My mind is full of ideas. At its best it swims with the flow of information, insight, and creativity, deftly navigating challenges and the unexpected at top speeds. At its worst, the torrent is overwhelming, filling my mind with anxieties or offering more data than I can process. Typically, I’m somewhere in the middle – keeping up with many scraps of paper on which my ideas are scribbled, making order (and sometimes spreadsheets) out of my notes, researching, writing, do-it-yourself-ing, studying, learning foreign languages, tending my herb garden, caring for my family, and working my “day job.”
Throughout most of my many years working with a highly creative brain, I’ve managed this juggling act with varying degrees of success. In high school, I was blessed with a teacher who taught relaxation techniques to the champion cross country team he coached; he also taught some of those techniques to interested students in our French classes. So, from the time I was 16, I began a lifelong journey of practicing techniques to help me center, ground, and manage the flow that is always coming into manifestation through me. It’s still a work-in-progress, but one thing I have learned is that there is a difference between healthy centering and limiting yourself.
It’s odd, this word, “grounding.” On the one hand, it evokes images of roots reaching down into the earth, staying connected to the source of life while drawing in nutrients and cooling moisture. It reminds us to stay centered amidst the swings, to remain rooted as we sway through storms, and to live fully in our bodies, in harmony with and aware of the world around us. On the other hand, we probably have all heard young friends complain about being grounded, not allowed to do what they’re wanting or needing to do. When we hear that our flight is grounded, we feel annoyed that our plans have been spoiled rather than thankful for the centering presence of airline mishaps.
So for the creative thinker, artist, writer, or multipotentialite, one of the trickiest skills to develop is staying grounded without getting grounded. I want to maintain a healthy connection with the reality in which I find myself. I want to create in a way that works with the mechanics of the material world, gently stretching the boundaries of what they say can be done while challenging myself to reach new levels of creativity, fulfillment, and success. At the same time, I don’t want to find myself constrained by external limits that stifle my creativity or smother my spark. I have a light that wants to shine into the world through me, just as you have a light wanting to shine into the world through you. We each have something that we are able to show our communities in ways that others cannot; how can we stay grounded enough to shine that light effectively without becoming so grounded as to fear shining the light, or worse – snuff it out? How can we be grounding forces for each other – supporting each other with intelligence, power, and detail-awareness – without bringing the heavy weight of discouragement, disbelief, and doubt into our interactions with friends who are currently on fire with the spark of creative energy or whose ideas or intuition are flowing freely?
A basic exploration of elemental energetics from the Western esoteric tradition suggests one answer. After all, grounding is simply the centering of earth energy, helping us maintain connection, focus, and direction as we interact with the energetic of the land. Not all work is primarily focused on earth-energy, and while sometimes our work can benefit from the introduction of different energies to balance out a dominant or overpowering element, frequently what’s needed is a centering focus for the energy with which we’re currently working. If we’re doing an intuitive, sensitive, watery work that requires movement through and with intense currents, we don’t need the grounding force of an anchor to hold us in place while the currents batter us – we need support riding the currents, streamlined and sleek, with the occasional deep breath to take us through the next wave. If we’re doing a creative, starry, fiery work that requires us to immerse ourselves in the divine spark to bring new things into fruition, we don’t need the grounding force of dirt dumped on us, smothering the fire and stifling our brilliance – we need fireproofing support, and time set aside each day to reconnect with soothing waters, cool earth, and gentle breezes. If we’re soaring with an intellectual work of research or writing that requires us to go to new heights of thought and belief, we don’t need the grounding force of a stiff tether limiting our heights and yanking us back to earth each time we start to get good lift – we need wings with rudders, and controls to help us navigate the heights with intention and focus.
Ultimately, grounding has its place and is a healthy part of balanced living, but every place is not its place. Every time is not its time. It is not always the primary energetic we need, or need to bring to others, to center important work and maintain steady forward movement. I like to begin most important work with some grounding activity to check-in physically, focus my mind, and assess where I am and where I want to go. Once the work starts, though, I want to be receptive to the work itself, and the kind of energetic it needs to continue flowing freely with focus and clarity. Sometimes I need to come to the surface for air; other times I just need to swim a little deeper. Sometimes I need climb back down to earth; other times I am inches from grasping a new concept or goal. Sometimes I need to smoor the fire for the night so I can try again tomorrow with a fresh perspective; other times the heat is almost intense enough to burn away the impurities and falsehoods. May I continue to grow in my awareness of these nuances in my work, and in the ways I support others in their work.