What a year we’ve had so far. It’s felt a lot like….chaos. Shadows, the end of a cycle, a MASSIVE explosion that has turned me inside out and right side up. I was required to call on all of my resilience tools, a lot of them related to regulating the nervous system by connecting to my physical body. I have always felt the call and need for more grounded energy in my life, and that was highlighted 100-fold at the beginning of this pandemic.
What is grounded energy, and how the heck did I develop any of it??
Great questions. I’m still working on the answers, so here’s what I have right now:
To begin, a definition (you know how much I love words!!): Grounded, adj: firmly established, stable, secure, well balanced. Connected to the earth. Grounded energy is opposite of the frenetic energy that often accompanies anxiety, and is different than the lethargy of depression. To be grounded is to be connected to the ground, to be connected to that which is of the ground, the earth and that is your incredible self. To me, grounded living is continually coming back to this energy: standing true in this world, centered in yourself and letting action arise from this unwavering connection. It is striving for a life of pleasure, balance, ease, and security. As an actor, when I can connect to that feeling, that settling into myself- when I connect to Rachel and everything she feels and knows, I feel a greater truth in my storytelling.
To be honest, I didn’t know what living a grounded life was like a few years ago. I wouldn’t have used the word ‘grounded’ to describe anything about me or the life I was living. This was partly influenced by the stories I told myself, stories that weren’t necessarily true, but I had absorbed as truths about myself. And some of those stories I had absorbed happened at a very young age. In part, some of the language I used to describe myself as a young person was influenced by the stories and language I heard my parents, friends, teachers, and society say.
I did not necessarily grow up in a sphere that truly allowed me to show them who I was as a human; I think sometimes it is hard to balance letting children show us who they are with our wants for them. So they made assumptions and because they were in positions of authority and usually, much older than me, I didn’t argue. I assumed that those things must be true about me too. I must be difficult, and anxious, and too sensitive, and not enough just as I was.
So, growing up, I didn’t really know who I was. Or rather, I did, deep down, but I also spent a lot of time trying to be perfect. Which is not a great use of time, because (spoiler!!!) no one is perfect. To be human is to be imperfect, so there I was, little Rachel, rejecting her humanness and spending a lot of time and energy worried about what people thought of me, and doing lots of things to make sure I was liked, instead of looking at if I really liked myself.
Now, jump forward to 2015: I find yoga (or rather, it finds me), and move to Scotland to go to grad school. Yoga changed my life. It showed me my resilience, it showed me my strength, it showed me my heart, and it showed me myself. My deep deep self, the most beautiful parts of me that I am most proud of, as well as my shadows.
I came to realize I had been living an ungrounded, disembodied (in some ways) experience. The trauma I accumulated from childhood had made me feel unsafe; not safe in my body or in myself. And coming back home to my body in those beginning months of my practice was so incredible.
I did yoga every day. Every day during an exhausting summer working a horrible job. Every day during grad school. I did yoga as I fell in love. I did yoga as I endured heartbreak. I did yoga and meditated and moved and experienced feelings in my body in a way that felt good. Like a release, instead of a depletion. I began to finally MOVE my body; ironically, at the same, I became more rooted in myself.
I was inspired to start this blog to share with all of you what I know, and more importantly, what I am still learning. To share practices for grounded living, musings, and thoughts on how to integrate this into creative work. Today, my offering is this: take 15 minutes. Do the meditation linked here. And then let me know how it goes for you.
Let’s get grounded.