By Uli Meitzner
Sometimes the best in life is free… like walking on the earth. Walking on the mother, with love and respect. Feeling ourselves in the changing seasons of her moods, the clouds, the wind, the little blades of grass and thistles peering up to us from the cracks of a neglected sidewalk…
The earth can inspire us in so many ways. It is always there. It’s our grounding, literally. When we collapse, we fall, and we land on the ground. When we get up, we get up because the earth offers us a stable base for our feet. When we walk with attention, we can notice how at each step, the earth gives us a little boost. Our whole body is designed to take this boost and walk lightly and with ease. The barefoot running movement has shown that it’s possible to run long distances without injuries; there is a tribe in Mexico where people run hundreds of kilometers, with incredible stamina and pleasure! Feeling contact to the ground is a healing and calming experience. Our head gets real when it’s grounded through the feet.
Earth… Terra… Gaia… she’s so often belittled or goes unrecognized. The layer of humus that makes plants grow is “dirt” in our modern eyes. Religion separates our earthly part from our soul, as something less valuable. “Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust…” As if our being in a mortal body somehow diminishes the miracle of life. It actually is that miracle! The earth, the soil, has healing properties. Contact with the earth boosts the immune system, and there is an energetic as well as microbiotic exchange that is very healthy for humans. I once read the story of a guy who was a bioengineer working long hours in a lab each day. He was beginning to feel more and more disconnected and depressed. One day when he was walking his dog, he had the unstoppable urge to lie down on the ground and bury his hands and face in the earth, to get his hands dirty with the soil. For the first time in months, he could feel his heart lighten and his lungs work fully again. The contact with the earth literally saved him. He later started his life over based on that experience.
Lost & Found
Through connecting with nature, we start reconnecting to ourselves. We pay attention to our body that the earth sustains in each moment. When we agree to feel whatever is there, whatever sensations, emotions, discomfort or pain, we connect to the earth in ourselves. We are made from her materials, we are like her, material bodies imbued with a divine spark, divine intelligence. We can know without knowing, or having to explain ourselves, the way that children just know. When we find her nourishing power and wisdom inside ourselves, we start to trust and relax, and our inner monologue finally shuts up.
That state though is usually only obtained by a long and concentrated effort to get back down to earth. We have split away from our bodies so long, collectively at least 1500 years, back to the time when Christianity and its hate and mistrust for the femine, the senses and the body took over Europe. And actually, still a few more thousand years before, when the great mother cults were overthrown and the mother that gave life became the monster that had to be tamed and controlled, or the passive soil receiving seeds and cultivation.
What was set up in place of the simple connection of humans with their mother were rules and abstractions, judgments and punishment, “mind over matter”. There is a story in Greek mythology that tells how we were uprooted – literally. Heracles once had to fight the giant Antaios, son of Gaia and Poseidon, earth and ocean. The giant was invincible as long as he stayed on the ground, because whenever he touched Gaia, his mother, she recharged his powers. Heracles noticed that bond and lifted Antaios high up in the air. There, away from the earth, the giant could be killed, and Heracles strangled him.
Just like this, when we are out of touch with the earth, and our bodies, and go up in the air, in our minds, we feel powerless. When we don’t put our feet on the ground, we become uprooted, an easy prey for the mind, ours and others’. We get confused by doubt, fears, insecurity and negative thoughts. We lose our orientation and the stability to stay on our course. Other people can manipulate and con us, make us feel stupid or involve us in victim games that rob us of our energy. We stay in unhealthy jobs and relationships, and situations that harm our soul.
Earthwalking is a possibility to reconnect to nature, our nature. Doing yoga is one way to come back down to earth, into the earth of our bones, flesh, and skin, if we practice it with attention and if we don’t split away from our feelings and sensations. When we connect with our pain, our heart can heal. Our salty tears can fall on the earth and it’s ok. We can laugh, we can moan or scream. It’s all good. We enter into a space where our stories don’t matter, because we are alive, and we can let the spark of life and awareness spread through our body and soul. In this space we can notice the miracle that no matter what losses, hurts and heartbreaks we’ve had, we’ve never really lost anything. We’re home.
Simple exercises for feeling boosted by the Earth
*** Do a forward bend with relaxed knees and neck. Stand hip wide, put your weight on the balls of your feet. Breathe deeply and stay in this position until your legs begin to shake. Let them shake, and relax. Feel how you can let the tension that was stuck in your legs flow into the ground. Afterwards, notice that your feet and legs have a better connection to the earth.***
*** Feet parallel to each other, lift your heels up a little and fall back on them. Do this until you feel a calming, monotonous rhythm building up, and continue some more. You will feel a boost move upward along your legs, through the pelvis and along the spine. Notice the effect on your head and mind.***
*** Stand with your feet as if you want to make a step forward. Bend your knees, then stretch them. You will feel how you get propelled forward by the ground. Repeat and then walk with that awareness. Move through your day with this.***
Uli Meitzner is a Berlin based body coach www.claimyourbody.com, a free motion martial arts and movement trainer and an astrologer with a passion for preparing delicious organic food.