Redefining being “stuck”

A theme I’ve been working with since last summer is the idea that our ability to ground, to root down, must be in proportion with any focus on expansion or growth. Just like a tree can only grow as tall as its roots can support, or risk being highly vulnerable to the elements, we cannot only focus on expansion and growth. Naturally this is easier to feel and embody when we’re in a state of flourishing, or looking back at a time of apparent “dormancy,” but it is not so easy when you’re feeling stuck or wondering why things aren’t moving faster.

I’d to consider here the difference between energetic grounding and physical grounding. I would define energetic grounding as the connection to all the forms of energy, often times with a focus on earth energy, and perhaps a connection to core self, collective creative unconscious, and nature. While this is an important aspect of grounding there is also a quality of being in a somewhat altered state. Which is to say, it is also a form of expansiveness (interconnectedness). So when I repeatedly kept getting the message/intuition to focus on grounding I would think to myself “but I’m DOING that already!”
As a result I’ve been focusing on rooting into the physical in a very concrete way, as a part of my routine, and asking myself to explore new methods of grounding.

It’s funny how every once in a while, something pulls you back to “the basics” and having spent a long time cultivating other ways of being you see it with fresh eyes. There’s lots of fairly straightforward ways to connect to the physical: stretching, sensory oriented crafts or gardening, massage/self-massage, orienting to your senses, touching the ground, and so on. But I’d like to pose a question to you: when (or if) you do this, do you actually stay with the physical rather than shifting attention to the emotional/spiritual/blissful/etc? It was a bit humbling to admit that I sometimes treat physical grounding as a means to an end. Perhaps it’s my Piscean nature talking here, but I like being in that slightly altered, expansive, trancelike state. It’s a very happy, safe, and connected space for me which is why I do this work- I love trancework!!
Add to that, I have chronic pain and nerve injury so I’m also deliberately avoiding aspects of my physical sensations as a survival strategy. I’ve been approaching these practices with curiosity and a keen focus to staying with the physical in these practices. “I am here, this is my body, this is what I am feeling, these are what my senses are telling me…” and being mindful not to let the awareness drift and most importantly to notice when I’m floating towards a more in-between state. I think of this as the difference between the expansiveness of standing in a wide open field rather than being a cloud in the sky.

An unexpected exercise in finding the ground came while I was jogging(ish) in Prospect Park on a gloriously temperate 60 degree day in the middle of February. I started my run staying primarily on paved paths because the snow melt and warmer temperatures were creating extreme mud conditions. About halfway through I turned to take a different path and rather unexpectedly had a small section that was washed out with thick, dark, fragrant mud. There was no way around it so I carefully stepped through and I was taken aback by the extremely soft, even sensual quality of the ground. The smell, the yielding to my weight and “pull” of the ground around my feet created a deep feeling of connection.
As an experiment I continued to walk on the mulched and somewhat muddy paths for another mile or so, enjoying this particular quality and seeing how much I could feel into it. Let me tell you all, I was getting some looks from other folks walking around. How sad that I had not ever done this before! Instead prioritizing keeping my shoes clean or wanting to move at a faster pace… there’s a metaphor here but I don’t want to be heavy handed about it.

I remembered I used to love mud, like many children, when I was younger. Some of my fondest memories include stirring up pools of muddy water with a stick in the backyard, or sloshing around in the wet woods behind my house. In the late winter/spring of the Northeast there are ample opportunities for this activity, there is a freshness to the earth; dark, dense, and not yet bursting with life (to the naked eye). Being with those sensations, staying with the physical experience, really imbibing the environment and listening to the mixture of sounds illustrated the importance of noticing the tendency to use these practices for something…to get somewhere, to feel calm, as a brief interlude, as a brief closing ritual, rather than appreciate their full sensuous qualities.

Stuckness is protective, it keeps something in place, it prevents movement that might disturb a delicate process.  It points to the ways that we can experience flexibility without moving at all.  It reminds us that if everything was moving all the time we would feel very off balance. Stuck is good when the alternative is hurdling through space.

I’d like to invite you to consider some of your own grounding practices, and what could come from approaching with fresh eyes. Or maybe you connect deeply with this already (I take a humble bow to you!), and in turn it you could consider how this can facilitate expansion if that’s what you desire.  Maybe you are feeling the tension between letting go and starting anew, sometimes we need to stay in the unknown awhile without knowing what will come next and that’s easier said than done. 

Sometimes it’s a good thing to get stuck in the mud.

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