I recently got my second tattoo and while my brother lovingly and jokingly says “You are one more tattoo away from a biker gang”, I realize the power of grounding and anchoring in imagery these days. Now, you do not need to get these images tattooed onto your body to find your steadiness and ease in the world, but it can be helpful to associate your values and intentions with an image.
Grounding and Identifying Resource Anchors are two mindfulness strategies to move through and not get swept away by big emotions.
Grounding: Sitting comfortably, become aware of the sensations where your feet meet the ground; the weight of your body on your seat; the contact places where your arms or hands rest on your legs. Let your breath be slow and full, and feel the sense of gravity, of belonging to the earth. With your senses awake, recognize that “I am here in this moment, right now.”
You can also ground yourself by touching an object that you experience in either a pleasant or neutral way. It might be something you carry with you such as a stone, shell, pencil, piece of jewelry or meaningful talisman. Or it could be touching the fabric of your clothing or the material of a chair or sofa. Another approach to grounding is to name ten things you are noticing in the room you are in, or name what you are seeing outside.
Resource anchors: These are places to rest the attention that can help collect and quiet the mind, as well as arouse an increased sense of ease. They can be employed separately or in some combination.
· Be aware of sensations in the body that are neutral or pleasant like the feet or hands; feeling the whole body sitting; or open to sounds and the space they are occurring in.
· Place your hand(s) gently on your heart, belly or cheek (or a combination of these) and feel the sensations of warmth and contact. You might also hug yourself.
· Mentally repeat a whispered phrase of reassurance, comfort or love:
“It’s okay sweetheart.” “I’m sorry and I love you.” “I’m here with you.” You might also repeat a set of phrases, as in the lovingkindness or metta practice: “May I be happy, may I be free from inner or outer harm, may I be peaceful, may I be free.”
· Visualize something or someone that brings a sense of comfort, safety or love - a person who you trust, a place in nature where you feel at home, a spiritual figure or deity. You might imagine a loving being embracing you and/or filling you with healing light.
I thank my son for finding the extraordinary in the ordinary and reminding me of the value of noting what I see in the world and the meaning I can pull from it as a resource, an anchor, a steady point of attention. He sees things through a beginner’s mind, which is an attitude of mindfulness many of us work to practice. Beginners mind refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner would.
As we all know life is busy, life is full, and if we don’t take the time to pause it races past. My favorite thing to do is go on walks with my son and watch him stop and look at everything, this is especially grand when we have no time restrictions. He loves to pick up flowers and stones and give them to me and his Dad as gifts. Some may say he picks weeds and gravel, but to him they are beautiful treasures. A beginner’s mind at its best, his lack of preconceptions, openness and eagerness allow him to just experience the moment with the attention of wonder and mystery and in turn cultivate joy. Such potential in walking through the world this way.
He loves dandelions and like most children loves when they are dead and he can blow the fuzzy white seeds into the air and make wishes. This was the inspiration for my latest tattoo, cheesy maybe, but to me it is beautiful. A reminder life is short, dream and make wishes, and our seeds spread and grow everywhere. The last one being a powerful reminder that how we show up with others matters in ways we may never know. We never know if a smile at a stranger plants a seed of hope in their soul or if an extra minute listening to someone plants a seed of being valued in this world. I want my son to remember this lesson he has reminded me of through the image of the dandelion, now forever on my shoulder.
What images ground and anchor you in what matters most and remind you of how you want to live your moments?
May you find a steadiness and ease in the images around you. Namaste.