Thursday, May 23, 2024

Let Mother Earth Nourish You

One of my earliest memories of my mother is her sitting on the floor on a “Chatai” (Bamboo mat), cutting vegetables, mending, stitching, knitting and doing odd jobs on the floor. As a toddler I would be sitting with her on the mat. A man from south India would come to the door with the Chatais on his head every three or four months. My mother would buy a new Chatai and the old one would be given to the Mali (Gardener).  

Millions of people in India sleep on the floor and have their meals sitting cross-legged on the floor, all religious rituals are conducted sitting on the floor unless you are physically not able to sit on the ground. Ever since the beginning of Indian civilisation, we have understood the benefits of sitting directly on the floor whether grass, sand, stone connecting directly with the earth’s energy. In today’s fast paced and digitally driven world, many of us have disconnected from nature, we spend most of our days sitting on the chairs, surrounded by concrete and focused on screens. 

 The Benefits of Grounding

The west has now woken up to the benefits of connecting with the earth and call this process of sitting or lying on the ground as “grounding”. 

Everything that we knew in the yoga they now have theories for. A leading life coach (Yes, there is such a profession) admits that in our western culture we don’t have space for restoration. There are no time outs, no recess. 

When you lie flat on your back, your posture is open and relaxed. This has a calming effect on your body, whereas on a comfortable mattress which one assumes would be more conducive to relaxation, but your mind is still working.  On the floor, your mind is more attuned to what your body is feeling and less focused on your thoughts. To get comfortable on the floor it becomes necessary to focus on your body and the process of relaxation. 

In the west the concept of grounding is rooted in the belief that the earth carries a subtle energy that can positively impact on our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. By establishing a direct physical and energetic connection with the earth, we tap into this energy and experience its benefit. When we make direct contact with the earth, we absorb its free electrons which are believed to have antioxidant effects on the body. This can help neutralise free radicals and reduce inflammation leading to overall improvement in health. 

Research has shown that sitting or sleeping on the ground can have a calming effect on the nerves systems helping to reduce stress and anxiety, promote relaxation, improve sleep and even alleviate chronic pain. Sitting on the ground requires us to engage our core muscles and maintain a proper posture. This helps strengthen our back and abdominal muscles, improve spinal alignment and alleviate the strain on our neck and our shoulders caused by prolonged sitting in a chair. 


How to Ground And Reconnect with the Earth

Meditation and breathing exercises are best done seated on the ground. When you engage in meditation, bring your attention to the present moment, be aware of the sensation in your body and the feeling of the earth beneath you. Allow your thoughts to pass without any judgement. Practice deep breathing, while sitting on the ground inhale deeply and exhale slowly releasing tension and stress. Focus on the sensation of your breath and connection with the earth as you inhale and exhale. 

Go further and express gratitude to nature, for all that it does to you. The beauty of the mountains, lakes, rivers and the joy that the rain brings. Imagine the smell of the earth after the first shower. Take an imaginary walk through the forest, inhale the air. So next time, you get an opportunity, try sitting on the ground and reconnect with the earth. Embrace the simplicity and the beauty of the ground sitting. Reflect on how the earth nourishes you in ways you never thought possible and cultivate your own connection with the earth.


 A Simple Yet Powerful Practice

Not everyone will find relief on the floor, some may have physical issues that make it uncomfortable or painful to sit on the ground. In fact, many a modern day orthopaedic will advise that “Padmasan” is not good. In today’s digitalised world, it’s easy to forget our connection with nature and the earth. We spend days indoors surrounded by technology and disconnected from the natural world. Sitting on the ground offers a simple yet powerful way to reconnect with the earth’s energy and improve our wellbeing. So, the next time you have an opportunity try sitting on the ground whether its on the grass, sand, stone, allow yourself to reconnect with the earth and let it nourish you in ways you never thought were possible. We need to remind ourselves, we are not separate from nature, we are part of it. Indian civilisation has known this ever since the beginning of time.

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