Spring grounding

The Pumpcrete truck was already on site this morning when I woke at 5:47.

That particular vehicle is not there every day – there seem to be periods of building, pouring, then drying, then building a next thing, involving a range of trucks and contraptions and so on.

I was telling my son about the Pumpcrete truck last Sunday when we got together for the first big bike ride of spring season.

He told me about the finishing steps of the condo tower being built across from where he lives, and about the overnight dismantling of the crane, done by another crane, that built itself to be able reach up and take down the crane that had been used to build the building.

Engineers... we marvelled to each other. He said: When I watch what they are doing, I feel an awe, kind of like the awe I feel about nature.

An intertesting comparison I was thinking, as I came across this fascinating podcast with Erin Yu-Juin McMorrow , author of the recent book Grounded: A Fierce, Feminine Guide to Connecting with the Soil and Healing from the Ground.

She talks specifically about our modern western world as being one by and for engineers, vs an orientation to the earth, the soil, the ground, and ultimately to the feminine.

She talks a lot about soil, and putting our feet on the earth to ground ourselves, and I remembered an even deeper technique I learned years ago at a workshop with Ohki Simine Forest, where she had us lie down on our bellies on some scrabbly ground in Santa Fe, lying on the earth and letting her absorb all of our edgy bits, you know, where the grounding instructions go kind of like this –

Imagine a white light coming directly from a source above and bring that energy down into your physical body.

Next, imagine that energy moving all the way down into the center of the Earth.

See, imagine, or feel any energetic imbalances within you being moved down and out directly into the Earth to be recycled. Ask that any imbalances be washed away.

Now, bring the pure, solid, reliable, grounding energy of Earth—and all that she represents to you—allow yourself to feel the qualities of Earth that you most need to draw upon at this time: permanence, reliability, safety, security—whatever it is that you need at this moment.

credit: unknown

But where I live now is so ferociously urban, connecting with the earth by lying on it, or even by going out in bare feet is not an easy or obvious option.

It used to be I could wander out in the back yard in my pyjamas and bare feet, coffee in hand to greet the day…

But after a couple of moves, now I find myself in a place where I wander out to the balcony, coffee in hand to greet the day and see this – the crane, the trucks, the leftovers of industrial harbour wasteland, the highway and condos and cranes beyond –

Now, this isn’t a pity party, don’t be feeling sorry for me, cause fact is, when I go down a few flights of stairs and out the side door, what I see is this –

Lake Ontario / Toronto Harbour.

Big Love.

But the thing is: SO MUCH OF THE WORLD spends their / our lives living in dense urban environments.

In cities. In towers.

Far from any easy direct contact with the earth.

Check out these photos by photographer Michael Wolf

credit: Micheal Wolf
credit: Michael Wolf

So the question is… how do you, how do I, how do we, connect with the ground, with the earth, in this kind of ultra-urban living situation?

In a situation where there is no grass, not even a sense of soil underneath the feet, but rather of concrete and infill, parking garages and layers of infrastructure.

I was telling my boy about how one day someone in our building noticed this ship’s anchor hanging out in the construction site out front.

And someone else in the building said: Well, you know, when they did the infill for this area, apparently they used whatever they could get their hands on, including old ships.

Toronto Harbour 1967

Because we are right on the edge of the Toronto Harbour, on what has gradually, over the decades, been increasingly filled in to create a harbour with a depth able to receive the increasingly large ships.

I guess my answer for myself on grounding in urban situ has been:

When I do meditations where I “ground”, feeling down through the earth, sending roots down and feeling even into the core of the globe – I begin with what is there, feeling down through the floors below me, through the parking garages, and then through the concrete and infill and finally to what’s left of the silt and slime of the lake bottom down there, just letting my imagination feel into what IS, or what I imagine Might Be.

And, aside from feeling good, some fun art explorations have been coming out of it –

Where the Earth Began, Katharine Asals

In a way, this approach to the meditation is an exercise in including the city as material entity that is part of the earth – of trying to integrate rather than fight the fact that this is where my body finds itself.

Okay, okay… it is not the same as bare feet on dewy wet grass in the morning, I can tell you that, but it is still something…

Roots #2, Katharine Asals

And you, Dear Reader? Do you do Grounding Meditations? Do you live in a city? What’s your experience with these various factors?

Inspired by Lens Artists Photo Challenge: You Pick It

Broken Rock Face

cormorant island
Friday afternoons are sketching class – the best day of the week.
Each week we go to a different location, a park somewhere close by, in the ‘hood, and set up to draw whatever presents itself.
This week was the Scarborough Bluffs.
tree leaning down cliff side
Such an amazing place – I’d never been this far east and south before, and wow, what a fascinating, strange place, almost like being at the ocean with the strong winds, the sound of waves on the beach, the gulls and kingfishers diving for fish –
kingfisher
A place to come back to when the sun is low on the horizon and the skies glow orange and magenta.
But it was interesting too how harsh and desolate the cliff faces looked in the bright afternoon light, the ravages of time and water on the shapes of the rocks –
overhang full size
edge, gull, treetop
My drawing companions tease me that no matter what I draw – a rock, a tree, an animal – it ends up looking vaguely like the human figure.
A drawing of a cliff face also seems to hold a variety of human faces, snouts and orifices –
hoodoos drawing
Another rock drawing suggest reclining figures, hairy crevices and the folds of flesh –
rock fountain drawing
A drawing of tree hints at perhaps a headless torso, arms, a belly-button –
tree torso drawing
Another tree could be an underarm, or a knee –
tree branch drawing
That is my hand, my mark, apparently.
Out in the sun and wind, facing these cliffs, blown away by the sheer force of the place, it’s hard to even put pencil to paper, the desire to simply soak in the splendour of the day is so overpowering.
Yes, this too is Toronto…
cliff lake vistaWeekly Photo Challenge – Broken

Threshold

Threshold of the subway doors, humans and hints of animal beyond – wolfman on subwayThreshold of a slinky bus, during a morning commute, he studies his phone, bathed in light – 20140406-193526.jpgThreshold of a cliff, of the lake, of the edge of the city, of the transition from urban neighbourhoods to the wild beyond – 20140406-193632.jpg
Threshold of a smile, of the beginning of life, of nascent love…20140406-193701.jpgWeekly Photo Challenge – Threshold