July 24, 2010 ( Categories Meditation, Philosophy | Tags: base, camping, earth, grounded, muladhara chakra, root, Yoga )
Being one with nature
Our connection to the Earth is vital to our sense of inner balance. Be it via exercising outdoors, sitting under a tree to read a book, camping in the bush with the family or swimming in the ocean, being outside recharges us mentally and emotionally and restores our sense of inner peace. This is why you feel better after bodysurfing or walking barefoot on the grass.
In modern western society more and more of our time is spent indoors, out of the sunlight and out of touch with the natural flux in environmental conditions. This seems to parallel mankind’s forgetfulness of the delicate balance of mother nature and our role in ensuring the planet’s health.
In terms of yoga, the chakra or energy centre that represents our connection to the earth is Muladhara or root chakra. Physically, drawing up mula bandha during the standing asanas in particular brings power to the poses because it activates root chakra, and brings more balance in that moment of activation. On an emotional and mental level, this chakra is related to instinct, security, survival and also to basic human potentiality.
In my experience I find that if I don’t get outside enough, I start to feel a little “air-headed”, make thoughtless mistakes and generally feel less grounded and unsure of myself. My root chakra seems to weaken and if I’m attentive enough I even notice this in my physical yoga practice – I start to feel less balanced and weaker in my legs and lower body! Conversely, after an extended period of time living outdoors, during a break from work and study, I feel fully rested, and work better – productivity is increased, and health is protected.
Holidays that involve changing your environment and with it, your outlook, are the only holidays that I feel have a tangible impact on my levels of connectedness, alertness and presence. They are the most grounding for me. Staying at home and just chilling is wonderful too but I find getting out into the natural world, away from electrical interference, mobile phones and traffic to be most cathartic and far more re-energising than staying at home in my cocoon!
Bush, Beach, Rainforest
After ten days of having no work or uni to attend to I feel a stark change of baseline stress level. I was recently in far north Queensland where the warmth and humidity were a welcome change to the cold southern mornings I so dread! Having spent the time camping out in relatively isolated rainforest and bush I feel as calm as I did after 7 months in Thailand, proving that for me it’s the quality of time off spent away rather than the quantity that matters most. Personally I came to some important conclusions and my resolve and sense of what really matters to me seem to have strengthened.
I’ve spent my days waking up before sunrise and running followed by some yoga. Initially I spent the first few days around Cape Tribulation, so I was blessed to be able to run along tropical beaches and through lush rainforest every day. One morning I was lucky enough to find a grassy knoll to practise yoga on top of and was delighted by the sun shower that opened up just as I started some surya namaskar! As I headed further inland the landscape changed to dry schlerophyll scrub, my running path weaving between massive termite mounds and cutting into rich red earth.
Doing yoga on beaches, in the forest and on rocks near eucalypt-surrounded waterfalls, I felt as if the surroundings leant a spiritual power to my practice. Nature truly is our greatest comforter, teacher and friend. The mind-clearing, nerve-soothing effects of yoga seem to be magnified many times when practised outdoors, and seemingly more so out of the city away from the collective frenetic energy of civilisation.
A ceiling of stars
At one stage I was staying with the family of a friend who have lived in a camp of permanently erected tents since 1982. They live in scrubby eucalypt forest just out of Herberton on the Atherton Tablelands – their driveway takes 30 minutes to traverse in a 4-wheel drive! I love how camping gives you the opportunity to see the moon and stars every night, in fact its hard to avoid the lunar energy out there as the moon waxes towards full.
Camping out heightens our awareness of the weather, and puts you in direct contact with the ground. I have never slept as soundly as deeply as I did out there with the Liddles! So thank you Isabelle for your kind hospitality, staying with you touched me deeply and helped re-connect me to the earth, among many other things.
The entire experience of having a complete break from everyday life and escaping the confinements of a four-walled building or vehicle feels so right, like coming home. My return to the north of Queensland, close to where I was brought up, truly felt like coming home in more than the physical sense. It was a return to the earth and a strengthening of muladhara chakra. I now feel renewed and clear-headed, and feel a quiet strength that had nearly disappeared over the last 6 months of hard work! It was a nice reminder to spend more time outdoors and I think we could all benefit from a little more of this.
So why don’t you spend a little time outdoors today and pay extra attention to how your body feels during and afterwards? Take your yoga practice outside. Meditate by a waterfall to deepen your insight and increase awareness of your surroundings. Go for a run along the beach or grab a slackline and string it between two trees for an unbeatable balance-improving play session Your body and base chakra will thank you for it!