Ever feel "grounded"? More importantly, ever feel "ungrounded"? What does that mean, exactly? Everyone says it, but have you ever stopped to think about what being grounded actually means? What does it consist of? Is it like possessing a super-special quality that only certain types of super-special people have? Is it more of an absence of something in particular... like our emotions!? We'll talk all about it here and then discuss a simple exercise for achieving that ever-elusive grounded feeling.
Lets start by talking about what being ungrounded does to us. Being ungrounded can send us into some pretty crazy states of mind: entitlement, jealousy, superiority, confusion, resentment, regret, blame, fury, rage, fear. So many things, people and situations in our lives can seemingly appear to throw us off-balance and into a mood that feels wrong, icky and upside down. What's cool, though, is that it is actually the responsibility of each one of us to stand strong and remain grounded no matter what happens to us in our lives. To uncover what makes you feel ungrounded, it may be worth reflecting on this topic in your own life. For me it's a lack of time for being alone (eg: reading, writing, and just thinking my own thoughts in general), excess noise, an over-packed schedule, and too little exercise.
What throws you off?
"I feel very blessed to have two wonderful, healthy children who keep me completely grounded, sane and throw up on my shoes just before I go to an awards show just so I know to keep it real." -Reese Witherspoon
Ha! Well-said and so applicable to all of us mamas. How often do our kids bring us back to reality when our heads go swimming in the clouds of emotion? All the time! So, then, what does being grounded actually feel like? Again, this sensational reality is different for each and every one of us, but it centers around being conscious in the present moment. Grounding is a state of being balanced, centered and aligned with ourselves. As mothers, being grounded allows us to care for ourselves, our children and our families with patience, compassion and kindness because we are conscious of what is happening now. When we're grounded our heads aren't swimming with thoughts of future "what if's" or regrets of past "oh, crap's!"
If at times you find that fear, anxiety, guilt, overwhelm or resentment is holding you back from living and mothering with an open heart (as all mamas do at times), try out My Tree Has Roots. It's a quick (less than 5 MINUTES!), easy and effective way to release the tension that naturally builds up in our daily lives. For max benefit, this release is best practiced in a calm, centered state. However, the satisfying freedom of this exercise can still be achieved in any moment of your busy day as long as you're able to place just a few minutes of focused attention on it.
You may choose to practice this release at any time of the day (even while driving...seriously!), but try to ground yourself, at the very least, once a day. This technique is also safe and beneficial to practice with your child(ren). Never too early to start teaching effective coping skills :-) So why not give it a try right now? You'll no doubt feel lighter and more centered both immediately afterward and throughout your day. "Too good to be true," you say? Give it a go every day for a week and feel the bliss of being grounded.
My Tree Has Roots gridclub.com
"My body is like a tree."
Begin by finding a comfortable position either standing, sitting or lying down. Take several deep, cleansing breaths... focusing on the flow of your breath as it goes in and out. Imagine that your body is a tree... any type of tree you wish.
"My tree has roots."
Once you can picture your body as a tree, imagine your tree growing roots deep into the ground. These roots can appear either as traditional tree roots or something different: a beam of colorful light, roots that sparkle with glitter and diamonds, watery and flowing roots... anything you wish.
"My roots reach down to the Earth's core."
Reflections of the Earth's beauty and power are evident all around us in every moment. Our planet has an incredibly grounding nature about it. Gardening, hiking, lying on the beach, swimming in the ocean, having a picnic, walking barefoot... all of these activities tune us in to the natural harmony that the Earth possesses. When we seek to feel grounded, we seek to tap in to the grounding nature of the Earth herself; and that nature is strongest at her core. When we envision our roots reaching all the way to the Earth's core, we achieve a connection with the planet that is seldom felt or acknowledged.
Now imagine your roots reaching all the way to the Earth's core. It doesn't have to take long to get down there. Simply imagine a cross section of the planet with you standing, sitting or lying on the surface. Imagine that your roots reach down to the core. This step may seem like overkill, but it actually is the difference between feeling sorta grounded and completely grounded. Also, the more you practice My Tree Has Roots, the faster and easier these steps become.
"I release fear (tension, stress, anxiety, guilt, anger, etc.)."
Once you feel your roots have made a connection to the core, you can say, "I release fear," or whatever it is you'd like to release. As you say this, picture the stress leaving your body through your roots. Feel the tension draining out of you. Saying a prayer for assistance in releasing emotions is also very helpful here. Tune in to your breathing and continue to repeat this mantra until you feel "done" or "clear." The human body is a miraculous and intelligent presence. When your mind thinks or says something that you believe in, your body naturally follows suit. So... tell your body to release the stress and it will.
When we are free and clear of tension, stress and fear, we naturally live and mother from a more positive, productive place within ourselves. When we feel more "grounded," we have the ability to be more mindful of our emotions; thereby enabling us to breeze by more of life's pot holes and hurdles with grace. Even more importantly, getting grounded enables us mamas to model effective and appropriate ways of dealing with strong emotions and situations for our children.
Look closely at the image to the left... what do you see? Can you see the duck? Can you see the bunny? Can you see both the duck and the bunny at the same time?
