Grounded

HOW SETTLED ARE YOU in your seat? If you’re sitting on a chair of any sort, you may have already joined the ranks of the uncomfortably settled.

The health hazards of sitting are making news: A recent poster published by The Washington Post graphically depicts the disease, degeneration and correlating death that may result from too much cushion warming.

The Post’s tips suggest sitting up straight, away from the chair back, shoulders relaxed, arms bent at the elbows and close to the sides, relying on the body’s underpinnings,

A rarer option is abandoning the chair to come to the ground. Sitting on the floor gives new meaning to supporting oneself. And because most of us can’t sit on the floor for any great length of time, we move around more than we would when planted in a chair.

Sitting on the floor reconnects us with the earthiness of being alive. It can be easier to find one’s center of gravity without furniture’s encumbrances. Some consider the practice “grounding,” believing it calms and centers the mind while energizing the body.

“It’s a confidence builder,” says Sally Craig, who teaches gentle yoga at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in D.C. “Being aware of where your body is in space. Having that level of body awareness is critically important for avoiding falls or falling safely, with the least amount of damage.”

Continue reading in My Little Bird where the story ran last week.

Prefer to stretch in a chair? Check out these moves.

Want to stick with the mind? Practice morning mindfulness.

Sukhasana + Xingche

Appreciating leisure…

Living in Seclusion in the Nanyue Mountains

To dwell in noble solitude has been the goal of a lifetime,

So from now on I will live my life here on this mountain.

I have seen through the illusions of this dusty world

And am no longer embroiled in this floating existence.

There are stalactites that one can suck whenever one likes

And wisteria flowers that can be pulled down as one pleases.

Heaven and earth make up a space so great and so vast,

Who really appreciates the leisure to be found therein!

– Xingche, from the poem “Living in Seclusion in the Nanyue Mountains,” translated by Beata Grant

Note: previously published in Daughters of Emptiness: Poems of Chinese Buddhist Nuns (Wisdom Publications, 2003);  reprinted with permission of the press

Pair with: sukhasana

Speak: The poet ends her question with an exclamation mark instead of a question mark. Enjoy!

Consider leisure.

 

Sukhasana + Julia Connor

Sitting in sukhasana says, “I am ready to listen,” to notice (as the poem’s speaker does) that the time it takes a thing to work itself through is a flowering, a rising prayer, a song.

BLOOM

If you bring forth what is inside you, what you bring forth will save you. – Gospel of Thomas

the time it takes a thing 
to work itself thru 
                   is 
the flowering 

prayer 
ascending 
          its stem 


to open is 
to be taken           utterly 

                   is 

                           (I know it by heart 
                                    the children sing) 
to be 

         stung

Julia Connor

Note: with permission of the poet

Pair with: sukhasana

Speak: This poem uses space on the page as a dance uses space on the stage. Allow yourself to feel the poem with your entire body.

Consider how “Bloom” is both verb and noun. How are you both verb and noun, too?

Sukhasana + Lisa Marie Smith

“Meditate” is related to the word measure. Maybe finding a pleasant seat in a quiet spot for a few minutes of reflection is a way of measuring life.

On Meditation

I have discovered

in trying to meditate

that my mind is restless

and my body, tired.

Focus on your breath.

How hard could that be?

My mind veers off —

to little and big

things I should do,

to the paint chip

I noticed this morning

on the cabinet door,

to an image of someone

lifting a baby,

to an idea for a poem

about how I am not

a good meditator.

Then I fall asleep.

 

– Lisa Marie Smith

Pair with: sukhasana

Speak: Notice when and how the poet uses long and short sentences, and the tension among lines within the longer sentences.

Consider welcoming the wandering mind, and sleep.

 

Sukhasana + Xingche

Sitting outside “each and every place reveals the eternally real.”

Living in Seclusion in the Nanyue Mountains

When the sun comes out, it warms the body through,

And when the wind rises, it cools off the great earth.

The human heart must face so very many obstacles

That only the way of the sages can scatter and dispel.

Like white jade, from the beginning it is completely white,

Like yellow gold, it needs no refining to becomes yellow.

Whether ancient or modern it undergoes no change,

And in each and every place reveals the eternally real.

– Xingche, from the poem “Living in Seclusion in the Nanyue Mountains,” translated by Beata Grant

Note: previously published in Daughters of Emptiness: Poems of Chinese Buddhist Nuns (Wisdom Publications, 2003);  reprinted with permission of the press

Speak: This is one stanza of a longer poem that is part of a series of poems. How does the one stanza feel complete in and of itself, the way one asana posture can feel complete within a series of postures?

Consider the human heart.

 

Sukhasana + Lalla

 

 

Where did I come from, and how?

Where am I going?

Will I know the road?

 

This life is empty breath.

If I can hear one clear truth,

I’ll be fortunate.

 

– Lalla, translated by Coleman Barks

Note: Poem previously published in Naked Song (Maypop, 1992); used by permission of  Coleman Barks

Speak: Notice how the questions stack one upon another and then…space with a stanza break before the statements begin.

Consider: What truths are you fortunate to know?

Sukhasana + Allegra Silberstein

Sukhasana, easy pose, creates room for breath in the torso, what the poet calls “the ribbed cathedral.”

SukhasanaNew

Breath

 

I breathe

you into me

to the edges

of my collarbone

 

into the ribbed

cathedral

beneath

my breasts

 

in the silence

of release

my spirit dances

for you…

 

wants you

the way people

of the long winter

long for spring.

  – Allegra Silberstein

Note: Poem was first published in In the Folds (Rattlesnake Press, 2005) ; used by permission of the poet

Pair with: sukhasana

Speak: Experience how the lines of the poem follow the rhythm of breath.

Consider: The poet imagines the body as a space longing to fill with breath. How does it feel to surrender to the breath, to that longing for it, and feel the relief of breath coming in like spring after winter?