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Grounded

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By the calendar, March is the inception of spring. It signals a turnover, a transformation in weather, a new beginning for seeds and plant life. In the coming months, leaves will burst into fullness, spreading their proud hands towards the sky, flowers will bloom with a cheerful luster, and even fruits and vegetables will crop up with gusto.

But first is the seed. The fate of the entire plant rests on the tiny seed. It has been dormant and quiet in the winter months. It has hunkered into the soil, hiding from the harsh elements of winter. And now with the approach of spring, it must gather its strength, soak in the nourishment and water it needs to emerge strong and to confidently take shape as a vibrant plant.

Much like the valiant seed, I spent March gathering my strength.  I challenged myself to be present, poised, strong, and focused in all that I did. Inspired by a strong dancer in my class (as described here), I decided to put my energy into my current actions. I pushed myself to stop looking anxiously at the next step and instead to bring precision to the movement happening now, to engage in my current action with strength and confidence while being controlled and focused. Only then could I be present and poised, rather than fumbling through each movement in the name of worrying about what should follow.

In dance, this challenge was quite clear to carry out. I stopped rushing in anticipation and started pulling power and action into each move. In my own life I tried to manifest this challenge through physical engagement. I committed to doing three sun salutations each day and required of myself that I include three strong poses in each sun salutation. I paused in Warrior II, I held – and fell from, then held again – Crow, and I fumbled and fudged into somewhat controlled Split Leg Arm Balance.

Many days my sun salutations were a welcome activity. Some nights I cursed as I threw off the covers, knowing that I could not, in good conscience, go to bed without completing my daily challenge. But always, once I jumped my feet back to Plank and moved through Chaturanga Dandasana, I felt strong and engaged. The rest of the sun salutations flowed from me as I flowed through them.

I gave myself other physical challenges, like doing Plank everyday, slowly increasing the time for which I held the position. I did circuits with arm and ab strengthening moves. I did lunges and wall sits and mountain climbers galore. And by the end of the month, my body felt stronger.

But just like all of my challenges, the physical component of the month’s activities is merely a metaphor for the internal changes taking shape simultaneously. As I planked and pushed and posed, I also felt stronger internally. I engaged my mind in the act of not engaging – I let go of the anticipatory thinking and became present and poised. I drew power from within and felt confident in…me! I worried less about how my thighs might look in a bathing suit in a few weeks. I took stock in where I was and gave myself space to accept it, rather than shamefully angsting about where I should be.

In short, I felt grounded in a way I hadn’t in far too many months, or years. Like a seed gathering itself for a spring emergence, I felt better prepared for a rebirth, to move forward with my challenges, to start reaching beyond myself, to grow and meander in new ways on this quest towards rebalance.

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