trusting uncertainty

I trust what this body knows
breathing in, breathing out
the way home.

I trust the ground, which I can stand upon–
the earth that rises to meet my feet
and gives gently beneath my weight.

And I trust that ground which I cannot stand upon–
the falling away that everything returns to.

~ Oren Sofer

This week and last I am doing my final round of substitute yoga teaching at my local studio–the last because, in a month, we’ll be moving to the Pacific NorthWest!

I always try to align my yoga teaching with the cycle of the moon. In this way, our practice is about more than being flexible, or strong, or having better balance, but also about listening to and aligning with deeper, natural cosmic processes that we are part of, whether we bring our conscious awareness to them or not…

The first week of subbing was the week of the waning moon–the peak of energy at full moon past, falling toward new moon. We practiced feeling the ground with our body and breath, and inhaling this grounded energy up through the body, we also allowed it to rise to meet us, rising us up to connect with sky energy.

Throughout the practice, we continually returned to this rooted and rising awareness, connecting earth and sky in our bodies.

This week of subbing, it’s New Moon week (June 3rd)–the week of rest, and preparing the ground for new seeds to grow.

Our practice is focusing on trusting the ground that rises up to meet our bodies and not as actively rising up to the sky. We move more slowly, we spend more time on the ground, we spend more time returning and resting.

This is also the stage
Dave and I are in with
our huge moving project.

The peak was a few weeks back when we loaded the truck, working with on- and off-schedule contractors to get our house ready to be staged while we were away, driving half of our Minnesota home to our new home in Washington State.

Since then, we’ve been coming down, back to ground.

Staying connected to breath and ground sustained us (among other things), and now we can consciously follow, as much as we can, the call to return to deeper ground.

We return to life-sustaining rhythms of longer morning practice time, to embodiment practices that remind us of the body’s natural intelligence, to cooking more wholesome and healing meals that nourish and sustain our animal bodies…

And, over and over again, we practice

“trust[ing] that ground which
[we] cannot stand upon–
the falling away
that everything returns to.”

For us, this means continually seeing how we so humanly reach for habits to shield ourselves from the uncertainty, the unpredictability of the process.

Over and over again, we find ourselves grasping at ways to make life more predictable instead of living in the openness of not knowing–the not-knowing of how the appraisal will go, the not-knowing of how the final loading and moving will go, the not-knowing of how we will find our belonging in a new community and a new land.

Buddhist monk Pema Chodron says it this way:

“We become habituated to reaching for something to ease the edginess of the moment. Thus we become less and less able to reside with even the most fleeting uneasiness or discomfort.” (from Comfortable with Uncertainty, p.55)

Out of well-practiced habit, we reach for certainty!

    • In the pleasure we know we’ll get from the perfect dark chocolate (me) or the perfect ale (Dave);
    • In the safety we feel if we create a false sense of control by over-thinking and over-planning the way we think our move should go,
    • In the comfort of weaving our old stories back together again–I’m just a One who needs a certain level of organization… or I’m just a Six who can’t stand this level of unpredictability… 

When we catch these avoidance strategies, we practice, yet again, “trust[ing] that ground which [we] cannot stand upon–the falling away that everything returns to.”

That doesn’t mean we completely drop all our helpful coping habits–we’re fully human; so, sometimes, yes; sometimes, no…

But we engage them with awareness and less unconscious belief that they provide the ground of certainty.

For we know that the true certainty,
the true ground
is being able to stand
(and move and sit and rest)
with whatever life is bringing–
with the unknowing,
with the uncertainty,
and with the unpredictablity

Here, in touch with this ground–the ground of being–we find an open, spacious freedom to respond openly and freshly to whatever happens. In each moment, we can choose to return to rest in this. Over and over again.

How do you work with uncertainty?

Letting Pattern Keeper Guide

In preparing for my upcoming SoulCollage Facilitator’s Training, I have been rereading SoulCollage Evolving by Seena Frost.

She includes a long list of archetypes that may be guiding our individual lives—Great Mother, Warrior, Creator, Healer, Compassion, Shaman, King, Dreamer… There are so many unconscious patterns that weave our lives into the Greater Story!

