Updated: Jun 16, 2020
I've never actually walked on a live volcano, in the midst of its mystical & petrifying dismantling, but I've been feeling those kinetics a lot lately. Barriers, symbols, conventions and relationships, ideas, laws, protections and illusions, all falling and fragmenting around us. Underneath us. Our foundation, chosen or not, is a factor we tend to ignore until it's challenged. And this understructure - where our individual and collective perspectives on race, dignity, power and justice are anchored - is in tectonic shift. So every day I find myself asking how to keep walking the path, how to stay stable with resilience, not rigidity, how to ground myself when the ground itself feels unsettling.
Birds are great teachers. I've watched this hummingbird in a wind tunnel to see if humans can take some cues from it, and there are great lessons here. First, it's clear that maintaining balance is a dynamic process. There's no one balance that's "achieved", it's a constant unfolding. We all make countless microadjustments, and occasionally some important macroadjustments. Animals do it with gorgeous efficiency, which I think comes from their full presence and pure connection with Source energy. We have a lot more conditioning, so we have to work harder to make the motions that count. But we also get numerous chances to experiment and refine. I'm learning to think less about getting into a position and holding it, and more about being conscious of how I feel in each moment, discovering the wisdom my body and heart have to teach me, and building a flexible library of moves that I can temper as needed. Not easy, as I'm used to just exhausting myself by trying actions that "should" work, but just don't - for me. I think it's helpful to remember that we're programmed with unique missions and styles, and if we honor that we find our flow with less struggle.
Second, keeping your eye on the prize makes all the other movements organize around a critical center. There's nothing stopping that hummingbird from getting that nectar. For my part, I must be connected with and guided by Spirit. That's what feeds every part of my life, and I will do anything to keep that tether vital, to get to that juice. As Lindsay Mack says, this kind of work isn't cute, or comfortable, and I've most definitely asked myself many times if I'm strong enough to live this way, or if it's worth it. But the point for all of us isn't that our guiding principles will be perfect - just that we know them to be our truth. We can focus on them because our heart and soul long to do so, and they deliver strength and resolve we'd never otherwise have. That's part of how we stabilize, flying through the maelstrom.
Another natural teacher: plants. In yoga, we often use the phrase "root down to rise up" to encourage a steady base built from the ground that allows you to reach towards the sky or lengthen with more freedom and extension. If you watch spinach grow, the roots and the sprouts are such an impeccable example of this. The human translation has several forms I can see. We can spend actual time in our bare feet, feeling agency and energy in all the different parts of our feet and how they meet the ground. Intentionally connecting w/how much support the earth gives us to move in all of our many directions. We can run. We can visualize, imagine or feel roots dropping from our bodies into the center of the earth every morning, every night, or whenever we're feeling shaky or anxious. We can always be an apprentice on the yoga mat, where isometric push-pulls have been written into the DNA of balance and practice for millennia. And what we get out of those actions is a physical and energetic embodiment of gravity. Our bodies are far more honest than our minds - and we can use our senses and our relationship to this world to really inhabit the space we're in, and feel better doing it.
Not that the benefits stop there. I've realized perhaps the greatest harvest to reap from being grounded is that when your bedrock is secure, you have the strength to be compassionate. To consider someone else's reality, and what they might need to heal or grow. To be vulnerable and listen more than you talk, or open your heart to someone who's hurt you, or is just hurting. To step beyond your ego into the wavelength where we're not separate. You can actually show up in the chaos and give to yourself and others with kindness and authenticity. And you can persevere through expansiveness and love rather than fear and domination.
We're going to keep experiencing upheaval in this cleansing and creative evolution, and I think that's worth accepting. You may not feel ready to take on new practices or frames of reference. But I've discovered that we don't need to feel ready. We can just choose. Choose to ask for help and support to make this happen. Choose the early morning yoga class one day a week over 45 minutes of IG scrolling. Choose the causes of happiness and peace in your own life, and we will all be better for it. We don't have to know each other to affect each other with our actions and thoughts, as we're learning in such a real and raw way right now. It's all of us or none of us in this dance. And sure-footed, we will find the way, together, to keep going.