Peace Comes First

Your guide to creating inner peace through yoga therapy, practical spirituality and the gluten-free lifestyle.

Are You Checked Out? Here’s How To Check In.

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im-just-here-for-the-savasanaIf after a yoga class or healing treatment, you’ve felt out of your body, spacy, floaty or a “natural high” that’s a sign that you’ve become ungrounded. You’ve lost your connection between mind and body. If you feel this way often and think it’s because your soul is ascending, your spiritual energy is high or you’re just “sensitive” this is still a sign that you’re ungrounded. And probably stressed. And may have been hit with mounting stress for quite a while.

Who doesn’t like a break from stress, float around in some peaceful, dreamy state for a while? Some people have such difficultly grounding themselves, I’ve watched them immediately dissociate as soon as we start our meditation, and return an hour later with no memory of what happened. Some people enjoy this because it gives them a break from their pain and anxiety, but unfortunately, it’s not a real healing practice. It’s a temporary escape. It only deepens disassociation, or separateness, from ourselves and avoids what needs to be healed.

Learn Effective New Skills

I’ve worked with a lot of disassociated people, and that’s not a judgment because I’ve been there myself. I get it. It’s a natural reaction to stress and trauma. I get the short-term payoff to float away in Savasana when life hasn’t been a bed of roses, but a painful, thorny mess. The problem is checking out leaves you feeling scattered and still overwhelmed instead of feeling stable. Inner stability is what keeps us focused, organized and functional. It helps us move on when we need to, when the new chapter of our life is calling.

I’ve learned how incredible it feels to be fully present in my body, and how clear-headed, confident and calm I feel when I’m grounded. Think about it, if we use our healing time to check out of reality for a bit, then how will we learn new skills to deal with stress we’re trying to avoid? How will we learn to sit with uncomfortable emotions if we’re always flying outside of our body? A true healing practice is centered on mindfulness and being present, even when it hurts to do so. If we learn new skills for how to cope with the stress and pains in life, then we’ll feel more secure and we can help ourselves heal emotionally. Yoga can be so grounding, guiding us to experience that union, that interconnectedness between body, breath and mind. It’s such a sacred gift, being present in this way. When floating in the ether, you come back to the same challenging world without any new tools to coach yourself into peace, or any new insights to overcome emotional hurts.

Disassociating is like feeling really stressed at work, going on vacation and then coming home expecting things to be different when you’re returning to the same situation. Vacations can be rejuvenating, of course, but they’re not a lasting answer for daily inner peace. Consider this next time you’re in final relaxation pose, or meditating, are you still present? Or have you checked out? And if you checked out, why? What feels overwhelming? What emotions are difficult to acknowledge or accept? I think it’s better to have a good cry or admit you’re angry or grieving rather than separate from yourself because at least you’re opening a valve to let off steam instead of ignoring the boil altogether.

Stop The Windstorm

In Ayurveda, disassociating is known as vata derangement. It’s a symptom of the wind element within us becoming  blustery from living on autopilot, living a fast-paced lifestyle, too much thinking, too much rapid change, too much chronic stress, too much movement. The result is a jacked up nervous system, insomnia and/or anxiety. Think about grounding as the earth element coming in to stop the wind from moving so wildly. It’s the tree or mountain that stands securely in it’s path and says, “Hey! Calm down. Stop all the movement. Be still and breathe. The vehicle you’re moving in, your body, it needs your attention now.”

Feel Secure

Being grounded is also a great protector whether you need your street smarts for extra awareness, or you need to be extra discerning about what you choose to believe. Feeling grounded and within your body leads to practical thinking, smarter decisions and an all around feeling of safety and security. Grounded people are less easily manipulated by things they see, and can’t see.

Also, how can you learn how to love yourself if you’re avoiding yourself?

Above all, have compassion for yourself. Sometimes it takes time to feel safe in your body (this world) again, and if you’re in that phase of healing, just know it’s a natural reaction to stress, trauma and overwhelm, and small steps like just breathing deeply will help you work toward peace.

Tips to stay grounded:

1. In final relaxation, try being present instead of allowing yourself to drift away. It may feel uncomfortable at first, like a kid who wants to run out and a play and is being held back. But just experiment to see what it feels like to instead bring your attention to the top of your head, your face, your neck, your chest, your back, your shoulders, your arms, your hands, your legs, your feet and your toes. Bring your attention to the sides of your body. Bring your attention to the sensations of the floor beneath you, and the air coming in and out of your nose. See if you can connect to the physicality of your body and release the need to separate from it. You can use final relaxation with the intent to know, accept and love yourself. I recommend the same practice when meditating.

2. When getting a massage, instead of dozing off into dreamland, try noticing what the muscles feel like as the masseuse is kneading through. See if you can assist the healing by consciously releasing tension in your muscles. Communicate with your masseuse and let him/her know if you’d like them to stay a bit longer on your neck, or assist you with an arm or leg stretch. Try being fully present during your massage, paying attention to your breath and consciously choosing to let go of tension without mentally drifting away.

3. When receiving an energy balancing treatment like acupuncture or hands-on, I recommend trying the same practice as above. It will be tempting to fly away since energy therapy is working on a non-physical aspect of yourself. Still, you can stay grounded just by staying consciously aware of what is happening, and allowing yourself to be present with the feelings you experience. You can also ask the practitioner if they know any breathing techniques to help you stay grounded.

A good friend, a fellow yoga teacher, and I were talking about the importance of grounding today and we related the practice to the saying, “check yourself before you wreck yourself.” Just thought I’d share, I’m gonna use that thought to stay mindful, and crack myself up!

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