I go through periods where I start to feel as if my skeleton is trying to jump out of my body. I’m probably not alone here. I’ve seen remarks on various blogospheres and overheard friends saying similar things, so I can at least admit that I’m not alone when I feel this way. It gets to the point, sometimes, where I am so fucking jumpy and uncomfortable in my skin that I feel very much like I’ve been mainlining caffeine for weeks and am now just rushing around on the high. Days and weeks can pass before I even recognize my own patterns enough to realize that I’m having some issues. When it finally dawns on me that I am falling into old patterns – can’t sit still, nothing sounds right when I write it, everything pisses me off, and nothing I do is seemingly good enough – I realize that it’s been a while since I’ve done something to center myself and I should probably work on that.
The thing is, when I first noticed this issue a few years ago, all of the advice I found on those self-help websites was just a load of shit.
In every do-it-yourself guide or “Seven Easy Days to Spiritual Nirvana” type book that is out there, they tell you to ground and center. They tell you to be with the trees and throw down some roots and just go to town with sending all that wonky energy into the earth. They tell you about how that’s the whole point in Mother Earth and just toss it right on down and bring in the good energy that Mother Earth is surely wanting you to have. I tried absolutely everything I could do in order to get down with some trees and send that useless energy right where it belongs. The thing is that I realized something pretty quickly: while I can visualize this all happening, I don’t want to be a fucking tree. I’m a human being with human emotions, which occasionally get so out-of-control that I end up feeling like I’m going to puke our rainbow chunks of emotional cartilage at the next person who looks at me. None of these are things that, I think, trees go through. Besides, if I wanted to be a tree or at least act like a tree, I would have probably have signed up for being a tree in my next life.
I chose to come out a human being and to be a human being, so why the hell am I going to emulate trees? Sure, they’re nice to look at it. They do really awesome things like purify air (or some shit) and they provide shade in the heat. But, I don’t want to emulate one in any context. I just want to get this energy overload out of me.
With every ounce of advice I’ve seen on websites, in books, and going around Tumblr, I’ve just kind of had to shake my head at all and say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” I liken myself to Finn the Human from the episode, Up a Tree, I’m ready to make my break from all of that bullshit. I don’t need a bunch of people trying to induct me into their tree-loving cult. I’ll just go right on ahead and find my own way, but of course, next comes the question: if you can’t ground and center like the people who are “in the know” tell you that you should, then what the fuck are you supposed to do?
Quite often, I think we all forget that as children, we would do things that would ground and center us. We would run around with our friends, ride bikes, climb trees, play games, and do any number of things that, upon reflection, can clearly be seen as acts bent on grounding and centering ourselves. I can’t even tell you how many times a week, when my son is running around like a wild child in somebody’s yard or just generally all over the place with the other kids, that I hear someone say to me, “He is going to sleep well tonight.” And it’s not really that he’s going to run himself down, but that he is subjecting the world and his family and his friends unto the energy build up in his little body, sending it out and into the universe to do what it will while it leaves him a fraction at a time.
To me, it seems like the people from that in-the-tree-part-of-the-tree mentality seem to think that we, as adults, can’t do that or shouldn’t do that. We have to send all of that energy into Mother Earth while we take energy in return. And I think, people, as a whole, frown on the idea of adults doing the things that children do in order to release all of that pent up energy. But honestly, I have to say that’s bollocks (both parts). If it works for a bunch of six-year-olds, playing hide-and-go-seek and shouting their fool heads off, why can’t we, as adults, do the same fucking thing but with adult-like things? Not doing that, in my opinion, doesn’t make a damn lick of sense when it did fifteen, twenty, thirty, or more years ago when we were all just children, shouting into the darkness with our friends.
When I first realized that I wasn’t going to be able or willing to follow what everyone always said “worked,” I have to admit that I flailed a bit. There is something almost comforting in the idea of being like everyone else. It means that what they do will absolutely work for you and whatever hard work one must put in to discover what works for the individual is not your problem. However, I am an individual and while I think trees are fucking nifty, I’m not going to act like one because I’m out of sorts and overly bitchy. This, of course, meant that I had to start figuring out how to get to that magical state, or really mundane state, of not-going-to-kill-bitches-today. While killing someone is probably highly therapeutic, the court system highly frowns on such practices. So for those of us – because I know that I’m not alone here – who aren’t down with the tree shenanigans, it means it’s time for some trial and error.
