For a long time, I understood “being grounded” as positive. I aspired to “feeling grounded”. For me, it represented a feeling of being solid, sure, connected with a sense of integrity and wholeness.
The irony of being grounded is that this groundedness is rooted in groundlessness–a deep understanding that there, in fact, no solid ground at all. This groundless form of groundedness allows us to experience life beyond the labels we claim, answers we assert, forms we grasp. Grounded in groundlessness offers presence, aliveness, vastness.
My mom is ill, really ill–one piece of the kaleidoscope of life these days that is shifting in uncertainty. We’re traveling tomorrow to Mayo Clinic for a week seeking answers. Seeking clarity. After all, we all need answers. And yet, I’ve learned that we can go and seek while also not hoping for any real certainty. Because the reality is, there are no solid answers. For anything. This might sound dark. I’m sure it does. But this is truth. And like all truth, accepting it is…liberating.
And that liberation allows me to be present with her, my family, my self as we move through this uncertainty.
Pema Chodron offers, “As we practice moving into the present moment this way, we become more familiar with groundlessness, a fresh state of being that is available to us on an ongoing basis. This moving away from comfort and security, this stepping out into what is unknown, uncharted, and shaky–that’s called liberation.”
What we’ve been trained to think of as comfort and security is a lie. Knowledge, truth, control–these are lies that we desperately grasp out of fear and need to secure solid ground beneath us. And these lies are stealing our precious lives from us, pulling us away from the present moment. And this present moment is all we have.
And in moments like this, with my mom, I want to savor every one.
So, I’m headed to Mayo with my mama, and no ground in sight.
when we truly open our minds and hearts, we become both nothing and everything all at once as we re-member we are part of the whole body of creation. when we experience this re-membering, it is like an old familiar place that lives deep down in our bones, long forgotten: we are but threads in a rich and vast tapestry of life, connected and held by all the universe.
and while this practice belongs to us, we have lost it. white supremacy, imperialism, patriarchy have stolen it from us and replaced this way of being with patterns of domination that are now in the DNA of our living. we must unlearn those patterns–notice them and then disrupt them–so that we can re-member.
re-membering is both born through and annihilated in relationship. relationships offer both the key to our liberation and the key to our oppression. as one of my teachers, meg wheatley has shared: “we are not broken people. it’s our relationships that need repair. it’s relationships that bring us back to health, wholeness, holiness.”
this weekend i participated in an intensive designed to build an intentional community of practice. coming together with other humans to unlearn these patterns of domination so that we could re-member…was holy. there was beautiful stumbling at first but within the container we created, there was slow and definitive movement as we practiced the dance of being that allows for the wholeness and re-membering we all seek.
i just love this prayer by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his daughter, the Rev. Mpho Tuto that inspired us in our practice:
Can you hold that space open for me? Can you keep your questions and suggestions and judgements at bay? Can you wait with me for the truths that stay hidden behind my sadness, my fear, my forgetting, and my pain? can you just hold open a space for me to tell my story?
i chose openness. i want to re-member. i seek liberation.
It’s a busy, chaotic time. Constant and jarring change. Our world is increasingly complex and it seems impossible to keep up with all the moving parts and pieces. As soon as a decision it made, a plan confirmed, everything changes. As a friend and colleague recently declared as we were doing org leadership planning,
“It’s like we’re just waiting for a shit show.”
There’s a bunch about the impact of this ever-shifting state of being on our lives and worlds that I’ve been grappling with these days. One thing I’m noticing is the tendency to close down and tense up in the face of that shifting. I see this on many levels.
I’ve been practicing noticing this response in my body. Tension rising, jaw clenching, muscles constricting. My body literally draws in on itself when experiencing groundlessness or uncertainty. My mind in turn also reacts, speeding up and racing. As I’ve learned to notice my internal response, I’ve begun practicing different methods. Breathing deeply. Loosening my grip. Moving my body, even in the slightest way. Honestly, the act of noticing alone has an impact…maybe noticing is enough to shift my stance.
This process of closing in/shutting down does not serve living systems. And we are, in fact, living systems interconnected with all other living systems. This interlocking web of life and energy is threatened when a part of it closes down. So when I close in on myself and disconnect from those around me–even from my whole self–this harms the larger living system.
Ironically, in these times that compel us to react in defense are the very times we should open. Openness gifts us information, communication, connectedness…life.
By opening, we adapt and grow.
All living systems exemplify this, which is why they are living. Those systems–individuals, organizations, social–that fail to open, die. It is is that simple.
So today, on a zoom call with organizers and activists who together are building the plane while we are flying it (who isn’t these days?), I chose life. And opened myself up instead of digging in my heels with my own agenda and schemes. I literally made that decision multiple times. Let it go, Amy.