Finding our Base of Support
Recently I have been feeling a little unsteady as the ground of my life shifts in unpredictable ways and the energies of the world grow more intense and, at times, destabilizing. I have become increasingly aware of how my thoughts and experiences and the emotions of the people around me can move me off center and knock me down. While I am grateful for the practices that I have been cultivating which help me re-center and find my way back to alignment, I have to admit that I have grown weary of falling down and having to get back up. So I decided to ask my Qigong practice for guidance and support around this issue. How can I find my way to more stability? What are the true sources of security in my life? How can I find a base of support for my life?
I was surprised when the answer showed up as a fond memory of a toy. When my kids were toddlers, one of our favorite toys to play with was a set of Weebles – we would move these roly-poly egg shaped dolls around the dollhouse playground watching them sway, fall over and then always stand themselves back up. The motto of these toys was: “Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down.”
Exploring deeper into how these dolls work, I landed on the characteristic that they have a low center of mass. With the majority of their weight and substance below their middle, anything that tips them will only temporarily upset their balance while their weighted base both prevents them falling over completely and serves as a gravitational pull back into upright alignment. It got me wondering, how can we exist in the world in a similar manner?
I realized that much of my life is spent with my awareness up in my head, thinking. Because the Qi follows the awareness, this means that much of my energy and substance is above the neck and naturally such a top-heavy arrangement leads me to feel less stable. Many of us spend a lot of our lives not fully in our bodies. This can be for a variety of reasons: physical discomforts in the body, overwhelming emotions, attraction to intellectual pursuits, modern technology’s lure to interact with stimuli that pull us out of the present moment. Regardless of how we got there, many of us are stepping into the next present moment with a high center of mass or with most of our presence and substance not centered in our body at all. Is it any wonder that we feel unstable and insecure?
I am exploring ways to weave into my Qigong practices the intention to invite myself to come more fully into my body and to drop my center of mass lower. On a basic level, I am seeking to bring my attention and my awareness into the lower areas of my body. More subtly, I imagine that my weight is settling more and more completely into my lower body. With each movement I do, I imagine it as an invitation for my abdomen, pelvis and legs to fill up with Qi. Here are some examples… When I sweep my meridians with my Lao Gong points I focus on inviting my attention to my legs and feet. I imagine that I am gathering up Qi from my arms and heart and sending it to the lower body. When I bathe my marrow, I use my intention to direct my energy to settle deeper and deeper down. I see myself building up the solidness of my feet and my legs, adding substance and weight to my foundation. I do Dan Tien breathing, where I imagine that my nostrils are on my lower Dan Tien, and I breathe directly into this lower energy center. Each breath is nourishing my base of support, filling my lower abdomen and pelvis with Qi. When I do Centering Circles, I make contact with energy above and below and gather it into me, but then I continue following the energy as it condenses into my Dan Tien. When I play with Tai Chi walking and mindful weight shifting, I use it as a way to reacquaint myself with the strength and substance in my lower body. I also sense more deeply the balance that results from allowing myself to sink down and settle fully into my stance before stepping out.
As I have played with these concepts, I have come to understand that the stability I feel in my life is not a function of external circumstances and conditions. While it is true that it is easier to feel stable when I am walking on level ground, the ability to stand, endure, and return to my natural state when disturbed, is ultimately the result of how I am showing up. It is not given to me by the stable ground that I stand on. The question is, have I given myself a stable, solid foundation? When I am willing to be fully in my body, to sink my awareness into my heart and Dan Tien, when I show up in this present moment, I bring my own stability and am able to traverse any ground, no matter how uneven or unsteady.
A happy consequence that flows from this base of support is confidence and sense of security. Come what may, I am okay. The winds of change may ruffle me, may knock me over, but I will come back to center; I will not fall down. I do not have to exert energy resisting what is showing up, but rather can be moved by whatever is, while my core, my center remains undisturbed. I find that I am increasingly willing, and even excited, to push into the unknown territory of new experiences because I am confident that I bring my own stability.
May you settle more fully into your base of support and enjoy the journey ahead.
Best Good Care,
Susan Lucas, M.D.