In the first post in this series on Being Grounded, I defined being grounded as a state of relaxed skeletal balance where the forces generated by the weight of your body pass cleanly through your skeleton into the ground, and supporting forces from the ground are transmitted back up through your skeleton. I’ve recently released a DVD titled Living in Gravity exploring what that means experientially. Continue reading Living in Gravity DVD
The experience of being grounded comes from having a clear proprioceptive sense of the path of support from the ground beneath you through your feet. When your body weight is carried by a balanced, relaxed skeleton the supportive forces pass cleanly from one bone to next along the path, making that path of support relatively easy to sense. Tensions along that path, on the other hand, disrupt and “muddy” the transmission of force from one bone to the next, obscuring the path and making it more difficult to feel.
To get a sense of this, try the following exploration. Stand where you can just rest your closed fist against a wall with your arm extended. With your arm and shoulder relaxed, lean slightly forward, gradually transferring some of your weight into the wall. If you do this gently, you should be able to feel the skeletal path along which the force travels though your hand and arm back into your shoulder and ribcage. Then come back to standing and stiffen your arm and shoulder, and lean into the wall again with a stiff arm. This time the path through your skeleton will be less evident, obscured by the tensions in the arm and shoulder muscles.
Much is written about being grounded. A google search turns up more than 700,000 entries for the term. Some are about the kind of being grounded that happens to a child as a form of punishment, but most have to do with connection to the ground and its consequences. Some writers see it in terms of an energetic connection to the earth, others in terms of calmness and presence, others in terms of feeling empowered and in control. It is all these things, I think, but at it’s core, it is about your proprioceptive experience of connection with the earth beneath you.
Today I want to explore the experience of being grounded from a physiological and a perceptual perspective. What is that experience, and how do we create it for ourselves? In particular, what forms of somatic organization facilitate the experience, and what forms of somatic organization detract from it? And how can we encourage those which facilitate it?
You live in a field of gravity. Gravity is an ever-present force pulling you and everything around you toward the center of the earth. You end up being pressed against whatever supporting surface is immediately beneath you — the ground itself, the floor if you’re in a building, a piece of furniture you’re sitting or lying on, or whatever. Supporting yourself within the gravitational field is an ongoing activity that you manage automatically and largely unconsciously. Your sense of being grounded, or not, grows out of how you do that. Continue reading The experience of being grounded
Choice and life are intimately intertwined. Life presents us with choices, and the way we make those choices determines how we experience life. Some high-level choices seem big and in the foreground, like choosing a career, or a mate, or where to live, or what U.S. foreign policy should be. We give those choices a lot of thought and attention — sometimes.
Other lower level choices lie more in the background and further from consciousness — like the choice of which muscle fibers to contract, how strongly, and in what sequence as you walk across a room, pick up a glass of water, swing a golf club, or take part in a conversation. But how you make those choices, and how well you do so, plays a major role in whether your actions are fluid or stiff, graceful or clumsy, in whether you experience yourself as empowered and competent, or bumbling and incompetent.
Yet other choices seem lower-level still, so deeply backgrounded that we hardly register making them. Many choices you make in composing your experience of yourself and your environment are like this — how much available information you actually take in (awareness), for example, or what parts of that information you notice and incorporate in your decisionmaking (attention). These things may appear to “just happen” on their own, without explicit choice on your part, but that appearance is illusory. You do choose, though you may do so automatically and unconsciously. The unconscious choices you make at very low levels may ultimately have greater influence on the direction and quality of your life than do the more obvious higher-level choices of which you are more consciously aware.
This blog will explore some of the choices life offers, the mechanisms through which we make those choices, and the effects they have on how we experience life. I believe that better understanding of those mechanisms can lead to better choices and a better quality of life. I’ll focus particularly on the choices that determine our experience of our physical and emotional interactions with the world around us — the choices through which we construct and maintain the collective illusion we call reality, as I’ve described it in the past.
There are many ways to frame these issues. In The Reality Illusion I framed them in terms of constructing reality, and I’ve experimented with various other framings since. I currently find the idea of composing experience a good one, and that will be the central theme around which I organize my thinking here.
You compose experience on an ongoing moment-to-moment basis. You filter and select bits and pieces of information from the much richer stream of information in which you are constantly immersed. You combine those bits and pieces with information and structure from your past experience to create your current experience. The kind of life you have — happy or sad, secure or fear-filled, bland or exciting, meaningless or rewarding — may ultimately be determined more by the way you manage that creative process than by the external circumstances you encounter.
Better understanding of the mechanisms you use to compose your experience is an important first step to managing those mechanisms to improve the quality of the experience you compose. I hope this blog will help you reach that better understanding.