“Feel your feet firmly on the ground as you lift through the heart….”
Beautiful words, but sometimes hard to achieve.. how can we ground ourselves?
Since June 2014 my students and community and I have been on an Ayurvedic diet, to reduce Vata, bringing the air element in my body down and eliminating more effectively. Every Ayurvedic Doctor (including Vasant Lad and Robert Svoboda) that I have come across, always starts by saying we need to cleanse the GI tract. We need to let go, digest and release the old shit! When we don’t, imbalances occur, these are expressed as anxiety, depression and other mental pathologies as well as of course, physical pathologies.
Yoga is always clear in its understanding that mind and body are one and so when we treat our digestive tract, there will be some effect on the mind. I have noticed, as my students and I have undergone dietary changes (less sugar,, no coffee, alcohol, meat, fish) and more according to our specific constitution, age and time of year, that we have all become less edgy, less anxious and more content.
This is not only a wonderful homage to Ayurveda, but also an experience of the impact of diet on mental health.
Asana and pranayama also play their part. Grounding ourselves, mean finding calm, getting past our upsets and emotions to a place of stability. In asana, we are digesting trauma and emotional upset every time we move our body. I found this idea hard to grasp until I experienced it. That was at a time when I frequently experienced a heaviness in my body after an upsetting quarrel, where I would lie in savasana and sob and make some small movements, then I would do gentle asana and I would unwind myself from the trauma until my body felt light and free again. (for more on this subject, pls read Swami Rama’s Yoga and Psychotherapy)
I have read a hundred essays by TeenYoga students now of how they suffered abuse or trauma in childhood and how talking therapy took them to a place of understanding and maybe a resolution but that it was the yoga that released them and took them on to another life of freedom and light.
Our mind is constantly changing, from one emotion to another -anxious, calm, excited, to depressed, lonely. Our body is not. Our body is changing to some degree, but it is a solid experience. When we bring our breath and our awareness back to our body through eating, through asana, through breathing, we are grounding ourselves. When we ground ourselves, we are reconnecting to our inner truth, The sometimes inconvenient truth of who we really are, then we can change and transform and meet with challenges with sanguine clarity of mind.
So, asana and pranayama and a good Ayurvedic diet are important. Here, if you are interested, I would like to share my top tips for grounding yourself. I will talk about some of them in future posts (though I may keep number 5 to myself!):
- Abhyanga (self massage with copious amounts of oil)
- Hot milk before bed
- Physical exercise
- Sex (!)
- Lying on the ground
- Walking barefoot
- Eating barley and root vegetables
- Breathing slowly and deeply
- Holding postures for longer
- Breathing before replying
- Baking or cooking
- Being, slowly in nature
I believe these simple practises can help our mental health and may even help us avoid panic attacks, anxiety and depression. Grounding seems to constitute an important stepping stone towards positive mental health.