10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There) is a program to help us develop habits to grow a joyful spirit. Many of us sabotage our happiness by habits that we might not even be aware of. Identifying and changing these habits can build a reservoir of well-being to enhance our happy times and sustain us during challenging times.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Touching the Earth
Each blade of grass has its spot on earth whence it draws its life, its strength; and so is man rooted to the land. ~Joseph Conrad
In Greek mythology, Antaeus was the son of Poseidon, god of the sea, and Gaia, mother earth. As long as he was in contact with the ground, his mother gave him strength to beat anyone in battle. He vanquished all foes until Heracles figured out his secret and held him in the air, rendering him weak and easily dispatched.
In tai chi and kung fu, our teacher repeatedly reminds us to root through our feet into the ground. All our power comes from our connection to the earth. I got a memorable demonstration of that today. Our teacher was showing us how much energy can be generated by “sinking” into our root. Using me as his partner, he stood in front of me with his open palm facing me, his fingers lightly resting on my chest.
Without withdrawing his hand, he made only the slightest visible move, sort of a dropping of the hips and a settling of the wrist. Power exploded from his hand. It felt like a horse had kicked me in the chest. I flew backwards across the room and landed unceremoniously on my behind. It surprised everyone, including, I think, the teacher, who ran to help me up and was very solicitous of me the rest of class.
As I’ve told people about my martial arts practice, it is a practice in humility! Beyond my wounded ego and derriere, though, I learned something today about the giving and receiving of energy.
On the giving side, it is abundantly clear to me that we are the most powerful when we are grounded. This is true whether we are talking about physical power or spiritual strength. When we are connected with an open channel to our source, by whatever name you want to call it (nature, God, chi, the universe), we are able to offer to others the energy that flows through us and out. People who manifest beauty, whether through art or love or martial arts or any other form, often speak of something coming through them rather than from them.
On the receiving side, the same is true. We are the least powerful when we try to block the natural flow of energy. Knowing what my teacher was about to do (even if I did not anticipate the degree of power), I braced myself to resist. I was not rooted, but rather rigid. Whatever harm I suffered was from my own resistance. Had I been able to stay fluid and rooted, his energy would have moved through me and back into the earth.
And what was my resistance but fear? Fear blocks energy. We can neither offer nor receive energy when we are stiff with fear. Fear uproots us because it disconnects us from the ground of the present moment, from the fluidity of our breath, from the loveliness and the lovingness of the universe.
How often in my life do I resist what is? How often do I get pulled from the perfection of the present moment into fearful thoughts? Yes, too often. So I’ll be back in class tomorrow, and I will ask for another demonstration. Because this is where my practice is, on the ground.
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain. ~Frank Herbert
related posts: Invest in Loss; Step Away from the Thought
Posted by Galen Pearl at 2:33 PM
Labels: fear, Step 10-Now, yield
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Beautifully said. I am having a hard time picturing you NOT flying backward, but instead staying rooted, in spite of the force though??ReplyDelete
Julie, Me too! I suspect it is going to require a LOT of investing in loss! (see related post) Perhaps I should invest in some extra padding along with that loss. Check with me a few years from now and see how I'm doing. In the meantime, thanks for commenting.Delete
"How often in my life do I resist what is?" That question echoes with me. I am just beginning to learn how much pain resistance to what is can cause. Thank you for your real-life example of learning about resistance.ReplyDelete
Tina, This is a question most of us could ask every day. Glad to provide an example at my behind's expense! Thanks for commenting.Delete
Makes me think of how so many people in modern society live ahead of themselves. Always thinking ahead; planning ahead, thinking of what plans they have for the afternoon or the next day, next week or even next year. We are forever "on the move" in modern society. The problem is that when things don't turn out as planned, we are left "high and dry" so to speak. Trying hard to teach myself to live in the moment as it really is all we have. I think it is important to dream and have plans and ideas, but as Rudyard Kipling said: "Don't let dreams be your master". Pam xxReplyDelete
Pam, Great quote by Kipling. Yes, dreams have a place in our lives, but when we are always somewhere else, we miss our lives right now. Thanks for commenting.Delete
Didn't mean to laugh out loud Galen, but you did make it sound so funny, landing on your btm like that.ReplyDelete
What a fabulous lesson for us in our lives, resistance makes matters worse. Yet how many times do we resist those things we don't want and end up getting more of them.
Loved this post.
ell, Don't apologize for laughing. If someone had taped it, I could submit it to America's Funniest Videos and win a prize! Thanks for commenting.Delete
Well, I really like the idea here, but I've seen way too many scary movies, so I suspect your teacher may secretly be a vampire or something. Take him out in the bright sunlight and see if he's sparkly. I'm just sayin'. :)ReplyDelete
Jennifer, The really scary person is my teacher's teacher, who, I'm told, can do the same thing without making any direct physical contact. Vampires indeed! Thanks for your humorous comment.Delete
I love this post Galen! What a great reminder to remain grounded and fear-less. So true about resisting! Much better to let go and flow!ReplyDelete
Betsy, I was back in class this morning, asking for more! We worked on a partner exercise that involved much gentler pushing (!) as we tried to stay rooted without using our own muscle strength. Thanks for your comment.Delete
What an incredible experience and testament to what it means to be truly grounded. How many times have we run into trouble because our footing is not secure and we are unbalanced, thinking we can do things on our own and not relying on God's power to work through us?ReplyDelete
Great analogy and thoughts, Galen. Loved it!
Yes, Martha, as the teacher said this morning, it was a teachable moment! So we worked on this a lot today. Our bodies have so much to teach us about sacred power and love. Thanks for your comment.Delete
That is a wonderful lesson today. It left me with something to think about. I wonder how strongly one must be rooted to the earth in order to have so much power to release.ReplyDelete
Bonnie, More strongly than I am, apparently! But I'm working on it. Thanks for commenting.Delete
I have some interest in occult powers, like that inherent in submission and humility. I've never forgotten that Jesus offered no defense, despite having ultimate power at his disposal. There's a resilience in all of us that opens with non-resistance. It's quite the interesting mystery. There's an opening to the flow in surrender. Thanks for your tale of practice!ReplyDelete
Mikey, My word of the year a few years ago was "Yield." It reminded me of the slogan "Yield and overcome." Like water. Jesus is a great example. He overcame death by not fighting it. Interesting mystery indeed! Thanks for commenting.Delete
I truly love learning from you. This was very enlightening and I do think that the word grounded is a powerful one. Thanks for all your thoughts today; I enjoy this post. I do believe in in being grounded in my physical and spiritual life.ReplyDelete
LeAnn, Thanks so much for your kind words. Blessings to you, too!Delete
Hi Galen! I love this! I'm so glad I saved it in Pocket until I had time to read it!ReplyDelete
Grounding is a powerful thing and yet so hard to explain. You do a great job here!
Thanks, Lori. I'm glad you saved it, too! Thanks for your kinds words.Delete
Galen: Great post. I am one who continually strives to be grounded in Nature.ReplyDelete
JJ, With your martial arts expertise, I thought you might enjoy this one. Thanks for commenting.Delete