In this list I found one new to me—one that I realize has been a primary guide for me as an Enneagram type One:

Pattern Keeper

This archetype, when in shadow and overdone, forces me into rigid rules about how things should be done—from organizing clothes, to making beds, to where to put the dishes, to how to behave…

But that’s just the shadow side.

When she is allowed to flow freely, she is very creative!

  • She intuitively knows how things fit together.
  • She sees, honors, and respects how things belong.
  • She constantly looks for and apprehends the deeper patterns, the natural harmony of things together, of beings together.

We are getting ready to move to the Pacific Northwest this summer, so this is a perfect time for her to come out to play!

Recently, she’s been helping me to dance these patterns:

  • The patterns of how to pack, let go of, and move things so that we can set our Minnesota house up for staging;
  • The patterns of understanding in what order things to do things so we are ready for each contractor to come in and finish up the home reno work in time;
  • The patterns of the new ways of living we will be moving into, so I can let go of things we won’t need.

If I let her,

She helps me to keep, to see,
and to participate in weaving
the patterns while staying in touch
with the greater pattern of life.

She helps me to understand how this moving pattern we are in exists side-by-side with the pattern of my relationship with myself, with Dave and friends, with my work, with my greater living and wholeness.

If I forget this, other fragmented parts like the Pusher or Perfectionist or Inner Critic run the show, without seeing the wholeness, hyper-focusing only on one pattern right in front of them!

And when they do this, there can be some rough-going… (Just ask Dave! 😊)

I realized the other day, that one way to keep the pattern and stay with the wholeness of the full tapestry Pattern Keeper weaves is to keep connected to the natural, rhythmic pattern of my heart.

According to HeartMath, the heart is the pattern keeper for the whole body.

The body and brain rely on the beating of the heart. In fact, the heart will keep beating with no input from the brain at all!

When we experience uplifting emotions such as appreciation, joy, care, and love, the heart rhythm pattern becomes highly ordered, looking like a smooth, harmonious wave, a coherent heart rhythm pattern. 

It sounds to me like this is the rhythm of emotions belonging together…

So, if I stay connected in love, gratitude, and appreciation, instead of pushing, criticizing, and perfecting, my heart prepares the soil for Pattern Keeper to work through me, synchronizing the autonomic nervous system and the body’s systems for greatest harmony and functioning. YAY!

This is also the secret of Feminine Flow!

If we stay with our heart, with our relatedness, with our loving connections to ourselves, our friends, and our family, everything works better, and the patterns we follow and create reflect this awareness of the whole.

If I follow the PIG (Perfectionist-Pusher-Inner Critic Gang), I cut off from my heart, moving into a wounded Masculine, head-centered, rigid or idealized structure instead. A far cry from a living, breathing, beating, weaving pattern.

Staying with Pattern Keeper’s heart-relatedness can also open me up to the “things” I am handling—sorting, organizing, packing—as not just “things,” but forms of existence in their own right, in different physical expressions.

What I usually think of as “things” or non-sentient objects, are also forms of being. While I usually take them for granted as simply useful items for housekeeping, life-management, auto-repair, etc., they are also made of the stuff of the universe.

And as I sort, pack, or find a new place for each of these items, I understand that each has its own need to belong to the greater pattern.

When each has its own place of belonging, its own home, it’s not out of place. It is part of the greater pattern of home, and, right now, of moving.

So, as I continue this intense process of sorting and moving,

may I stay connected to Pattern Keeper—

within my beating heart, within my creative hands, within my kind and loving eyes, within all my relationships,
within the whole universe.

How is Pattern Keeper manifesting in your life?

waves welcome me

Friend, our closeness is this.
Anywhere you put your foot
Feel me in the firmness under you.
~ Rumi

On vacation at Mar de Jade (Mexico) two weeks ago, my morning meditation was being on the beach with the rising tide of waves.

Usually, I was the first one down to walk on the sand, at the intersection of land and sea, contemplating ocean, contemplating waves.

