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Friday, September 16, 2016

Get Down and Dirty


Being grounded is an essential skill...It means that you're present in your body and connected with the earth, allowing you to feel centered and balanced, no matter what's going on around you.”
Irene Langeveld (Website: mbg-Mind Body Green)

Being grounded is something we hear about a lot, but understand little. We, in the West, spend a lot of time in our heads—we live in a world of ideas and talk. We rely heavily on technology to do our work. Our exercise programs, if we have them, are in gyms with machines and not in the natural world. Rarely do we involve ourselves in activities that cause us to sweat or get dirty—and that's a problem. It is these very things that keep us grounded. The common, everyday things done by humanity throughout the ages for the purpose of maintaining life bring us mentally and emotionally down into our bodies, and out of our heads. Washing dishes, chopping and cooking foods, digging in dirt, dancing, walking, jumping, sanding a piece of wood—whatever brings our focus into our hands, bodies and feet—these are grounding activities. They keep us real.

There is nothing wrong with living in a world of ideas, but unless those ideas are grounded in reality, unless they connect in some way with earth and with flesh, they are like disembodied spirits. They are ghosts that have no connection to the real world of everyday people, and often miss, or miscalculate, their impact on other human beings. Here's an example: There are plans for a pipeline to run from shale fields in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois for the purpose of transporting crude oil to storage and refining facilities by the most direct route—it's called the Dakota Access pipeline. That's a good idea, right—get the oil to the refinery by the most direct route. The problem is, it runs right through an Indian reservation—through sacred burial grounds, through tribal lands. It has an out-sized impact on Native people. They don't want it, and the oil company that's already built most of it is in a difficult position. “What's the big deal!” they say. “It's underground!” Someone on NPR summed it up this way—“What if this same oil company wanted to build a pipeline underneath Arlington Cemetery?” Sometimes our great ideas are not so grounded in reality.

Keeping oneself centered and balanced requires getting out of our heads and into our bodies—being visceral, and barefooted. We can be creatures with big brains, but we still need to recognize that we came from clay and to clay we will return.

                                                   In the Spirit,


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