This year I’ve decided to structure our gatherings along with the seasons and the chakra system, so February was the time for us to “make like plants” by turning inward to feed our roots (and root chakra) in preparation for spring.
We started off with our three agreements with the emphasis on honoring the truth in ourselves and others.
GETTING TO KNOW YOU
Instead of diving into meditation I’ve gotten into the habit of opening the circle with one or two questions as a way to get to know ourselves and each other a little better. In keeping with our theme I asked everyone to name one thing that keeps her rooted in life, and how she nourishes that root. For me, a cozy home keeps me well-rooted, and I nourish that root by keeping it clean and tidy, doing periodic deep cleans and purges, and also bringing in warmth through furnishings and decor. Most recently, for example, I swapped out the blue rug in our study for one with more red in it, and found that everyone loves spending more time in there because it feels warmer and more welcoming.
Our first meditation of the evening came from David Rome’s book, Your Body Knows the Answer. The G.A.P. meditation is a very simple technique that immediately grounds and centers us by bringing us to the present moment. While some people prefer to stick to one meditation technique for years and years, my preference is for variety, because I like playing around with different tools depending on my mood and situation. This is just one of dozens of ways to ground oneself.
GROUNDING THE SPACE
With Jasmin’s permission, we also grounded and cleansed our space, and then played with what it felt like to sever the grounding so we could compare the sensation of sitting in a grounded versus ungrounded space. Someone suggested that instead of cutting our grounding, we might retract it instead, but I explained that I purposely chose that word so we could experience being ungrounded more strongly. I do support the idea of playing with these tools, though, so maybe next time we can experiment with retracting our grounding instead.
GROUNDING vs. CENTERING
Before we got too far ahead of ourselves on the monthly topic, we had a brief discussion about grounding and centering. I asked everyone to share her experience and conceptual understanding of each so that we could come upon a general consensus without losing sight of our own unique experiences. We all agreed that both grounding and centering involved an inward turn and a bringing to awareness of some kind of energy flow. We then talked about how they differed (in intention and use), and I underscored that grounding, unlike centering, was a two-way flow of releasing and receiving. Further, while we exchange energy with the earth when we ground, in centering we work exclusively with our own energy.
To continue our lesson in fundamentals, we did an overview of the root chakra with reference to Anodea Judith’s indispensable Eastern Body, Western Mind. A handy way of remembering the significance of the first chakra is by thinking about the letter S, because this energy center is related to our feelings of safety, security, solidity, support, and stability.
WAYS TO GROUND OUTSIDE OF MEDITATION
Next we took time to share how we found our grounding while we’re out and about living our lives. Being out in nature and listening to chanting came up as particularly favored methods! I find it especially interesting that being by water could have a grounding effect. It may not be as obvious as walking barefoot on grass, but I think many of us who are drawn to rivers and oceans know the restorative effects of a beach-side walk.
HOW DO YOU STAND?
I first developed a particular interest in how people stand and walk over sixteen years ago, when I was studying Reiki. We were instructed to stand shoulder to shoulder in a circle, and as I was positioning myself between two fellow students, I felt myself sway just the tiniest bit forward. The woman to my right immediately picked up on it and suggested, kindly but incisively, that I lacked the ability to stand my own ground, and was, therefore, somewhat of a “pushover.”
Bodyworker Noah Karrasch similarly observes the way we hold our bodies as clues to our mental and emotional lives, and he is interested in creating balance, alignment, and flow in our muscoloskeletal and energy systems. We referred to his book, Freeing Emotions Through Myofascial Release, to bring awareness and balance to how we stand, and also to consider how our posture as we walk might indicate a certain state of mind or disposition.
We continued our exploration into standing postures through the lens of yoga. Michele Theoret was our guide into this. Everyone stood in mountain pose while I read her questions for contemplation and reflections on the asana. The worksheet for this includes her exercises for mountain and tree poses, and I highly recommend you check it out!
The ancestor meditation was the portion of our session that I was most excited about because it involved the highest degree of uncertainty and, by extension, self trust. I offered an assortment of essential oils and stones for added support. Before we began the visualization, I went over the importance of beginner’s mind. The key to receptivity, in any sort of energy work, is being able to suspend or let go of judgment, preconceptions, and worry, in order to maintain an open heart and mind. Each person had a very different experience in meditation, and although the degree to which they felt able to communicate with their ancestors varied, everyone felt like they had a very moving and powerful encounter. I can’t wait to revisit this tool in March!
The winter assessment is a process for determining which parts of our lives nourish and drain us, and it also gives us a big picture snapshot of our energy expenditures in each of these areas. As such, the winter assessment gives us the knowing and clarity we need to bring our lives into balance and alignment with our values. This is a right brain approach to life planning, so you will have to enlist your intuitive tools and remain in beginner’s mind. We went over our body’s YES and NO, and just for fun I taught everyone how to use their body as a pendulum!
We set the next gathering for the second Thursday in March. Before moving up the chakra ladder we will linger a bit more in the first chakra by sitting with its demon: fear. Yes, we will work on facing our fears, but I promise we will do this in ways that are gentle, supportive, and even fun!