I didn’t do a formal sit. The ocean called me.

I slowly wandered and stood facing the ocean, letting the waves take me. Waves filling up, coming to fullness, to readiness, then spilling over to give, to surrender, to gift the land with their essence, their “waveness.”

Breathing with the waves, taking them in with eyes, heart, body, bodysoul, in awe, in beauty, in wonder.

Touched by the unseen shaping guiding their rhythm and form, a circular flow of rising and forming and breaking and ebbing–a yang giving way to yin–a giving way to giving again. A cycle of giving and receiving, of generativity and rest, of expansion and contraction.

A circle of wholeness, of life.

Foreign territory to me, a land-dweller who grew up in the country, far from the ocean.

I felt a deep, interior call to be with her immensity, her power, her being.

Every morning for about an hour, I would join the confluence of land and sea, waiting for the rising tide to come and splash my feet, my legs, my clothes.

One morning, when Dave joined me, he said the waves were greeting me. Yes, I smiled, it feels like this.

I was being welcomed by ocean waves–Good morning, Katy–let me touch and taste and kiss and splash you in greeting. Thank you for being with me.

I walked and stood in the waves, feeling their wetness, their saltiness, their tickly touch, their caress, and their pull out to sea while my feet were buried in wet sand, holding me on land, and singing my human greeting to them:

Waves, waves, waves, ocean waves,
Great Mother’s waves, welcome me.

Touch and be touched, meet and greet,
welcome the mystery.

Human and wave, matter and sea,
life, love, and me.

Back in Minnesota, I’m not barefoot all day, not feeling the touch of waves and sand so immediately.

But I am feeling the touch of this bioregion–the greeting of Spring–in the earlier light kissing my face as I awake, in the scent of wet earth after the melting of snow, in the warming touch of air on my body, in increasing liquid birdsong.

In the firmness of life continuing to hold me and support me here in this precious eairth.*

How about you?

How are you greeting and being greeted this season?

How do you feel the firmness of life, or what Rumi calls “the Friend,” under your feet, supporting you?

* earth and air as one being = eairth

nurturing & greeting rituals

Image by SofieZborilova on Pixabay

Imagine coming into the presence of a baby. (Or, if it’s easier, a baby animal.)

Eyes round and open, she is awake and alert, expressions flitting across her face.

Would you ignore this luminous presence?

Or would you take in her precious being with an attuned, loving, perhaps even grateful greeting? Perhaps some sweet words, a higher-pitched, maybe even cooing, voice, a soothing tone…

In so doing, you acknowledge that her presence affects you. That she is here and you are here. That you are connected with her. In a way that feels nourishing and contactful to both of you.

What if this were the way we lived our lives?

In contact with each other, with the earth, with the other-than-human beings, and with the rhythm of our lives, all the time?

What would change?

I know I would feel more open, more grateful, more awake, more alive… more present.

From what I understand, our indigenous ancestors lived in this way—in deep contact with themselves, each other, and the earth—and from this deep experience of kinship, in deep gratitude.

Our Native American brothers and sisters, indigenous to North America, continue to carry this relationship of kinship, of respect and gratitude into our modern times. They remind us of what is possible.

As you know, I’m all about practicing presence!

It’s my tagline, afterall: “practice presence for life.” And I’ve written a whole e-book about small, doable rituals you can incorporate into your daily life to feel more present.

But I think there is something else I’m exploring here.

It is what all my presence practice rituals are pointing toward. Like the Buddhist story of the finger pointing to the moon, we don’t want to get fixated on the finger, but to focus our gaze on the moon.

All my presence rituals are meant to support a dropping into this deeper contactful presence.

So, what is presence, anyway?

Right now, I am experiencing it as a full-bodied, full-souled contact with myself and “the other.”

And when I feel it, I feel grateful. Presence and gratitude go hand in hand.

Since many of us don’t often get the chance to interact with a baby—human or animal—how about practicing with an alive being you connect with daily?

    • A partner or child
    • A pet or plant
    • Some other being outside—the snow (a good choice this winter in MN!), the sun, the moon, a tree, or a mountain?

