Last week I went to check out an allotment that I agreed to help a friend with. She had warned me that it needs a lot of work, so I had prepared myself to be confronted by a bombsite, but it isn’t too bad. It just needs a bit of tidying up. All the beds need weeding and digging over and the shed needs a new roof, but apart from that it’s looking good. At home I have a small garden with just two beds for growing vegetables, but even so it still yielded plenty of veg for the summer. So, I’m looking forward to having much more space this year. The allotment is massive compared to my home garden so I’m expecting a massive crop this year.
Be like a Tree
Being in contact with the earth is so important for good health. You don’t have to get your hands dirty; just standing on it mindfully every now and then is good for you too. What does this mean? Try sitting in the garden, or even better, take your shoes and socks off and stand on the grass. Close your eyes, breath slowly into your belly and imagine you are a tree. Your roots are spreading deep and wide into the earth, connecting you to the planet, grounding and nourishing you. In Qi Gong this exercise is called Zhan Zhuang, or ‘Standing like a tree’. Give it a go and let me know how it makes you feel.
Don’t be put off by the cold, damp weather. Why not embrace it and enjoy it? Better than simply feeling miserable when, afterall, there is nothing you can do about the season or the weather; this is the UK! Feel the dampness on your face and the wet grass between your toes. And then go back indoors and appreciate your warm home too.
Connecting to the Earth and Heaven
The concept of Earth and grounding is fundamental to Chinese Medicine. It is central to everything. In the Five Element system it is the Earth that connects all the elements to each other. In Qi Gong it is man who connects Heaven and Earth. We need to be grounded; not only metaphorically but literally. Gravity helps of course, but we all know people who have their heads in the clouds and are ungrounded, flitting from one thing to the next. It’s important to have the creativity and freedom that comes with an attachment to the heavens of course, just don’t lose contact with the ground.
Being grounded is an essential aspect of Wing Chun and Qi Gong too. In both arts emphasis is put on the development of the horse stance, a stance used to ground oneself to generate power and stability. It’s about being as solid and immoveable as a mountain, but not totally rigid and inanimate. Mountains move, the whole Earth does in fact, we are just unaware of it! By becoming connected to the Earth, one is not only able to absorb power from it, but also transfer force into it, just like the roots of a tree.
We can also connect with the Earth through our food; not just by growing it ourselves, but by touching it, smelling it and tasting it. Recently I’ve been making my trips to the supermarket more like a meditation. I try to ignore the hubbub around me and just wander up and down each aisle, paying attention to the stuff I need. So instead of hurtling around chucking stuff into my basket and getting out as quick as I can, I take a good look at the food. I look at the vibrant colours and the different shapes. I touch it, feeling the different textures. If it’s not packaged, I smell it. I actually enjoy going shopping now! Sometimes I even smile.
If you give the grounding exercise a go, or the shopping meditation, let me know how you get on. How did it make you feel?