A friend going through a rough time recently asked me to share some words with her some words about practice. She had appreciated what I have said in classes over the years, but wished for a tangible definition she could currently take hold of. I thought about this for a week or so, and then Facebook shared a memory between this friend and myself. It was something I had said in restorative yoga class one night: “every breath is a new opportunity to plant your feet on the ground and let the earth support you.”
Yes, this certainly sounded like something I would say. In my eyes, and practice, the ground and the breath are essential tools. But these are tools of survival. It is the consistent practice of these tools that allows them to become embodied, rather than to remain an intellectual understanding. This practice doesn’t ever end, as our felt experience is forever changing, and our reasons for utilizing these tools is also ever-changing.
So I thought further about practice this week. If we consider breathing and grounding essential tools of survival, of our very existence, how do we actually live?
I began to think about gratitude practice. A simple metaphor immediately came forward as I plan my new brand new garden. If I plant a food garden there is some initial effort to plant seeds and seedlings. If I take the opportunity to express my gratitude for the people in my life, to those people directly, when I feel it, I am sowing those seeds. It is anything, and everything, even the smallest things – especially the smallest things. Whether actions, or words, no act is too small or big. I can most certainly plant those seeds in myself with daily mindfulness practice also. If I take this metaphor a little further, might tending the soil from which the acts of kindness and gratitude grow be the most important of acts? When I am experiencing difficulty in my life, the roots that have grown from the seeds I have planted seem to lift me up: my husband offers unconditional generosity, a friend gifts me a massage, my child slides in beside my slumped and exhausted body, slips her hand in mine and tells me how much she loves me. In these times when I am perceiving the world through a particularly dim lens, I wonder what I have done to deserve these kindnesses. But… they came from tending my garden. This is nourishing living.
However, grounding and breathing are not tools to manage only calamity. No. An absence of connection and embodiment would probably mean that the experience of a sunrise would not be as rich and textured. A kiss on the neck by a lover would not be as shiver-inducing. A walk by a creek with a child would not be filled with such wonder.
I like to tell it like it is. Meditation and mindfulness practice don’t make my life magically better. They help me manage it better, with more grace and less reactivity. So I suppose we keep practicing grounding and breathing, and marry these practices with gratitude: connected and embodied living.
~ Tania is currently working full time as a rehab assistant which is a vast world in which she is now a Jill-of-all-trades. This including teaching yoga therapeutically to those with chronic-pain. Tania still teaches 3 classes at the studio restorative yoga, foundations, and prenatal yoga. Watch for upcoming workshops, mindfulness hikes, and blog posts.