Find a specific living being—human or otherwise—and let that being teach you how to be fully present. (You might also find some of my other presence practices/rituals help prepare you for this. Poetry is one of my favorites, so here’s one:)

Praying by Mary Oliver

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

Here are a few suggestions* for getting started:

    • Open all your senses to this being—sight, sound, taste, scent, touch. And keep returning to your senses when your mind sidetracks you back into thoughts. Take this being in as fully as you can.
    • Receive how their presence affects your whole bodysoul—body, heart, mind, soul. You might experience it as pleasant or unpleasant. Continue to drop thought and come back to body and heart, in particular.
    • Make some sound—words or otherwise—to express your experience. It might be joyful or sweet, or you might feel sad or angry or confused. Express whatever it is with sound.
    • Notice how you feel nurtured having greeted this being.
    • Take some time to receive any greeting in return.
    • Then thank the being for this contact that brings you here, in touch with yourself and the living web of relationship all around you. Use words or sounds or movement or gestures and keep coming back to your body and heart.

Let’s close with a nurturing and greeting ritual:

Place your hands in prayer position in front of your heart with me.

As we bow our heads to our hearts….

We are bowing to ourselves for practicing.

We are bowing to each other for practicing together.

We are bowing to the earth as the ground of our practice.


* After writing this, I realized how influenced I was by the recent work I have been practicing. You can find a similar practice in Soulcraft by Bill Plotkin.

I also want to credit the phrase “nurturing and greeting rituals” as originally from Erik Erickson as “daily rituals of nurturance and greeting,” which I found in Dolores LaChapelle’s book Sacred Land, Sacred Sex, Rapture of the Deep. She uses it not only in the realm of humans, but to include all of the natural world. (p. 170+)


Remember by Joy Harjo

from She Had Some Horses

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
are you.
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.

yes, yes, yes

The sky holds our precious nourishment—air that is inspiration.

The moon recently made her mysterious beauty known with the lunar eclipse on January 20th.

The sun accompanies us every day, rebirthing our world—you might try greeting her in the morning and saying farewell at night.

Your mother and father, regardless of all they did and did not do, created you and brought you into this amazing, interconnected, and life-giving planet earth.

the earth. the earth. the earth.

This whole poem is about the earth.

What is your relationship with the skin that you are?

The plants, trees, and animals that live with us and give us life.

Have you talked with them recently?

The elements—earth, wind, fire, water—all the elements within you, creating you, living you.

How are you guided by them, birthed by them?

“The ageless intercourse between the body
and the earth—this co-evolution—
has shaped the tissues and organs
of our very earthly organism…”

~ David Abrams in Becoming Animal, p. 73

In our human-animal nature–

We are alive poems.

We are alive patterns.

We are alive eairth* in human form.

How are you living
this great poem?

Serene Alchemist of the Wild

Serene Alchemist of the Wild, she whispers into the circle of women at Women’s Temple, looking straight at me. Yes, the women nod, it’s my temple name.

These women don’t know me. We have just spent about an hour dancing and practicing in circle together, but we don’t know each other outside of this. Or do we?

I left Women’s Temple that night wondering about this name. It seemed so mysterious, yet so fitting. So big, yet so presumptuous.

I wrote it on the top of the full-length mirror in my room in red white board marker. I read it from time to time.

Now, 4-5 years later, I am claiming this name as my phrase to live into for this New Year of 2019.

Serene Alchemist of the Wild

I have not always been a serene alchemist of the wild, but rather a lion tamer, a domesticator, a perfecter, a fixer, a manager of all things wild. It has been my job, especially as a Self-Pres type One, to make things proper and right and good. Wild was not that.

Wildness had no choice but to go underground.

