Articles by Laila Deardorff
The Duality of Grounding vs Groundlessness, October 2020
We often talk of “grounding” in yoga facilitating the unfolding of our poses. When I teach, I’m constantly yammering on about sending the roots of the feet deep down into the earth for the stability needed in standing poses. And especially when our world gets topsy-turvy, this sense of grounding seems foundational for our sanity as well. Grounding makes us feel like we have control and we constantly seek its benefits by creating plans, schedules, and structure. And then, we become anxious and stressed when things don’t turn out as we’ve planned.
But what if we think of this from another perspective as we might when we turn ourselves upside down in an inversion? What if we opened up to groundlessness?
The Buddhists call this “impermanence.” They see it as a fundamental principle that life is ever changing and cannot be controlled by humans.
Pema Chödron shares this idea so beautifully in this quote:
“It’s not impermanence per se, or even knowing we’re going to die, that is the cause of our suffering, the Buddha taught. Rather, it’s our resistance to the fundamental uncertainty of our situation. Our discomfort arises from all of our efforts to put ground under our feet, to realize our dream of constant okayness. When we resist change, it’s called suffering. But when we can completely let go and not struggle against it, when we can embrace the groundlessness of our situation and relax into its dynamic quality, that’s called enlightenment, or awakening to our true nature, to our fundamental goodness. Another word for that is freedom — freedom from struggling against the fundamental ambiguity of being human.”
In general, we tend to view things as separate and unconnected, but we can’t ignore that the air we breathe connects us all, as does our food chain. Nothing is truly solid – not you, not me. We are made of particles that are in constant motion.