Having just taught a class on meditation I was reminded on how simple methods of stress reduction are the ultimate form of cheap medicine. Being able to calm your body-mind, and prevent emotional upheavals before they arise marks a certain level of self-mastery that always equates with a strong sense of wellbeing.
Although many forms of meditation exist the essential components of any successful practice is being present in your body and being present in the moment. This stands drastically opposed to the “normal” mode of operation of the average citizen of the busy modern world where our minds are seldom aware of the state of our physical body. Instead, it tends to ruminate over the past or plan for the future. This presents two problems. If you are not grounded in the moment, you can become a prisoner of your past or worried over a future that may not happen. Although you can’t avoid your mind slipping back and forth along your personal timeline, dwelling too far and too long in either imaginary space will certainly disconnect you with the in-the-moment guidance system that your body offers. Your physical body speaks in the language of the present moment. It’s a dramatic example, but if you’ve ever hugged the toilet bowl with acute nausea, I’d bet you weren’t thinking much about either your past or future. You don’t need such an unpleasant event to bring you into the moment; meditation will do the job just fine.
There are many documented health benefits of meditation, among them are deeper breathing, lowered blood pressure, regular heartbeat, and a general disengaging of your sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system. With acute and chronic stresses holding many overworked and overtired in a perpetual state of alarm, meditation is a suitable off switch to rewind, relax, and rewire your nervous system. Stress is unavoidable, especially in our modern world, but you always have a choice in how you respond to that stress. Meditation, in all its forms, are a remarkable tried and true means to do this.
Try this simple meditation and compare how you feel before and after: sit relaxed in a chair with your butt scooted back and your spine straight but not tense. See to it that your ankles are directly under your knees, your legs bent with a ninety degree angle. Place your hands palm up on your knees. Slowly rock your torso side to side and front to back to find your perfect plum line. Hold your head up straight – if you have been successful in finding your plum line, your head should balance on your spine with no effort. Then feel, not visualize, a weight slowly descending from the crown of your head to floor of your pelvis. Feel it dropping down the inside of your body like an elevator descending. When you feel it reach your pelvic floor continue that feeling down and out your body to the floor, then past the floor into the Earth like a tree root burying itself. Continue this feeling downward as far as you can go and take some time, breathing deeply as you feel yourself strongly rooted like a tree. Stay here as long as you like and then open your eyes and bring your awareness back to the room whenever you are ready.
How did you do? Did you feel your body (and stress) melt downward with the feeling you created? Did you feel you hands get heavy on your knees? This pleasant heaviness should not be mistaken for the feeling of being weighed down or burdened. This heaviness is the feeling of being grounded and can be done anytime you are feeling scattered, in your head, or generally not in touch with your body. Getting grounded is the simplest form of meditation and if it is the only meditation you ever do, a longer, healthier, more relaxed life can be yours for the low, low price of…well…nothing. Now that is some good cheap medicine.
Hope you enjoyed this simple exercise. May you be grounded all the days of your life. Thanks for grounding and thanks for reading.