It was OK for those trees out there to be wild, and those squirrels racing around, and those rabbits that try to get into my garden, and nature lavishly abundant in the countryside, but not me and not things around me and not anything that I could get my hands on, that I could fence in or fence out…

And serene I was not. I was serious. I was stern. I was carefully contained. I was—yes, truthfully—at times rigid. I was often frustrated that so much wildness was taking over and needed managing, that so much was “not right.” And I needed to fix it.

practice makes perfect

I did transform things. I have always had a knack for improving things, for making beauty, for creating order and goodness out of the raw materials at hand. But the transforming was often fueled with distress and frustration within me and had that effect on anyone in my trajectory…

And there was often not much fluidity, but more forcefulness, pushing against the river to try to get it to flow better… I had ideals, perfect ideas in my mind of how things SHOULD be, and I tried to reach them and to make things and people around me live up to them as well.

Quite unconsciously, I had bought into the “habit of dominion” (from Nora Murphy’s book White Birch, Red Hawthorn). The patriarchal culture I was born into that values using people, animals, things, and nature (a thing) to get, first and foremost, our superior human “needs” met also taught me how to express my type One tendencies. I learned early on how to be an active doer in the world, a subject, not an object, that acts on other human and non-human objects to satisfy my separate “improving” and “righting” self.

This separation of us and our superior needs from the rest of life is how, on a small but infinitely multiplying scale, we continue our habit of dominion—over those less economically stable than us, over native peoples, over nature and the earth. How we glean the goods, the profit, the resources we “need” at the expense of human and non-human “others.”

In my small case, for example, I assumed that the separate me knew better how things “should” be—better than my husband or even the plants growing outside. And I imposed my ideas on them, not taking theirs seriously, if taking them into account at all.

How do you continue the “habit of dominion” to get what you,
as a separate self, think you need
(quiet, praise, love, safety, etc.)?

Cut to now. A new time. A time of transition and wonder and freshness.

Winter Solstice and Christmas herald the rebirth of light. The New Year creates a fresh start, recommitment to a new vision of living and promise of a huge relocation to Washington state with my husband, literally a new life opening up.

And a new relationship to what I now recognize as my soul’s calling—

Serene Alchemist of the Wild

It is stunning to me to view my life through this lens—to see how my spiritual practice, my re-training as an interfaith minister, laughter yoga leader, holistic coach, yoga and women’s work teacher… how all of this has been part of the unfolding of this deeper soul’s calling.

I am much more serene.

Like the trees that bend and bow in storms or ice, that let rain wash over them and funnel it down to their roots, I am coming to a much deeper sense of calm, of contentment, of easeful equanimity amidst the “Sturm und Drang” of life.

“In the Virtue of Serenity, there is no feeling
of effort or of striving. We are soothed and soothing.
We flow from one experience into the next,
feeling calm and balanced,
regardless of the ups and downs of life.”

(Understanding the Enneagram, Riso & Hudson, p. 64)

And Serenity is the Virtue for type One (those women didn’t know I was a One)—it is the specific grace of the heart that my One soul learns as all that fixing energy dissolves, allowing me to be at peace and at home in life exactly as it is, unfolding now, and now, and now…

“The Alchemist takes our pain and turns it into compassion
for ourselves and for each other… the Alchemist spins
our fear into love and our pain into prayer.”

(Sweat Your Prayers, Gabrielle Roth, p. 189, 190)

The Alchemist trans-forms, shapeshifts the seeming dross, pain, fear and dis-ease of life into shining, precious gold, fierce, radiant beauty, and deep, rich Love—within ourselves and through us within those with whom we share the journey.

Them’s big shoes to fill!!

But we don’t do this alone—it is not a separate “I” that trans-forms me or you. It is God/dess within, True Nature within that shapeshifts and spins our lives into a healing prayer.

We orient to this continual “optimization of being” with our lives—by what we take in through our senses, consciously and unconsciously. Just like an Oak tree receives nourishment through sun, rain, soil, micro-organisms, and its connections to other plant and tree-life to grow into its unique form as White, Red, Black, Pin, or Burr Oak (the familiar species here in Minnesota), so do we receive constant nourishment from outside and inside. From our relationships with people, animals, sun, moon, stars, trees, animals, plants, birds, and non-human others as well as our inner relationship with ourself and God/dess, to become, to trans-form and shapeshift into Who we are.