What we actually see depends on where we focus our attention. You see a duck in this picture, when you focus your attention on seeing a duck. You see a bunny in this picture when you focus your attention on seeing a bunny. And did you notice how you can't see both the duck and the bunny at the same time? Isn't it interesting how our brains work?
I love this little experiment because it shows us 1) that one thing can be seen in many different ways, 2) what we intend on seeing is what we will see in reality, and 3) that we have the power to shift our attention and see something completely different simply by changing our perception.
As Mindful Mamas, this is powerful stuff, especially as it relates to how we see our children. The thoughts we think about our children will directly impact how we see them. How we see our children impacts how we interact with them and the expectations we set for them, ultimately shaping how they come to see themselves.
The Eyes of Fear Versus The Eyes of Love
"A miracle is a shift in perception from fear to love-- from a belief in what is not real, to faith in that which is. This shift in perception changes everything" (Marianne Williamson).
Shifts in perception-- this is what Mindful Mothering is all about! Mindfulness is our practice of noticing; noticing when our thoughts have fallen into the grips of ego (aka- fear), letting those thoughts go without reacting to them, and then choosing to return to love. Just like you only see the duck or the bunny (not both at the same time), there are only two ways to see our children-- through the eyes of love or the eyes of fear. Marianne Williamson reminds us that "[l]ove is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here." This reminds us that love is the only thing that is real and fear is an illusion.
As Mindful Mamas, our practice is to routinely get back to our center point of love when we notice that our fearful thoughts have pulled us away. Our mindfulness practice is the daily dedication to noticing our fearful thoughts about our children and situations they are in and work to "unlearn fear" so that the divine, limitless love that emanates from our Truth is what guides our thoughts, actions, and words in our mothering.
There are countless moments in our everyday lives when our fears for our kids get triggered. And when our fears get triggered, our thoughts and actions seek to limit, confine, control, and constrict the full expression of our children. We don't do it on purpose and, many times, we don't even realize when we are doing it. This is how fear works; it likes to fly undetected...that's how it maintains its power. When our fears for our children take control, how we see them changes; and how we see makes all the difference in how our kids come to see themselves.
Seeing your kids as capable, smart, resilient, and trustworthy
Courageous mothering is choosing to see your children through the eyes of love even when you are tempted to see through the eyes of fear. It's choosing to see them (in even the most scary situations, like when your "baby" is leaving for college) as capable, intelligent, resilient, and trustworthy. It's choosing to return to love when fear has taken you away.
Remember that fear will trick you. Without your awareness, your fears will trick you into seeing your kids as unable, needing your constant care, attention, and protection. Think about why mothers overprotect their kids (I am raising my hand here-- I've totally done this!). They are afraid their children will get hurt (emotionally and/or physically)-- and they won't be able to handle it. They are afraid of what pain their kids will feel-- and they won't be able to handle it. More so, mothers are afraid of what they will feel when they see their child experiencing pain-- and are afraid that they won't be able to handle it!
In the end, our fears cause us to overprotect our kids (in other words, limit the full expression of themselves) because we are afraid that we are not strong enough, capable enough, or resilient enough to handle it! If we are not Mindful Mamas, its easy to project our perceptions about ourselves on our children. When we are not aware that we are seeing our children (and ourselves) through the eyes of fear, our words and actions towards our kids can reinforce the false belief that they are not capable, not strong enough, or not trustworthy.
Our Mindful Mama Practice
Courageous mothering requires a powerful shift in perspective (that's mindfulness)-- choosing to see our children through the eyes of love rather than fear. It's choosing to see our children:
*as 100% capable of anything they attempt to do, beginning at birth
*as possessing infinite intelligence. Our role is then to create opportunities for them to display it.
*as "born hardwired for struggle" (lovely quote by Brené Brown), strong, and resilient
These steps will give you the power to turn any fearful thought back to love. Sometimes it is easy, other times, not so much. Practice makes perfect. I've found it more challenging to "return to love" when my girls are doing something I see as dangerous (ahem-- scaling a climbing wall that looks 50 feet high), so I've started to practice these steps when I "fear" they are not able to do something for themselves.
Step 1) NOTICE when your brain starts to see through the eyes of fear. You may feel compelled to do something for your child they are completely able to do themselves (thinking they lack the ability, or fear that there isn't enough time, so you want to do it yourself) or you may feel the urge to stop certain behaviors to discourage them from doing something that scares you (fears for their safety).
Step 2) SHIFT to seeing through the eyes of love. See them as capable, smart, and "hardwired for struggle." Say, "I trust you." "I know you can do this." "You are more capable than you realize." "I believe in you.". Your words form their belief system about themselves.
Step 3) ACCEPT and ACKNOWLEDGE how they do things. Compliment them on a job well done, about how imaginative they are, and how well they approach the problem. Draw their attention to their uniqueness, ability, and intelligence.
How we see our children makes all difference in how they come to see themselves. Practice shifting your perspective from fear to love in those mothering moments that tend to trigger your deepest fears and notice how your hopes for your children start to outweigh your fears. Notice how your connection to your child deepens and strengthens because it's based on faith and not fear. Notice how they respond to your positive expectations. Notice how they shine and come into their true selves-- starting to see themselves exactly the way you see them...through the eyes of love.