Grounding Yourself in a ‘World Turned Upside Down’ – Blog by Liz Lord

Grounding Yourself in a ‘World Turned Upside Down’ – Blog by Liz Lord

Liz Lord, from The MYRIAD research team and Associate Teacher for the OMC reflects on the challenges we face amid the COVID-19 pandemic and how mindfulness can help us navigate this time of uncertainty. This blog focusses on our ability to be grounded in these changing and challenging times.

The certainty of Spring

“Small anchor points of calm and wonder in nature become important in a world turned upside down” [Posted on Twitter by @RobGMacfarlane]

The past week for me has been spent working from home and I have been out walking early in the mornings to a nearby woodland. Amidst the roar of the Manchester ring road lies the most beautiful woodland, Worsley Woods. There is a tree there that has partly fallen and its branches touch the ground, reaching out to those walking by. It’s a great place to rest and has provided me with a place of calm in the midst of the busyness of life. Elsewhere in the woodland, the Spring flowers are emerging, the blossoms are bursting on the branches and dawn chorus can be deafening. They have all provided me with living proof that life is moving forward and growth is happening. The beautiful yellow daffodils, trumpeting life, are all around and seem all the more glorious this year as the fragility of life is heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During this uncertain time, when we can’t rely on many things we normally take for granted, there is one thing that is carrying on ‘business as usual’ and that is the Spring in all its glory. Taking the time to notice and appreciate the certainty of Spring, can give a sense of stability and being grounded in the middle of everything else. We can appreciate and savour these experiences, tune ourselves into nature and our place within it.  So my invitation to you is to reflect on your own ‘small anchor points of calm or wonder’ in nature or anywhere else and use these experiences and images to ground you in these uncertain times.

Pictures taken in Worsley Woods, Manchester – Spring 2020

I wanted to share with you a simple grounding practice that I find particularly helpful. For those who haven’t tried mindfulness before, read through the guidance and have a go. There is no right or wrong way to do this. Be kind and curious to what you experience…. It may take a few minutes or you may decide to spend longer on each part, it’s up to you.

Firstly, take a position that helps you to be awake and alert, this may be sitting in a more upright position, with your feet flat on the floor. It may also be helpful to close your eyes or keep your gaze down onto your knees.

Then spend a few moments tuning in to how you are feeling right now. How is your mind? Is it busy with thoughts or calm. How is your body? Is it feeling heavy or tired or light and awake. Whatever you notice is your present experience of the moment. Be gentle with yourself, especially if you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Just ask yourself, where can I feel these things in my body right now?

Take your attention down to your feet, as if you are pointing a torchlight to them, feeling them firmly on the ground and noticing any sensations there.  Perhaps going from one part you’re a foot, say the toes, and moving your attention to your heel and then back again. What do you notice? Spend as little or as long noticing any sensations here.

Now move your attention to your breath, if that feels ok to do, and notice the ebb and flow of the breath as it enters and leaves your body. As you breathe in, do you notice any movements in your chest or your tummy area? And how does the out breath feel. Spend a few moments resting your attention on the flow of the breath. If you notice your mind wandering away, like all minds do, then gently bring your attention back to rest on the breath.

As you are sitting here breathing, bring to mind your own ‘anchor point of calm.’ This may be a place or something from nature or a person who really helps you to feel grounded and secure. Notice any sensations that come up for you as you bring this to mind. Spend time with these thoughts and sensations as you sit here, breathing. Experience the sensations that come from feeling grounded and anchored and rest your attention here for a few moments or longer if you like.

Then for the final few moments of the practice, widen your attention out to experience your whole body sitting on the chair, expanding your awareness to the space around you, staying here for a few moments before you open your eyes.

You may want to reflect on the following questions. Do I feel more grounded now than before the practice? If yes, what helped me to feel secure and calmer and will this help me in the coming minutes hours and days as I navigate new routines and uncertainty.  Can I use this short practice throughout my day, wherever I am, to steady me as my ‘world is turned upside down’