Plenty of experiences make us feel off balance and ungrounded, as if the rug is pulled out from under us or we're on a nonstop treadmill scrambling to keep it together, with varying levels of success. Working too much, sleeping too little, eating too much or too little; losing someone or something of value; gaining never-ending responsibilities-- there's no shortage of daily stressors, running the gamut in degree of intensity, to make us feel fried, frayed, and fatigued.
Each of us exhibits symptoms of feeling stressed or stretched beyond our limits differently. Some people get anxious, angry, forgetful, flighty, or all of the above. Ironically, when I am stretched beyond my limits, I literally lose my physical sense of center and become a klutz of perilous proportions. (Remember how I head-butted the overhead luggage bin on the Acela train last week? Prime example). Sure, it's entertaining for those around me (who doesn't love a good slip-on-a-banana-peel moment?), but I'm one unexpected telephone pole or oncoming truck away from serious injury.
Getting back to center can be easy or challenging, depending how far-gone you are. And, in truth, it's best to catch yourself from spiraling into uber crazed territory sooner than later. Hence, this is why we practice yoga and meditation . . .
As I've mentioned here before, mudras are an effective way to set a specific intention for a meditation practice, which brings me to bhu mudra (shown above), a very grounding, earthy mudra that is said to help practitioners find trust, grounding, and a sense of feeling rooted. It's important to note that not all stress manifests itself in a manner lacking solid ground. Depression, for example, can be very heavy, in which case you might want to try a more uplifting mudra. However, the type of tension to which I am referring today is an airier kind, a feeling of being unstable, unsteady, flying around like a whirling dervish for too much activity, stimulation, travel, responsibility, etc.
This mudra is the perfect antidote. I have been practicing it more regularly since learning it at an Ayurveda workshop at Kripalu last month, taught by Jennifer Reis. It's incredibly simple to try: Make "peace" signs with each of your hands, then root the tips of your pointer and middle fingers on each hand into the earth. You will immediately feel a sensation of "plugging" into the ground.
Close your eyes, sit still and breath deeply. As you do so, imagine your first chakra, residing at the tip of your tailbone, connecting to the floor beneath you. A mantra that inspires grounding can also help. Reis recommends saying to yourself or out loud, "I am grounded. I am connected."
Good luck getting grounded, yogis! If you have other mudras, asanas, or personal tricks that help you feel centered, please share.
[Photo taken in the yoga studio space, suspended above the beach and amidst the trees, at Jade, and eco hotel in Tulum, Mexico].