you found it emotionally stimulating.
Look around you where you are right now. Can you see any trees? Living plants? Animals? Other people? Just notice your shared life with them through shared space and the exchange of air. What happens in you when you stop to notice the interrelationships of life?