By Ifetayo White
One of the most common concerns that I hear from so many people is the problem of the runaway mind. At times, our mind seems to have lives and agendas of its own — persistent thoughts throughout the day and unstoppable ruminations during the night. This behavior is widespread, not only in adults, but in children as well.
It is not a common practice in our society to empower people with a knowledge of grounding. In many indigenous cultures, some form of grounding is taught and practiced by children as young as 2 years of age. For some who are in cultures where humans and the natural world live in closer proximity, it could make the difference between life and death. To be able to sit still, be quiet, and remain calm is a requirement.
Humankind is blessed with minds that have enormous capacities for learning so many useful skills and information. Our minds are capable of creating with an almost unlimited field of imagination. Minds are able to translate feelings into words to be expressed in our relationships and in communication with the world’s citizens. But as so many wise teachers have shared, our minds are to be our servants and not our masters.
So much of education in our society is the training and expanding of the minds of children and adults to be more and more masters of everything except themselves. Many individuals and organizations are realizing the necessity of teaching practices that encourage us to reverse our victimization to the “runaway mind” and the stress of not being able to focus or to be still. There are now more schools and workplaces encouraging students and employees to have times of quiet and/or more time outside in a natural environment. Some of these institutions are even offering instruction in relaxation practices.
The practice of meditation has been foremost in my life since 1982 and grounding meditation is the foundation of all my other self-care practices. Groundedness is a way of being, not just an occasional event. Practicing the meditation becomes the wellspring from which the moment-by-moment capacity to live with a mind that is not overwhelming or out of control. Grounding is simply returning the mind to the breath, returning the mind to the body, returning the mind to the earth.
When the mind can be engaged in a practice of returning, it will learn to settle down. Think of how a puppy is taught to keep returning to “sit” or “heel,” it’s the repetition of the command that eventually results in a well-behaved pet. The same with our minds! We keep bringing our minds back to connection with our breath, with our bodies, and with the earth. We just keep returning to the places of groundedness for our minds.
During any times of concentration or meditation, our minds will wander. We will have all sorts of thoughts and feelings come up. In grounding meditation, we invite the mind to come back to the focus by breathing from the earth, up and through our feet, up and through our bodies into our minds. We let the mind settle down within our bodies, following the exhale breath as it descends through our bodies passing through our feet, back to the earth. This practice is so simple and so non-threatening to our powerful minds.
As with all practices of meditation and neurological reprogramming, it becomes easier to call forward the practice during the moments of our days and nights, in routine activities and during nighttime rest. It is such an empowerment for children and adults alike to be able to manage thoughts, feelings and behavior when needed.
The gift of grounding is the gift of being the master of our mind and not its victim, of being able to focus and create, to stay calm, to be quiet and to be at peace.