Weekly Zen: Students, you can find peace
I live in a high-rise. In fact, I am 11 floors off the ground and have a splendid view of the Glen Woods.
I love being outside as much as one can in the winter, but even with these strange warm days and weeks in our Baltimore climate this year, I am not outside nearly enough.
This makes it hard for me to be calm and centered.
For many people, a disconnection from the earth and the earth’s natural rhythms is a source of restlessness, strange sleeping habits, stress and even depression.
As college students, rising with the sun is just as likely to happen as finishing our term papers a week early.
We get our food from organized grocery stores rather than harvesting it ourselves from the soil.
And we drive or ride in cars much more often than we walk distances outside.
In short, our world isn’t structured to support a healthy connection with the earth, which completely supports our life.
The artificial rhythms of life we have created are certainly efficient, but they often isolate us and leave us feeling dizzy and rushed, always on the go.
Slowing down helps me not only feel more connected to the earth, but also more calm.
This simple meditation can (but doesn’t have to) include visualization, and it’s used more or less in many practices like yoga or even basic prayer. Try it out anywhere, even in your residence hall.
To Ground Yourself:
Sit or lie down in a quiet, peaceful place.
I find that sitting on a cushion on the ground or against a wall with a straight back helps.
Once you’re seated, close your eyes. Take as many breaths as you need to slow your heart rate a little and relax.
For the first three or so breaths, breathe in through your nose deeply, filling your stomach, and then release the breath in a huge gust through an open mouth with your tongue tucked behind your upper front teeth.
Perform as many of these breaths as you need to let the day and your worries go. Once you’ve released, picture roots growing out of the base of your spine, continuing your spinal chord into the earth. See the roots dig into the soil and then move out to the sides, like tree roots seeking water.
Breathe as many times as you’d like through the roots, sending your breath, which could appear as white light, through the roots and into the earth.
Cycle the white light breath back up again through the roots and into your spine, spreading the white light through the rest of your body. Use the breath as a circle and an exchange of white light between yourself and the earth.
Once you feel connected, like your heart is beating in rhythm with the earth itself, breathe three more times and then slowly open your eyes.