One of the 6 practices of growing human(kind)ness is grounding: giving yourself regular, rhythmic self care so you feel nourished, vital and strong.
One thing that I’ve noticed this year is how much more grounding I need when I’m going through a hard time. If your life is extra stressful right now (and I think so many of us are feeling this because of the economy) or if you’re going through a time of grief or loss (which often accompanies stress!), that extra grounding is crucial.
We also need extra grounding when going through a cycle of change, and this includes dietary change, like eating less sugar, healing a pattern of emotional eating, or swapping processed foods for whole foods.
I also have to be really careful lest my grounding turn pushy. I can be resistant to this, because there is a part of my mind that wants to bargain with grounding. As in, if I do all these things to ground myself, then I’d better darn well guarantee my weight, my moods, my life, my income, and more will cooperate *exactly* as I want them to. Oh, my friends, bargaining mind is a recipe for suffering.
In the past 12 months, in this difficult, difficult year, I’ve had to accept that grounding my body is not about guaranteeing externals, but is a force of love and care arising from an internal desire for freedom. It’s a responsiveness to what is – and what is seeking compassion.
My grounding during this time of loss, mourning, and challenge has meant rest, care, lowering my expectations, and even – yes – gaining weight. Gentle yoga and walking are all the exercise I do right now as doing more takes me out of balance.
On the outside, I know this looks messy – and, honestly, a little bit flabby. And yet here’s what I learned: there’s a beautiful wisdom and grace in opening to what is and not what I want to be. I’ve opened to the sorrow that is as a part of life as joy. And most of the time, I feel okay about the extra weight, even though I’m at my heaviest weight in 14 years.
I accept it, as I accept life’s changes and impermanence, knowing that my gaining weight is not proof of “badness” or failure. It’s simply evidence of the painful stage of life I’m in right now. How human of me for that evidence to show up…. How normal. How natural.
How precious. How beautiful that I wear how I love and live on my body. Life shows up on the body. Yes. As it is. As it should. Ageing, illness, gaining weight – all our tender impermanent humanity is not something to try and control, eradicate or look upon as a character flaw, something about which we feel guilty. It it something to revere.
There is a season of everything – and, yes, even a season for gaining weight.
We typically don’t bemoan a pregnant woman’s weight gain, because there’s a “valid” reason for it. And yet we criticize weight gain for other reasons – A medical crisis; a death, a loss; a hard year; a bankruptcy or divorce; a painful, difficult childhood that created a habit of turning to food for nurturing.
How about just life itself?
We carry so much fear about needing to control life. To have it go according to our plan. We are so afraid to look messy, untogether, unglued, not coping “well,” whatever that means.
Oh, beloved, gaining weight, needing more grounding, falling apart at the seams – all of these things, and more – are really, really okay. And if this is what is, how do I respond? How do I ground myself in these circumstances?
In my case, I went to the Macy’s sale today and bought myself 2 pairs of pants in a bigger size. I also bought new underwear, because, let’s face it – wearing too tight underwear helps us all appreciate why we tell someone who’s uptight, “Don’t get your panties in a wad!”
This was a kind, kind thing to do for myself instead of trying to squeeze into too small jeans – and underwear. I’m not punishing myself for being human, for having a hard year, for grieving, for needing rest, for feeling the sting of loss.
I’m going to take a nap today. I might go for an afternoon walk as the sun just peaked out. I might call my grandma or a friend because I’m feeling lonely. And I’m going to make soup for dinner, something healthy and comforting.
More and more, I appreciate that grounding is a concrete way of showing myself kindness. It’s a responsive dance of, “What do I need now?” and answering with honesty, wisdom, kindness…and willingness when the answer is “rest” and not “burn off that extra weight.” It’s letting go of shoulds and trusting the unfolding of my path; that I am right where I need to be.
For years my biggest fear was gaining weight, or looking flabby. Here I am, sitting with both. And unlike before, I’m not using it as ammunition to turn on myself. I will not make war against my own heart. When I bought myself bigger pants – and no, they are not fat pants, they are compassion pants, and quite cute – I stopped the war.
This freedom – the freedom to love myself unconditionally – is something I never found, even when I was at my thinnest. It’s the real reward. As Cheri Huber asks, If you face your deepest fear (feeling unlovable, fat or like a failure) and discover it’s not true, what else do we have to fear?