A cool grey overcast sky can feel relentless after a while in its effort to keep the sun just out of sight. To me, at least. Bright warm sunshine is a motivator, infusing me with energy to tackle projects and lifting my mood in general. Today was an offering of cool persistent grey that lulled me into a feeling of laziness and loneliness. I felt slightly disoriented and adrift for most of the day.
That is, until I got out on the water. I had the pleasure of leading a group of friends in a paddle board yoga session in the afternoon. I started our class in the same way that I normally start class, seated. I like to begin with a grounding practice and breath work to help us settle in and arrive. Often our thoughts are anywhere but with us in the present moment. And that's how I had been feeling as well - spacey, scattered, unsettled. What surprised me was finding such a profound sense of grounding and connection out on the water. As I sat on top of the paddle board, it pulled me into awareness out of necessity. I had to be conscious of what I was doing to stay upright. I also became aware of my place in a group of people who I was there to serve, as well as my sensory experience of our natural surroundings. My awareness was no longer in my thoughts. It was in my body. I had come home to the present moment. In Ayurveda, a sense of unsettledness is an imbalance of too much Vata (air) energy. Usually, this means too many thoughts racing and pulling us in different directions. It can be balanced by increasing Kapha energy and connecting yourself to the earth (i.e. standing with your feet on the ground - bonus points if you're barefoot) and feeling into that connection. Slower movement practices that focus on the lower body can be especially helpful. Kapha energy is made up of earth and water. The heaviness of the water counteracts the lightness of the air. In this case, the heaviness of the water was like a magnet sweetly drawing my awareness down into it my body. The gentle movement under the paddle board wasn't destabilizing, but rather became a way to stabilize my thoughts by giving them focus. The water element is also significant around connection and relationships. Being on the water and in community with others was like an anchor for me when I felt adrift. This is why I love sharing the practices of movement and mindfulness so much. I enjoy creating a sense of community and healing for others, and it is what I need as well. Heather, I invite you to notice when you feel truly present. It is such a gift. If you need help feeling grounded or finding that sense of presence, here are a few things you might try:
Take a deep slow breath in and sigh it out - what do you notice?
Stand/sit with your feet planted and notice the feel of your feet on the ground
Soften your jaw and relax your shoulders (it's amazing the amount of tension we carry)
Stand on one foot to balance - what do you notice?
Notice how you feel after a minute or so of this kind of mindfulness. I would love to hear any insights you have.