A few weeks ago we held a very unique “grounding” workshop at our gardens. It wasn’t the usual kind of container-planting gardening workshop that many are familiar with. It was something quite different. Most of the attendees were not gardeners. Angela Preat, owner of The Lil Yoga Barn and I teamed up to present our attendees with a few hours of a mind, body and spirit balancing evening in the gardens which ended with a bounty of nourishing foods to complete our program.
The first part of the workshop was held in our rondel where people were asked to remove their shoes and socks and take a seat on the cool grass. Angela then led a beautiful meditation followed by some slow, restorative stretching and breathing techniques. The temperature was perfect as the sun cast shadows over the tall grasses and gave everyone a bit of shade. Our guests were able to feel the grass beneath their feet and sink their fingers between the blades as she spoke about how our connection to the earth is important for a balanced body. As they lay on the grass she instructed them to feel as if they were connected to the earth and to visualize themselves rooted in place absorbing earth’s energy.
She explained that there are seven energy centers located in alignment with our spine which connect our spiritual body to our physical body. These energy centers are called “chakras” which comes from the Sanskrit word for wheel. Each of these chakras is a spinning wheel of energy that regulates the energy that flows through our bodies, even though we can’t physically feel it. When we have balanced chakras our physical bodies work in optimum condition. When our chakras are unbalanced our physical bodies are affected and our health declines.
The purpose of this workshop was to show our guests how important it is to have a daily physical connection to the earth and its energy so that the first energy center called the root chakra (Muladhara Chakra) can remain balanced. This chakra is our foundation and is located at the base of the spine. By having this chakra balanced you will feel a sense of stability, security, love for life and a feeling of being grounded.
After Angela’s time connecting with the earth through meditation and gentle stretching, I explained that earth has energy fields and how it recharges the energy our bodies need to ward off free radicals. This energy can be absorbed by getting outside and connecting with nature and gardening or by walking barefoot on grass, ground or sand whenever possible because the rubber soles on our shoes will not allow this energy to pass through however, leather soles would. Walking barefoot on concrete for a few minutes was also suggested.
Since most in attendance were not gardeners, they weren’t familiar with the feeling a gardener gets when she has her hands in the soil. That feeling of belonging, knowing you are in the right place, knowing that this is what matters. I call that feeling “The Gardener’s Solace”. Would I be able to lead these people to discover the joy found in gardening? I secretly hoped so.
I focused my part of our workshop on the soil and its importance to our lives. I spoke about the soil organisms that remain unseen to the naked eye and their importance to the breakdown of dead plant matter left on the ground and how they in turn provided food and moisture uptake for the plants living on top of the ground. I also explained that if the organisms were to be removed, our biosphere on earth would cease to exist and we would not be able to breath, since the plants nourished by these organisms release the oxygen that we need to live and absorb the carbon dioxide that we exhale.
Each person was able to dig their hands into chunks of sod that was edged out around the rondel. They were asked to turn it over to really observe its make-up and feel it with a purpose. They were instructed to notice the underground soil life that was visible in those chunks of sod.
After the soil-searching part of the workshop, everyone washed their hands at a makeshift sink and we headed into the barn for the big finale’.
A feast of “Roasted Root Vegetables” and “Ginger Root Tea” was prepared to make our grounding experience even more pleasurable. I explained how root vegetables such as potatoes which come from tubers and others such as carrots, parsnips, beets, onions and other vegetables that grow underground absorb vitamins and minerals from the soil and pass those minerals to us when we eat them. Interestingly enough, many people say that beets taste like dirt and most of the attendees were reluctant to try them, but after tasting those jewel-toned, sweet, carmelized beets they were believers! Roasted beets are a delicious and nutritious treat and everyone asked how they were prepared.
Eating these roots helps us to balance the root chakra along with providing nourishment to us. If the vegetables happen to be homegrown, that makes it even better because we make a connection to the earth through this act. Planting seeds and nurturing them as they grow into a harvest has its own spirituality. How do you feel when you pick that first ripe tomato?
We ended the evening with “Ginger Root Tea” which was made from fresh ginger steeped in water then cooled and iced. Since ginger is a root, we felt it was the perfect compliment to end our grounding evening. This workshop was so well received, we are planning an encore.
I’m excited about organizing more workshops that will educate others to understand that there really is a universal connection that we have with everything both living and nonliving and how each factor contributes to a healthy ecosystem. If we can’t see it that does not mean that it does not exist. Humans are the caretakers of the earth and it is about time that we all start doing our jobs here.