7 essential tips for staying grounded when life gets crazy. By Meg Jackson
What does feeling ‘grounded ’mean to you? Okay, sometimes it can be tricky to know so here’s an easier way to think about it. How do you feel when you know you’re not grounded?
I bet that’s easier to describe because we’ve all been there. It can manifest in different ways, but it’s probably shades and combinations of feeling anxious, confused, questioning, unable to concentrate, unable to focus, like you can’t settle. I don’t know if this word translates, but I’d say ‘discombobulated’.
When it happens, it’ll probably be for a bunch of reasons; a bit like a game of Jenga. Pushing one block out doesn’t make the tower come down – it takes a lot of bricks to get dislodged before it all falls. Sometimes it’s the whole lot; sometimes just enough to give it a really big wobble.
When you’re grounded you feel like you’ve got roots; but not roots that are holding you down. In fact, it’s the opposite. You feel like you’ve got a strong, protected, constant place from which nurtures you so that you can grow, thrive, and experience life as the very best version of you.
These roots, this feeling of being grounded, keeps bringing you back to a place of connection to something bigger than yourself. You may even feel like you’ve tapped straight in to whatever is not only at the core of you, but also at the core of everything else.
(And if you’re already rolling your eyes at me getting all beardie-weirdie, just hang on .You don’t need to be spiritual to feel grounded. The thing that’s bigger than you could be called God. Or Buddha. Or Clive. Or it could be nature. Or the feeling you get when you see an amazing sunset or hold a new baby. Let’s not get trapped by definitions or details.)
With good, strong roots you can soak up everything in life that is good for you. These roots keep you present. They keep you in the moment. When life gets rough, and the winds begin to blow, they let you respond and react, without getting knocked horizontal.
So what can we do to get grounded when real life starts getting wild? I’ve got some suggestions.
1 Get outside
I know it can be a bit of a cliché, and I don’t want you to think that I’m saying you have to start hugging trees and communing with squirrels (although I am kinda ’saying that) but there is something inherently healing about getting outside. Find something immovable; the biggest tree, the highest hill, the deepest cave, the tallest rock, the oldest building, and pause a while. I find that being close to something that’s the opposite to how I’m feeling in that moment works a treat. I don’t know if it’s osmosis or me being a bit weird, but I’m happy either way.
2 Get inside
What can I say? I’m full of contradictions. If I’m feeling a bit wobbly, I want to be where I feel safe, warm, and where my onesie and I can be together. For me, that’s home. I want to get cosy. I may do a lovely, slow, nurturing yoga practice (following an online class so I don’t have to think about it), then after a nice warm shower, pull on my fleecy attire, and get comfortable. Sometimes that’s with wine and Netflix, sometimes it’s with a good book and an early night. Know what works for you and do it unapologetically.
3 Get on your mat
Different poses feel different for different people, so I’m not going to give you a bunch of asana and tell you how you should feel after doing them. There is always value in getting on your mat and taking yourself away from whatever is making you wobble.
Breathe and move and know that your practice can always be the constant thing in your life, regardless of what else is going on. Put awareness into the bits of you that are in contact with your mat in every pose; know that the earth is underneath you, supporting you and giving you the foundations you need to be stable and strong.
4 Get in the moment
Again, there are many different ways you can translate this. The yoga teacher in me would suggest being still, cultivating a mindfulness practice or getting into meditation. And they’re great suggestions. But you can also be in the moment by putting on your favourite know-all-the-words music, turning it up loud and dancing your asana off. Same goes for spending time with young kids (you can’t fail to be in the moment when you’re being asked to be a robot / a dinosaur / why the sky is blue / where spiders go to sleep / why dogs have tails etc.) and animals.
5 Get wordy
This won’t be a shock, but I’m a big fan of words. They have power. Whether you believe in the power of mantras or not, you know that hearing “I love you” or “I hate you” or “Wow – those new leggings make your legs look amazing” can make you feel different things. Embrace that power. Find your own phrases which make you feel exactly what you need in those moments when nothing feels certain. I found a way to combine my love of jewellery with predisposition to feeling like I’ve lost my way, so have my mantras written on bracelets. Do what works for you.
6 Get breathing
Not breathing rarely ends well. But as soon as you become aware of your breath you’re in this moment; you can’t breathe in the future, or in the past, only here and now. Getting present is one of the best, and easiest ways, to press ‘pause ’on whatever is sending you into a bit of a tailspin right now. Keep it slow, balanced and as deep as you can. You might try ‘box breath’; breathe in for a count of five (or whatever is comfortable for you), hold the breath in, exhale for a count of five, hold the breath out for a count of five, inhale for the same count and repeat the process as many times as feels good.
7 Get aware
The real point of any yoga practice is that it’s a life-changing tool and process of self-enquiry. So, in those times when you do feel grounded, take a moment and check-in with what you’ve done (or been doing) to get you there. Know the ingredients you need to help you maintain this feeling. Take the opportunity to know what your roots need to help you stay strong; by knowing what nurtures you, you empower yourself to take the very best care of you. Now and forever.
In real life, things are rarely simple. Causes of our physical and emotional wobbles, and associated cures, are often an intricate mix of many factors, feelings, and more things than I could list in the whole magazine, let alone this article. Contrary to what you may read in other places, I do not believe that yoga alone can fix everything. If you’ve got anxiety issues, or anything else going on, please get the support and help you need. Talk about it. Get professional help if you need it. See yoga as the awesome tool in your ‘How to Feel Awesome ’kit but know that just as there’s never one reason for how we feel, there’s rarely one single resolution.
Meg Jackson is the founder of Real Life Yoga, a movement to help real people bring a little (or a lot) of yoga into their real lives. Join her ‘Me Me Me Retreat; A yoga holiday all about YOU ’this August in southern Spain. Check out reallifeyoga.net for all the info and to book one of the final few places.