The term grounding has many different meanings. Its literal definition is the basic training or instruction in a subject. While in many various philosophies, grounding represents both an adjective indicating a centered, grounded feeling and a verb meaning to physically ground down. So it would make sense that the better our training in the system(s) which grounds us, the more centered and firmly rooted we feel within our stance to the surrounding environment.
What we think of as environmental nature is always offering us a communion with life. There is no doubt that spending more time amongst the elements and amidst the life within nature will lend to a deeper, more comfortable grounding or centered feeling in an individual. Intuitively, I’m sure most people are aware of this, yet struggle with the artificial currents of society to find the time to do so. Compound this with the fact that we have adapted the use of many artificial systems, comprised of many unnatural and fragmented elements which seem to replace the natural elements of our experience. We even attempt to assimilate these artificial elements by naming them with terms relative to nature, which only confounds the disorientation at the benefit of making certain technologies appear more natural. All in all, it’s no wonder why we feel so removed from our outer and therefore inner natures.
However, in addition to the natural environment outside of us, there is also one which parallels it within us. It is itself rooted within the orientation of our movement within and without. For instance, our seeming movement in the four directions, the nature of our expansion and contraction, how perceived polarities seem to invite volition, and the rhythmic undulations of our thought and emotions just to name a few. These characteristics of our experience are a vast natural environment many overlook in day to day life. Fortunately, there are many well documented systems of grounding which penetrate this subject deeply and can be of great assistance in regards to establishing a well grounded center.
There are countless systems of grounding in existence, from extremely popular to rare and esoteric, and typically come in the form of religions, philosophies, or physical arts. I’m not here to try and measure them, but to outline the signs or indicators of what to me likely constitutes a successful or unsuccessful system of grounding, based on certain characteristics which may determine how deep the system will penetrate the individual. I will use the term practice and discipline interchangeably, although it is typically practice that leads to discipline.
First and foremost, the discipline should generate more love in the individual than fear. This seems fairly obvious but is often overlooked. If the practice generates more fear, then it only adds to the perceived storms and currents within. This can make a consistent inner stance elusive and likely instigate inner suppression or avoidance, which could possibly result in more destructive behavior than before exposure to the system.
Second, the practice should be enjoyable, or at least provide intermittent joy or feelings of progress and not feel too much like suffering. If not, the practice is likely to become dry quickly. This can be destructive because it can establish a negative relationship with the practice, to the point of possibly deterring the individual from a productive and viable related practice in the future.
Third, be careful of practices that require or promote premature teaching. It’s one thing to help a fellow comrade along, it’s another entirely to attempt to teach a system you don’t fully understand to others. This can do a novice student great disservice and likely stunt the teaching practitioners growth. For me this was hard to recognize until I had the good fortune of learning a system under a masterful teacher. When one tries to teach to soon, there is high probability of exposing the student to a fragment of the system, possibly deterring them do to a dull, extravagant or otherwise misleading representation. Furthermore, it is common that the one teaching actually begins to limit their own potential within the system. If a pond has too many outgoing streams before it is full, it will itself eventually dry up; and the idea of teaching something to learn it, much abused. To share what one has learned is fine, but should not be the path to credential. Master teachers are those who learn a curriculum so well, the curriculum chooses to be taught through them.
Above all, I believe the most important factor is what drives the individual to the practice. It is much easier to devote large amounts of time and discipline to a practice that comes naturally, or feels necessary to one’s well being, rather than performing a practice because it sounds good, everyone else is doing it, or especially out of fear. My personal experience, was that as I began to have more and more transformative experiences, I also began to develop a natural propensity and affinity to a particular type of practice. In many ways, this felt to me like natures call to correction, and the teacher appeared only once I had sincerely surrendered and been made pliable by the currents of change.
Mental grounding is a natural part of the mind’s protective mechanism, and uses self concepts which envelop our feelings, making our experiences feel stable and concrete. However, as I described in a previous segment, many of the systems encompassing our environments are artificial in nature. This means many of the concepts which come from them, which we attempt to encapsulate ourselves in, simply aren’t sustainable and may lend to much friction and imbalance over time.
