To ground ourselves means to express the qualities of the Earth, to express stability. Not an easy thing to do because despite our best efforts, life is not lived in a state of equilibrium, a tensionless state; rather it is as the author Victor Frankl once described a constant tension between “what one is and what one should become.”
But we are living in an age when grounding is no longer part of the rhythm of many of our lives. We have become fast and hardwired to be in our minds most of the time. Our nervous systems have had to adapt to a constant stream of noise and informationThis highly reactive existence overstimulates our sympathetic nervous system and depresses our digestive fire.
Finding grounding comes down to routine: regular rhythm calms the nervous system.
It’s also important that we really experience our senses, because they remind us that we are not just our thoughts, and that consciousness is also in the body. We tend to over identify with our thoughts, and try to change them, but because trauma and pain are often also held in the body, we need to make time and create a space to experience what our body is telling us and what we are feeling. This is where massage can be so powerful, as it brings us back to the rhythm of our breath, and helps us to be still even when there are uncomfortable feelings to sit with.
In Ayurveda the qualities of the Earth element are stable, sweet, heavy, slow, soft and dense. These qualities help the body to grow, create a feeling of grounding and insulate us with a layer of fat. This is known as kapha, one of the three doshas or constitutions that Ayurveda uses to describe the different qualities of a person’s physical and emotional makeup.
Can be found in the chest, in the heart and the lungs, and anywhere where the earth and water element are to be found. It relates to the production of phlegm, synovial fluid, seminal fluids, and brings moisture to the body, lubrication to the joints, adds strength and joy to our whole being. It determines our capacity for pleasure, our immunity and our body weight. It affects our sleep and our mental health. It is nourished by sweet, salty and sour tastes, and by the sense of smell. Those who are born with a predominance of kapha in their nature tend to have resilience and a capacity to support others precisely because they hold these enduring qualities.
Although they are naturally more grounded than the other doshas, kapha dosha tends to hold emotion and this can create stagnation, slow metabolism, weight gain or constipation. This is where oils such as mustard oil and triphala oil are useful to increase circulation. Kapha are naturally present in their bodies and often calm, but they tend to resist self-care as they are often caring for others. Massage helps them to acknowledge their own voice and needs to be cared for, grounded and soothed, and to release whatever has been stored up in the body.
If we are vata constitution and are ruled by air and ether we tend to be ungrounded and fearful by nature. Vata constitutions can be dry and cold and their appetites irregular. The ayurvedic treatment Abyhanga with its hot, medicated oils can be the best antidote for this, lubricating the body’s tissues and slowing the mind down. By calming the nervous system the energy is brought back to the place of digestion. Mahanarayan oil is a particularly good tonic for the nervous system. Containing up to fourteen different ingredients like ginger, neem aswaganda, and bala, one of its main uses is for pacifying aggravated vata in the body.
Just knowing that our constitution predisposes us to be prone to certain patterns and that there are tools that can keep us grounded helps us to understand that it is not in fact a failure if we feel a lack of groundedness. For vata this would be warm cooked meals, massage, gentle exercise, and keeping our daily rhythms simple.
If we are Pitta constitution and fire is our element then there is a tendency to be a planning ahead, and to be always creating strategies of order and control. The fiery nature can also easily experience anger and frustration as life doesn’t necessarily work out as planned, and often the more force and focus we put on things the more we have to lose when they don’t bring us a return. Pittas often suffer with inflammation and digestive issues, as the heat in their body can cause headaches, acne, or recurrent infections. Massage can have a cooling and grounding effect bringing them back to the present moment. Oils such as pinda oil and maharayana oil are both cooling, anti-inflammatory and analgesic, bringing relief to inflamed tissues.
Knowing one’s nature is the first step to finding grounding, and Ayurveda not only helps us to do this, but also gives us tools to stay on the right path when life’s challenges leave us feeling disconnected from our inner stability.
Maxine is a qualified Ayurvedic massage therapist who has been working with body treatments since 2005. She specialises in treatments to help with stress relief, improved circulation, pain relief, internal lubrication of joints and bones, improved digestion, better sleep, and less anxiety. If you would like to find more about Maxine’s treatments and explore the potential of Ayurvedic massages see her full schedule at triyoga here.