My Authentic Self: June 15, 2020
Getting Down & Dirty In The Garden For Some Healing
Almost a year ago, we took a look at what others ways we could enhance our Chicks connectivity through an active lifestyle and our local community gardens popped up on the radar. Little did we know how important this Chicks Community garden would become to our active healing and a sense of feeling more grounded during the uncertainty of Covid 19. If you are in the Park City area and would like to join us in our garden and get involved or just visit, we meet on Wednesdays at 9am throughout the summer. We also suggest you take a look where you live and we bet there is a community garden you could get involved with and meet some pretty amazing people there too.
Through our local Summit Community Garden we met our newest contributor, Whitney Reed, who brings a long and deep background in practiced mediation and mindful Vipassana leadership to our community. She will be contributing to our continued pursuit of Wellness in our blog and newsletter as well as leading some Yoga classes in the gardens.
Whitney has been teaching mindfulness meditation on and off for 17 years and practicing meditation under the (Mindfulness) Vipassana Theravada Buddhism lineage for 19 years. Her meditation path deepened while pursuing her PhD in Clinical Psychology she decided, amidst the piles of research, that Mindfulness/meditation was the modality she wanted to research over any other form of psychotherapy. She was also going through a period of time where many close friends and family died which stimulated existential questioning. Through this she left her PhD to focus primarily on Mindfulness, Dharma and Meditation which led her to undertake a series of long retreats where she sat several hundred hours in meditation which inspired the completion of an intensive 2 year dharma leadership training at Spirit Rock Meditation Center.
Whitney grew up in Park City Ut. ski racing and at a young age was ranked 11th in the nation for downhill ski racing. After a series of intense injuries she turned to Yoga as a way of healing and has been teaching regularly for 18 years. She has been through many trainings and. recently attended a 500hr training through Prajna Yoga. She assists at Yoga Journal Conferences with Prajna yoga and Tias Little all over the country.
by Whitney Reed
The cartoon above from the New Yorker speaks to the dilemma that so many seem to be confronted with these days. How do we maintain a balanced state of mind amongst all of the instability that we are currently confronted with in the world?
I am not going to pretend to have an answer nor claim to have an answer. Only you can find that through your experience.
But I do want to offer you a few gems that have statistically proven to help many people and encourage you to try them.
The intention of the writing below is to give you a “GEM” to wear everyday throughout this week. To try it on when you wake up in the morning and wear it throughout the day as magical healing tool that helps to cultivate a deep sense of mind/body wellness on your own.
G for Grounding
E for Earth
M for Mindfulness
Grounding has been practiced since the beginning of time when our ancestors walked around in bare feet or conductive leather moccasins or sandals. Perhaps this is one explanation for their longevity and good health. After the invention of rubber-soled shoes, a non-conductive barrier was erected between mankind and our greatest source of electrons – the earth. As our direct contact with the earth fades through the routine use of synthetic flooring and shoes, electromagnetic instability threatens our health.
All our cells are made of atoms. Atoms possess unique positive and negative charges that are based on the number of negative electrons or positive protons they carry. Many healthy atoms have a negative charge because they possess more electrons; however, these atoms can have electrons “stolen” from them, leaving them highly reactive and damaging. In this state, they are called free radicals. As damaging free radicals infiltrate cells and tissues, our health declines. The only way to stop this destructive process is by supplying the body with neutralizing antioxidants or a large dose of negative electrons, through grounding.
Grounding Neutralizes Free Radicals
Free radicals are generated through inflammation, infection, cell damage, trauma, stress, and our toxic environments. They force our immune system to respond to these threats. An active immune system produces more free radicals and soon our body is attempting to put out fires, but it has insufficient resources to do so. Additionally, industrialization and our increasingly technological world have thrown us into a labyrinth of electromagnetic fields, which disrupt the electrical balance of our cells. An abundance of free radicals, instable charges, inflammation and immune activation are responsible for some of our most threatening chronic conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic pain syndromes, and autoimmunity.