As we begin to progressively evolve spiritually, many tend to move away from one’s reliance on these limiting self concepts which breed measurement and fragmentation, moving into a more expansive inner environment. While this is a great step in our unfoldment, it still requires a new system of protection or grounding which affords similar feelings of stability and harmony with one’s environment.
This is essentially what systems of grounding do mentally, they provide a way of being in the world which aligns with a set of principles that support a particular inner stance, which is typically shared by others. A universal example would be that self concepts are replaced with deeper truths (the shared attributes of one’s greater truth or reality), such as the understanding of one’s eternal nature and seeming oneness with All. Then, rather than a concept based system of measure, like the constant mirage of measuring one fragmented concept in time against another, in hopes to find out one is in some illusionary way, ahead of the other. The practitioner perhaps learns to rely on the principles of higher truth and oneness. Such as establishing one’s thinking around greater service to the whole and being a clear, bright reflection to others to find a stable and lasting ground in their environment, capable of nurturing a sense of inner peace, unity and fulfillment.
To me, the ideal mental grounding should consist of a way of seeing oneself in the world which is unwavering in one’s inner stance, by being very much aligned with greater truth or one’s true reality (spiritual reality). This can lead to a remarkable ability to quickly find one’s center when suddenly jolted by circumstance. Greater truth or our true reality is circular in nature, so having a thought system comprised at this level can actually lend to a very fluid and dynamically balanced stance, unbreakable in penetration and limitless in depth.
While there are many really good doctrines which provide well rounded thought systems with which to ground, no one system is right for everyone. Likely the most common barrier to most really good systems, is the labels used and the aspirants relationship to them. If you’re struggling with finding a good one and would like suggestions, feel free to contact me through the feedback section and I’d be happy to help. The reason I don’t reference any works on this site, is because I want it to be free of labels and thereby as universal as possible.
Having an established system of grounding is very beneficial and can prove invaluable to some, however for many there is extra work needed to generate a well rounded ground. Emotional grounding can be quite challenging do to the powerful inner ocean of our emotional bodies; with it’s propensity for great storms and relentless currents such as overwhelming moods generated by fear, such as doubt, jealousy and unreconciled remorse, just to name a few.
While many systems of grounding focus on the mind and body, few deal with the emotions directly, yet this should not discount the need to stabilize the emotional body. For many therapy, counseling or healing groups may be necessary to achieve a soundly balanced level of emotional stability. The point is, the seeming relentless gyrations of the emotions can reach a calm disposition, but one’s deepest shadows must first come to light. Pretending is pretending, and will only lead to crisis at some point on a progressive path. To deal with the inner trauma of life directly may not always be the most comfortable path, but in the long run the most fruitful.
The by product of a sound and well rounded ground is an inner stillness which even once rocked, rebounds swiftly, generating a consistent inner stance enduring of the dynamic landscape of both one’s inner and outer world.
While mental grounding is certainly of great importance, as it creates the container for our grounded experience, it only goes so far if one feels undermined by a feeling of ill health, whether that of obesity, addiction, disease or some other nagging reminder that all is not well.
Some systems focus on the body quite heavily and others little to none. If physical grounding seems lacking to the individual and is not really present in the system. Then more time in nature, physical training or a sport of some type can certainly help. Time in nature is probably the most obvious method for physical grounding. The issue which arrises, is we can’t take the natural environment with us back into the artificial systems which comprise much of our day to day surroundings. For this reason, I believe recreational sports or similar structured group oriented challenges, which involve many different personalities can be a great supplement to one’s overall grounding. Because it grants the practitioner a platform for testing out or challenging their ability to stay grounded within the engaging reality of relationship, regardless of one’s environment. In addition, the body is highly engaged and the mind more likely to work harmoniously with it, not to mention the calories you’re burning.
In my exposure to various systems I’ve also found that if one practices a system of grounding long enough, the body will follow. One of the truly amazing things about the body is that it will heal itself once we stop the destructive patterns that fostered ill health to begin with. However, depending on the state of one’s body, there are many times when certain deficiencies or abnormalities should be dealt with head on in parallel with one’s practice.
When it comes to the body, the more one understands the why and the how of their movement, the more intelligible their movement becomes.
It has been said that one should suspend their thoughts from above, but keep their feet firmly planted on the ground. Well that’s a lot easier said than done. It can be difficult enough to evolve to a point where one’s thoughts become spiritually centered, as if one is constantly looking up or within for guidance.
