As I mentioned in my last post, activities involving the feet can be beautifully grounding at this heady, busy, hot time of year. I like walking barefoot on the earth, giving myself (or have someone else give me!) a foot massage or reflexology, and using visualisations of roots sinking from my soles through the earth and deep, deep down. These simple indulgences all bring the focus to my feet and away from my head – the part of us nearest to where the sun blazes and burns away at the time of year that finds it at its strongest. These things direct energy to the base, the foundation, of my body that connects with, if you like, the physical foundation of nature. The earth feeds the plants that grow from it (many of which we eat), supports the oceans that lie on it and buildings we have made on it, is our base to walk and live on. Like a mother feeds her child; I guess hence the name “Mother Earth!”
For those that don’t like their feet being touched – and I know some don’t – a massage around the base of the spine or a hand massage could also be grounding for these areas also connect us to the physical world through sitting, doing and touching. Or gently massage above the ankles. (massaging your ankles is best avoided if there’s any chance you could be pregnant, and go gently if on your period). Spend time outside standing or walking, feeling your connection to the earth. One of my husband’s favourite things in summer is walking barefoot over a patio on a sunny day!
Of course, summer can be very hot. I write this sheltering inside from the UK’s current heatwave! Many of my health practises come from Ayurveda’s teachings, which operate on a principle of balance. Ayurveda categorises things into 3 doshas: vata (cold, light and dry like the air), pitta (hot, sharp and fluid like fire) and kapha (cool, heavy and wet, like the earth). So in summer, pitta is dominant and this can cause unwanted affects such as over-drying things (the soil around my plants, that bread I left out on the side), melting wetter things (butter!) and over-heating things (tempers, metal, car engines).
To balance hot, fiery pitta, I bring in things with cool, damp kapha qualities; eating sweet foods (naturally sweet – not sweetened with lots of refined sugar!), drinking enough water, eating salads and yoghurt, playing with water with my toddler, staying in the shade, moisturising my skin. I reduce heating foods (chilis, black pepper, coffee, chocolate) and, where possible, heating activities (vacuuming – any excuse! – computer use, strenuous activity). I try to focus the housework on activities involving water and to make time for gentle, grounding yoga and meditation.
“What exactly do people mean by grounding?” someone once asked me. Although at the time I probably waffled something vague, I’ve since thought of it like this: imagine you were selling many, many balloons held on strings on a windy day. You’re all over the place, you’re having to turn this way and that, it’s hard to get one balloon out of the bunch without letting the rest go, your arms are probably tired from holding onto all those balloons and you’re a bit overwhelmed. Then someone helps you to hold the balloon strings against the ground. You’re also holding the strings much nearer the top. You now feel more stable, supported, secure and in control. You can think straight and realise you can both use your feet to keep the balloons where they are, which is more comfortable. You feel a sense of relief, as well as awareness of yourself and your surroundings. Like a plane landing on the runway, you’re on safe ground. ♥
Strawberry lassi image thanks to Schleicher, (sxc.hu)