Serene Alchemist of the Wild

Which brings me to the WILD!!

instinctual body

The dynamic, instinctual, primal life pulse within us all that keeps us as human animals alive on this planet—that cannot be separated from our wild soul’s calling to BE who we are—wild child and all. That spark of the Divine that lives within and as all of nature, including humans and wants to express and grow and heal and BE you and me.

This wild life force participates in the ever-dynamic flow of Being that optimizes naturally by coming into relationship with all that is around it. It comes into a shape within which it is held without being trapped, which gives it form, like the banks give form to the flowing river as well as respond to its flow.

This shaping is not perfecting or domesticating, but a natural response to participating in relationship, a dynamic responding to life. There is a trusting of the wild pulsation, the impulse within which gives birth to a new form, a new shape, a new unfoldment.

I finally understand how necessary it is to give each part of me a home—to welcome all the wildness in. The too big parts, the critical parts, the angry parts, the grieving parts, the fearful parts, the wounded parts, the over-indulging parts—all our wildness must be welcomed home within.

No part excluded. All Welcomed. Accepted. Loved. Seen. Understood. With compassion, gentleness, kindness, and Love.

“I see you,” say the African Bushmen as they greet each other, responding with “I am here.” (The Book of Awakening, Mark Nepo, p. 428)

From this place of full acceptance of our wildness, the individual spark of the Divine within can continue its journey of expression in this world.

Who knows how that wildness will shapeshift and trans-form when it is held in Love, not forced to be other than it is?

Who knows how the passion and juicy life-force energy will radiate in our lives when we are not trying to change it, shut it down, tame it?

Serene Alchemist of the Wild

Serene Alchemist--crpd-1200x

I accept you as my soul’s calling for 2019.

I am willing to grow with, unfold in, shapeshift and trans-form into who this soul invitation calls me to be.

How about you?

How is your soul calling you as we enter into 2019?

How will you live into your soul’s invitation?

Presence Including

Inhale. Sense of self.

Exhale. Compassion.

~ Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening, p. 198

Inhaling, feeling the back of my heart, my root, my feet, my sense of self.

Exhaling, allowing my heart to soften and open, to include others in a wide, compassionate embrace.

This is one of the conundrums of the spiritual path.

How do I stay connected to an inner, deeper sense of self–to the me that got hidden under the surface-layer facade of acceptability:

  • who got shut down when she was too loud
  • who held her tongue when she wanted to speak her truth
  • who said yes when she meant no
  • who yearned for loving contact with her parents and friends and lovers so desperately that she covered up her own needs and her own inner self to be acceptable and loved, to survive…

How do I do this AND open, mindfully,
safely, curiously to include you–
without losing me?

Because, if contact with my inner self is lost, there is no-one home to be in contact with you.

There are so many practices that can support this beautiful, meaningful work of coming home to ourselves and opening to others. For today, let’s keep it simple and try breathing together.

the heart doesn’t try

I’ve been a practicer all my life…

I’ve always been aware of how much there is to learn, to know, to grow into, to embody.

And I’ve felt that if I just…

  • learn how to listen more openly,
  • or understand the relationship between my inner child and my inner rebel more deeply,
  • or up my game with my exercise,
  • or get better at remembering to ask for what I need in the moment,

… then all will be well.

As if there is some happy ending—and I will finally get there through all my practice.

I’m finding that while it’s true that learning new, skillful ways of using my mind, heart, and body have opened me to more happiness, there is no ultimate happiness out there somewhere, that I can land in, stay in, and own.

I heard Terry Patten speak on a Shift Network interview the other day and he said something that is still unfurling inside me:

“The Heart doesn’t try.
It is what it is.”

“The Heart doesn’t try.”

A friend on facebook said she was looking for a reorientation to her spiritual practice this summer, wanting it to be “easy breezy.” I bet the Heart knows how to do this.

Just be.


Let the breeze blow, touch us, affect us.


“It is what it is.”

Terry went on further to say something like, as we attune to the Heart, we relax fully into the moment and are OK with what is.

Even in the midst of our practicing, there is a place for rest and relaxation.

For being with what is.

For being OK with what is right here, right now.