Grounding is a simple, inexpensive means by which most of us can combat these destructive forces. The negative electrons absorbed from the earth quenches the free radicals, supports the immune system, and puts out the fires. Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman described an umbrella affect created when we “earth.” He claimed that grounding equalized the electronic potential between the body and the earth, so the body becomes an extension of the earth’s magnetic field. This potential “cancels, reduces, and pushes away electrical fields from the body.”
Grounding Improves Sleep, Pain Management, and Stress
Grounding appears to improve sleep, help manage pain, and normalizes cortisol (a stress hormone) to reduce the stress response.
The nervous system is an electrical system of the body and influences all these activities. An influx of negative electrons from the earth has been shown to calm the nervous system by shifting the autonomic nervous system from the sympathetic, “fight-or-flight” branch toward the parasympathetic “rest-and-digest” branch.
Sleep and stress reduction are vital for managing pain, and decreasing the risks of many chronic health conditions. In a blind pilot study of 60 subject suffering from sleep disturbances and chronic muscle and joint pain for at least six months, grounding each night for one month produced a 74 to 100 percent improvement in quality of sleep, feeling rested upon waking, muscle stiffness and pain, chronic back and joint pain, and general well-being. Grounding helps to establish a normal cortisol level at night, which improves sleep, pain, and stress.
Grounding Improves Inflammation and Immunity
New studies also show that grounding positively affects the inflammatory response and the immune system, which could have far-reaching health benefits. We already know that grounding improves cortisol levels. Since a high cortisol, associated with chronic stress, leads to systemic inflammation in the body, grounding can certainly improve inflammation as it normalizes cortisol.
The influx of free negative electrons from the earth also combats positively charged free radicals generated by inflammatory factors as they respond to injury, infection, trauma or stress. As grounding neutralizes free radicals, the immune response calms. Healing proceeds at a faster rate in the absence of destructive free radicals. When the body is deficient in negative electrons, cells and tissue are vulnerable to destruction, leading to free radicals, systemic inflammation, and chronic immune activation. This environment increases risks for cancer, autoimmunity, infections, chronic pain conditions, and a general decline in health.
This article is written by Dr Bradly and gathered from his blog on https://www.fibrofix.com/blogs
Chevalier, G., Sinatra, S. T., Oschman, J. L., Sokal, K., & Sokal, P. (2012). Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth’s Surface Electrons. Journal of Environmental and Public Health, 2012, 291541. http://doi.org/10.1155/2012/29
Oschman, J. L., Chevalier, G., & Brown, R. (2015). The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Journal of Inflammation Research, 8, 83–96. http://doi.org/10.2147/JIR.S69
Working with earth energy helps us get grounded, feel at home in a place, and find our sense of place within our body which lends us to feeling at home anyplace. The earth is physical, tangible, we can use all of our senses to relate with and to it. Working with earth element encourages us to get dirty, to get out of our heads, and be fully present through our senses, bringing us evermore into our body. It is no coincidence that working with the earth element enhances our connection with our physical body, and vice versa, being more in tune with our body intensifies our connection with, and sensitivity towards, Mother Earth. The earth element is a metaphor for our physical body, just as water element is a symbol for our emotional body, fire element is symbolic for spirit, and air, thoughts.
We work with earth energy to stabilize, to get out of our heads. Too much air energy and not enough earth energy leads to a disconnection from the physical world and development of anxiety, otherwise known as uncontrolled thinking. Working with earth energy increases our sense of connection to the great web of life, increasing our sense of belonging, and thus lift us out of the depression of disconnection. Increased awareness of earth energy helps us attune more to the beauty that is here all around us … in the glory of the sunrise, the exquisite detail of the flowers, and the miraculous interconnection of all things.
Working with the earth element can be as simple as stepping out the door or going for a walk outside. We connect and work with earth energy every time we open our awareness to Mother Nature, appreciating her essence and attuning our senses to her energies enlivens the earth energy within us. Planting seeds, pulling weeds, ordinary acts of yard work and gardening can be an energetic attunement when we bring even an ounce of conscious awareness to these acts. The greater our sense of presence in the moment, the more powerful our alignment becomes with the energies we are working with. This simple shift in awareness turns a chore into a ceremony, as it is in ceremony that we consciously connect with the higher energies.