The problem is, when focused above one can easily lose sight of where their feet are taking them, especially when the feet tend to move in accordance with old patterns or conditioning. Not only that, if one’s mind is fixated within the clouds, it becomes easy for them to get blown around in the turbulent winds that sometimes whirl through their environment. This is why it’s so important we have an anchor, something that keeps us steady, even through the most turbulent storms.
For me, the key to the integration of above and below is the heart. It’s impossible to move from two points at once, but in my experience, one can move from the heart, holding above and below in its peripheral view.
As one progresses on the path, grounding becomes especially important in terms of energy regulation, as spiritual experiences can sometimes feel very energetic. This can easily lend to imbalance when the participant does not know how to ground the experience and grant time for the mind’s assimilation and the body’s recovery. No matter what religion or philosophy one studies, no matter how high the teacher believed in or studied was consciously connected spiritually, it seems there was always periods of rest and assimilation involved.
At some point, after enough time has past of willing progress, one hopefully begins to become the expression they’ve been gifted with. It is this juncture where grounding is crucial to the building of one’s greatest endeavors. Essentially, the higher one builds upward, they must conversely build downward. Yet this is likely not a linear path and the integrity of the ground’s formation has great effect. This is why a wide, deep and well rounded ground is best practice for building a lasting and structurally sound foundation, capable of supporting the individuals greatest expressions.
This section will be specifically focused on the types of lack of grounding which surround spiritual experience and not the plethora of phycological labels that have been unleashed on our psyches by man, as the focus of these modules is that of one’s spiritual evolution.
Probably the most obvious symptom indicating a need for grounding and therefore a lack of it, is when after a significant spiritual experience, one seems removed from or out of touch with reality. Now I know this is a sensitive area, but my hope is to break it down to manageable components. First, the mind is an amazing instrument and capable of remarkable experience, so when a fantastic new instance of perception occurs, it can feel very much like it’s own reality, like it is a thing or accomplishment in itself. But here’s the thing, even the greatest acquisition of knowledge or understanding is simply like having an increased voltage of electricity. In and of itself, it is useless to others unless one has a relative ground, and more than likely one is not presently equipped with the necessary ground at the time of the experience. Perhaps this is how That which is greater builds through us, by granting us the experience necessary to build a ground (or bridge) for expression.
One common pitfall which occurs in the wake of greater spiritual experience, is an overwhelming need and excitement to share it with others. The problem is that these experiences typically do not translate and even if conveyed well, tend to be very misunderstood. Where the real problem enters is “concepts”. Everyone involved starts trying to fit what happened into them. Which is funny in a way, since what to me is a major characteristic of greater spiritual experience, is that it defies all of one’s concepts, at least that’s been my experience. I believe this is one of the major motivations for keeping one’s intimate experiences with greater truth somewhat private as to avoid the incurrence of external doubt and disbelief or worse, which can ultimately undermine the individuals own beautiful experience.
Another typical symptom to look out for is packaging oneself and the experience into a grandiose self concept. Naturally this can be tempting, but if we look at how much distortion self concepts have created in our lives previously, it is not hard to see why taking such a clear and wholehearted experience and stuffing it into a distorted container likely won’t be very fruitful. The effects of this type of self concept can typically be divided into two varieties of the same, and are that of attempting to teach and attempting to lead based on the self concept generated by one’s spiritual insights. However, if we look at two of the examples I gave earlier, it’s easy to see why this most likely will not work, at least not for long. That’s because one, the energetic experience must have a relative ground to effect others and two, a lot of these out of the box type experiences simply do not translate well and are likely to breed misinterpretation. Though it may very well be, that perhaps one is to lead or teach based on their experience, but the effectiveness one will have actually doing this, will be determined by how well they’ve grounded it all.
Ultimately, if you are ever blessed with the wonderful gift of seeing the greater truth within you and beyond, from my experience, take as much time as you can to rest, appreciate and assimilate the experience. I believe the more one does this, the greater positive effect the experience will have on the individual, and hopefully the deeper they will ground it, resulting in the possibility of one’s most beautiful expressions of service.
Music by ISHQ: Cloud Forest
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Music by ISHQ: Cloud Forest