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Meditation of the Day:
The Earth Is My Witness: Letting go of what you don’t need
Purpose: to help you be more peaceful, centered, stable and grounded.
Posture: comfortable, but alert; preferably with a straight spine.
Begin by taking a deep cleansing breath in and out. This helps you start to let go of whatever you’re carrying, which allows you to be more open and present. Slowly take one more deep breath.
You are sitting on the earth, touching it with your body. See if you can begin to feel grounded and stable as you contemplate your connection with the earth. You are part of the earth. Your body is created out of the same elements that the earth is made of. Feel gravity gently hugging you downward, keeping you here.
You are the life-force of the earth. Feel your connection to it as you sit on it. You are solid, like a mountain. You are home. Feel yourself rooted to the earth, and imagine that you actually have roots growing downward, traveling through the floor, into the ground, and all the way to the center of the earth. Take a moment to breathe and visualize these roots connecting you to the earth.
Now let’s begin to release the burdens and difficulties you are carrying around and allow them to drain down through those roots and into the earth.
Begin with your thoughts. We all have a constant onslaught of thoughts, plans, memories, expectations and fears. Thoughts that consume you, are negative, or otherwise feel burdensome don’t serve you in any way. Just notice for a moment the river of these kinds of negative thoughts swirling around in your mind. Try to observe their existence without getting caught up in them. Then exhale and begin to let them go. Feel those thoughts travel down through your body, though the roots, leaving your body and draining into the center of the earth. Once more, exhale and release the burdens you carry in your head, watch them dissipate into the ground, and allow your mind to be a little more clear and open.
Our thoughts often lead to stress and tension which show up physically in our bodies. You may not realize it, but these negative energies are always held somewhere in the body. Let’s see if you can release some of it.
Feel the tensions you are carrying in your face - tears that have been around your eyes, tension in your cheeks and jaw from fear, stress or anger. Notice anywhere in your face that you are holding burdens and negative energy. Notice how that feels in your face. Then exhale and let them go. Feel the negative energy you’re holding in your face travel down through your body, though the roots, leaving your body. Watch them dissipate into the ground, and let your face relax as you breathe freely. Work with your exhales in this way a few more times.
Next, notice what you’re holding in your neck and shoulders - the weight you’ve been carrying around, like a backpack full of burdens, struggles and concerns. Imagine that you’re taking that backpack off, and releasing everything that’s in it so that it all drains down through your body, down through the roots, and is now carried away from you by the earth. Exhale several times and let it all empty out of you, as best as you can. Imagine that all that’s left is the strength and courage of your shoulders, which are now relaxed and open, easy and gracious in the midst of difficulties.
Move your attention next to your chest, your heart space. Be aware of how it feels to be carrying burdens there like aches, wishes, longings, sadness, grief, betrayal, matters of the heart. Exhale and let all this suffering release into the earth. Soften your heart as you let sorrows travel down through your body and out through the roots. Watch sadness and betrayal leave you and dissipate into the earth with each exhale. Imagine that what’s left is an open heart, filled with wisdom and compassion.
Next pay attention to your gut, the solar plexus, where you may feel anger, frustration, the need to control things. Here, you might notice anxious feelings, tightness, or worry. For the next few breaths, just notice what you’re holding in your gut and how that feels. Then work with your exhales, imagining that you’re emptying your upper abdomen of all that stuff you don’t need. Watch anger and frustration drain down through your legs, out through the roots, and be absorbed by the earth. Let go of control and anxiety. Continue letting a little more go with each exhale.
Focus your awareness now on your hips and pelvis. Notice how your pelvis supports your torso in the same way the earth supports all of you. Feel any tensions, burdens, conflicts, traumas and fears you are holding in your hips and pelvis. Then with your exhales, release them and let them gradually drain away, disappearing into the earth. Focus especially on the hips, letting them relax as you watch negative energy drain out of them.
Finally, feel the way you are holding stress and tension in your thighs and calves. Really notice the thigh and calf muscles and how any negative energy you’re holding may feel there. Then work again with your exhales, letting stress and tension release out the bottoms of your feet, though the roots, and into the ground.
Rest in your breath for a moment and notice how your body feels now. Feel supported by the earth and your own capacity to be present. The earth is now carrying your burdens, and the earth is your witness as you sit with clarity, strength and openness. Rest in stillness and silence as your body continues to clear and your mind continues to quiet with ease and understanding. You are steady, stable and centered.
(Adapted from teachings by Jack Kornfield)
(Image: ”Beneath the Surface - Silhouette” by Christian Aare, Finland)