No matter how long you’ve been meditating, or even if you’ve never meditated at all, it’s inevitable that you’ll ask, especially at a difficult moment: what’s the point? Why meditate?
I’m actually going to answer that question. In fact, I’m going to answer it three times.
The first reason is deceptively simple: relaxation. Perhaps meditation’s most famous claim is that it has the ability to help us relax. Then again, so can a bubble bath. So why meditation?
Relaxation isn’t a luxury. In the world we live in, it’s a necessity. The everyday tension and stress that accompanies life in the 21st century can be debilitating to our mental and physical health. We need something deeper than an occasional treat. We need something that will get to the root of the problem.
I first began meditating as a college student because I suffered from unrelenting anxiety that did not subside even when I went to sleep. Regular meditation helped retrain my brain and body to handle anxious thoughts when they arrived. It didn’t stop the anxious thoughts, but it helped short-circuit the trigger that connected the thoughts to the physical panic symptoms, such as shortness of breath, sweating, and fainting.
So, yes relaxation, but not ordinary relaxation. Meditation helps us ground ourselves more of the time in the here and the now, rather than in the “what-if.” Panic lives in the “what-if.” What if this stalled subway is a terrorist attack? What if I never find love? What if I fail my classes, can’t get a job, disgrace my family, and have to live on the street? The more we train our minds to stay present, the more we become able to meet these “what-ifs” with the distance of a witness, rather than as a victim.
The second reason to meditate is wisdom.
The thinking mind is wonderful, but it has serious limitations. If you’ve ever been up late at night, tossing and turning with the difficulties of the day, lost in circular thoughts or obsessed with a difficult decision, you have witnessed the limited capacity of the mind to solve our deepest problems. Often the thinking mind tries to pick apart, understand, and bring logic to painful or complicated feelings, without a great deal of success.
In contrast, when the mind becomes quiet, a miraculous thing begins to happen. In my case, I start to notice the patterns of my thoughts without getting too attached to them. I start to hear with remarkable clarity the many voices in my head—voices of parents, of society, of the stories I have invented. Space becomes available for insights and truths to speak from unconscious realms within. This is wisdom.
In my mid-twenties, I went on a meditation retreat in the middle of a very tumultuous time in my working life. When I sat down in meditation on the first few days of the retreat, I could feel the magnetic attraction of my work problems consuming my thoughts and not letting me go.
Finally, on one of the last days of the retreat, after a week of repeatedly getting caught up in thoughts, suddenly my thinking mind surrendered. Out of nowhere, I heard an internal voice. It was a different voice than the endless, confused machinations of the mind I had been struggling with. It said quietly, with clarity: You have to go. As soon as those words had the chance to break through, I burst into tears. That was it. With four words, what I knew to be true, but didn’t want to face, came to the surface. I needed to leave the work situation I was in. The decision was made and all that was left was the grieving.
Nearly all the major insights I have had in my life have come from that place deep inside. Perhaps you have noticed this in your life—times when your mind stopped fixating on a problem and an answer came to you from a different place. This is the nature of our mind’s inner wisdom, and meditation is the fertile ground that enables it to emerge.
The third reason to meditate is compassion.
Compassion is the heart-opening feeling that occurs when we witness the ways we are interconnected with every being and thing in the world. Recent research has shown that meditation increases compassionate and altruistic behavior, but personally, I find that the more I meditate, the more I feel motivated to fight for justice and, perhaps more mundanely, to treat the people in my life with everyday kindness and care. Meditation cracks my heart wide open and softens me towards others. It is not something I logically think through. It feels more like a chemical response—a rush of love—that bypasses my defenses and tenderizes me for a period of time.
Meditation opens the heart, builds compassion, and has the potential to inspire loving action which fosters positive change.
Ultimately, relaxation, wisdom, and compassion all flow from the process of becoming more awake in our lives. When we are focused on what is happening in real time, even for a few seconds at a time, we are not caught in the tangle of thoughts that constantly swing between the future and the past. We become intimate with the experience of life and are able to live it more deeply. That is the point.
Yael Shy is the author of What Now? Meditation for Your 20’s and Beyond (Parallax, 2017) and the Senior Director of NYU’s Office of Global Spiritual Life and MindfulNYU.