This gives us a sense
of wholeness, of beingness,
right in the middle of life.

Any time we are able to simply be, with feeling-sensing-consciousness, we are reaping the benefits of our practice, simply receiving the grace of life.

This Heart knowing comes forward to meet us without our striving, efforting, or interference.

When I redid my logo, I tried to capture this by adding the tag line, practice presence for life.

Let’s remember that in all of our practicing, we need to also make time to drop the effort and be. To allow ourselves to sense and feel and be with life as it is unfolding in and through and as us.

God is now
Where your soul belongs, too.

~ Gunilla Norris

Grounding–yin or yang?

Exploring and deepening my connection to the earth has been a big part of my journey over the years.

I’ve always felt grounded. People have commented on my solidity, my steadiness, my ease with the physical world. Partners have found my presence stabilizing and gravitated toward me for this. Clients, too.

And I have always felt relatively steady under stress.

I get stressed like anyone else, but it doesn’t usually unground me in the same way—I don’t get flighty, distracted, or visibly anxious. I tend to just buckle down and take care of business, perhaps clenching my teeth a bit or tightening up my jaw and shoulders…

My feet are very wide and ground into the earth. I go barefoot a lot in all seasons but winter.

I love the feeling of my feet and my hands in the earth.

I’ve always been more in touch with the physicality of living—with wood and stone, food and drink, paper and pencil—than with feeling energy or stepping out of my body. I haven’t wanted to. I like being in earth in my body. I feel real.

Nonetheless, I seem to have been invited to a next round of grounding exploration, to a deepening of my embodied presence.

And I’m trying to understand how it relates to my inner experience of already feeling grounded.

I’m wondering if there are two types of feeling grounded—a more yin and a more yang grounding.

If I think of it this way, then what I am cultivating is yin grounding.

I know how to be steady, solid, and stable in my doing and support of others. What I don’t know how to do very well is to release, sink, surrender, drop into the ground, and just be.

For the first time in 30+ years, I was drawn last year to engage in some vocal coaching, in order to access more of my voice, in particular, the more earthy qualities.

As I explore what it means to bring more grounded presence to my voice, I find it is the yin ground that is missing. I can’t open the low part of my range without relaxing and releasing. The vocal folds need to, literally, be more relaxed to vibrate more slowly and access the lower tones!

My body has also let me know, through a series of aches, pains, and minor ailments, that I need to learn to find yin ground in my pelvis as well. I am learning to sink, to drop down, to release held tension in the exercises my PT gives me and in the holistic pelvic care I have recently embarked on. It seems I need to learn more about presence here, too, in order to release pelvic tension and realign my pelvis and keep my pelvic floor healthy, flexible, and resilient.

Unfortunately, I can’t make yin ground happen. Heaven knows, I’ve tried!!

And it seems my yang ground
can’t create yin ground.

So, I practice.

Exhaling to release held tension in pelvis, pelvic floor, hips, throat, shoulders, voice…

Dropping my awareness into pelvis, legs, feet, fully supported by the earth, so that I can release the tensions that hold my pelvis and vocal folds in a certain configuration.

Consciously relaxing my jaw and my pelvic floor at the same time. (Bodymind psychotherapist Susan Aposhyan says there is a vital connection between pelvic floor and mouth—they are the two ends of the alimentary canal. Explore moving your lips and/or jaw gently open and closed and see if you can feel your pelvic floor, including your genitals and anus, respond.)

Squatting, lying, resting on the earth, surrendering my body to her holding.

Creating soulcollage cards with images to accompany and guide my bodysoul transforming (like those in this post).

Receiving massage, bodywork, and coaching.

And in all my practice, letting it be simple, a return, a non-efforting, a non-striving, a letting be and letting go.

This is the yin ground
I am learning to cultivate.

I’m struck with how both the voice work and my holistic pelvic care refer to presence. Cultivating yin ground enhances my vocal presence and my pelvic presence, both of which make me more complete and whole, more present as a human being.

Do you see a difference between yin and yang grounding in your life?

What is your relationship with your vocal and pelvic presence?