By Kate Kellman, MMQ
What is “grounding” and why is it so important? If you’ve ever participated in Martial Arts or Tai Chi, you already know how crucial it is to keep your center of gravity. Whenever a competitor becomes unbalanced, they are vulnerable and easily defeated by their opponent. Moving through the Tai Chi form, it is quite easy to topple forward or backward during a kick sequence if you don’t focus your weight on the appropriate foot. In Chinese Medicine, grounding is also essential, but in a much different context.
One of the basic tools I teach in my private practice in Medical Qigong to both patients and students is grounding. I refer to it as a tool because learning to stay calm and centered will help you through any life situation, enhancing health and well-being. Too often, in our society, we are riddled with anxiety and fears. When we practice being grounded before crisis strikes, stressful situations become simple challenges we flow through with ease and grace. In Taoism, the challenge for any Master is to stay calm while the mountain crumbles around him or her. Everyone knows someone who can keep their cool no matter what transpires around them. These are the heroes when disaster strikes, the people who lead others out of burning buildings or to safety during earthquakes and floods.
So, how do we stay grounded? There are several methods available. The first one is very simple. Go outside in your bare feet and walk on the Earth. Put your feet in water or swim. Sit outside in the sunshine and read a book with your feet (preferably shoeless) flat on the grass. Lean your back against a tree as you sit on the ground. Whenever we connect to the Earth’s energy, we are grounding. This is not some hokey, new age fad either – it’s science. The Earth’s electro-magnetic field vibrates at a frequency of 7.83 Hertz, often referred to as the Schumann resonances. The alpha brain waves of the body are approximately 8-12 Hertz, representing an awake but relaxed person. When we are calm and centered, we are in sync with the Earth’s heartbeat. That’s why it feels so good to be outside in nature – hiking, swimming, walking barefoot, digging our toes into the sand on a sunny beach. Mankind was grounded for most of our history, but we lost our connection to nature with the advent of rubber-soled shoes and our lifestyle change of dwelling inside buildings for most of the day.
Another way to ground is through deep breathing and by placing our hands on our lower dan tien which is right below the belly button. When we focus our breath downward, we “settle down,” or “calm down,” allowing our minds to relax and rooting to our center of gravity. In Chinese Medicine, the lower dan tien is the place of power. It is the engine that drives our human vehicles. So, anytime you feel stressed, breathe deeply and push your breath into your belly. Root your feet on the floor, even if you’re in the middle of a chaotic situation or a harried Board Meeting. By placing our feet firmly (and flatly) on the surface below us, we allow our energy to root to the Earth, even if we have layers of flooring beneath our feet. If we sit cross-legged or lean on one foot or walk on our tip-toes, we are not grounded.
These are just some tools everyone can use to be more balanced in their day-to-day lives. They are simple methods but very effective if practiced on a regular basis. It is all about focus and intention. When we become aware of our bodies – our breath, our stance, calming our minds and finding our center – then we begin the path back to a healthier, more stable existence. The more time we spend in nature, the more harmonized we become to the Earth and its natural healing effects. Many studies have been done on the benefits of grounding. Bird song has been shown to synchronize and balance the electro-magnetic field, so leave the earbuds at home when taking a walk. Fall asleep listening to the rain or the chirping of crickets. You will feel more relaxed and good health will be a natural by-product of staying grounded. Life can be experienced with serenity and joy, making it well worth the effort.
Kate Kellman is a certified Medical Qigong Therapist (MQT), studying to obtain her DMQ (Doctorate of Medical Qigong) with Dr. Ted J. Cibik, a Daoist Priest, DMQ, Chinese Physician (Zhong Yi), and Naturopathic Doctor (N.D). Dr. Cibik is a senior student of Dr. Jeffrey C. Yuen, a Daoist Master from the 88th generation of the Jade Purity Sect and the Complete Reality Dragon Gate School. Kate has a private practice in Medical Qigong Therapy at The Garden in Saratoga and teaches classes in Daoist Five Qigong Set at the Red Dragon Karate School in Ballston Spa and at The Garden. Please check the Calendar for details or her website at: www.deep-connections.com. Kate can be contacted by calling or texting (518) 775-7798 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.