Some good news, though, about my having felt as if my skeleton were getting ready to go around on walkabout is that I have a list of possibilities! The bad news is that it is going to take whatever intrepid reader is interested in exploring these options some trial and error before they figure out what works best for them. Again, as much fun as it may be to be like everyone else, we are all individuals. What works for me isn’t necessarily going to work for anyone else reading this. But perhaps, by offering these suggestions, it will give people worried and freaking out (and possibly seconds away from ripping off peoples’ faces) something to consider before they get to the breaking point (and possibly rip off peoples’ faces).
I think this is probably one of the biggest suggestions that people of the not-a-tree persuasion recommend. And I honestly have to admit that I don’t listen to this advice very often. I should, though, because there is just something about getting hot and sweaty, heart-pumping and booty-shaking that can really bring things into focus or loose them into the atmosphere to disappear on the a wave of pent-up energy. And the act of dancing doesn’t even have to be anything over-the-top, either. Sometimes, I don’t have the ability to do much actual dancing for lots of reasons: self-conscious, not enough room, stuck in a car, etc. So, sometimes, to me, releasing that pent-up, fuck-off-everything energy is as simple as tapping my feet or fingers to the beat of whatever is on the radio. Or, maybe it’s wiggling my butt while I’m sitting on the couch writing a blog entry (as I am actually doing right this moment). But sometimes, you actually need to get up and just fucking go with it, with a partner or without. Whatever the case may be, dancing should definitely top the lists of all people in the not-a-tree group of individuals.
The song, in my experience, doesn’t even really matter, either. I will dance to whatever the fuck I want to, whenever the fuck I want to. I’ve spent whole days listening to 50s classic rock and dancing the out-of-sorts a way. I’ve spent my drives home from work, overwrought from a long day of intense bullshit, listening to something like Painkiller by Three Days Grace or Desperately Wanting by Better than Ezra in an effort to get that feeling out of my bones. Right now, I’m actually obsessively listening to Timber by Pitbull feat Kesha while I wiggle this shit right the hell out of my system. Whatever the hell you choose is entirely up to you and how the fuck you get your body moving doesn’t matter; the only thing that matters is that you get your ass in gear and start moving.
This probably goes hand-in-hand with dancing. I think it’s one of the more popular recommendations out there for those of us who don’t belong to the part-of-the-tree group of people. As with dancing, it is the act of doing something that gives you what you need in order to release all of that fuck-shit-up energy going on with you. I spent a lot of time, for months, just walking randomly wherever the hell my feet were willing to take me. I had no particular goal in mind because it wasn’t the act of walking that was important. The important part was that I was feeling incredibly out of control with everything going on around me and I needed a form of escape. To me, becoming one with the trees doesn’t help me when I want to escape the “rah” screaming fits that I may feel deep inside. However, doing something, like dancing or walking, was exactly what I needed in order to get out from under the pressure of the energy build up.
I would spend hours walking around my neighborhood, just putting one foot in front of the other. Sometimes, I would listen to music as I walked and sometimes, I didn’t. It all depended on how quickly I needed to get somewhere before I felt like I was going to rip someone’s face off or break into a thousand pieces because of the overload going on. Whatever the case may be, it was the act of actually moving that helped me to focus my mind long enough to try and find a way out from underneath everything that was poking my insides and making me feel as if I was getting ready to jump out of my skin.
It was only when I was unemployed that I realized how much I really enjoyed baking. It’s an organized activity that requires (if you’re following a new recipe, at least) exact requirements and attention. This appeased my obsessive compulsive side. However, the act of actually mixing everything together is just a mind-numbing enough project to not really require you to pay attention it. It was a perfect mix to make both sides of my personality feel at peace. And each action – by adding an ingredient – can help to release some of the pent up aggression/out-of-sort/da-fuck-am-I-feeling that’s going on. As the process of baking goes on, I start to slip into the rhythm of it. It gives me something to focus on enough to not feel as if everything I am attempting to do is going to turn into some fucked up piece of shit, but it also gives me enough creativity to allow myself a little free reign with what I’m making. And the more you do it, the more comfortable you get with the overall process, so you’re less likely to behave like a wreck when you’re adding new things.
But each action that is required for the overall baking process can be used to release some tension in specific areas, too, which is why I think it’s such a good way to get my head back to where I need it to be (under my skin). Cracking eggs? Good for being pissed off and needing to take some anger out on something. Need to make sure butter is soft before adding it? Good for staring moodily into space while you get your head in the game. Measuring out enough flour? Good for control freaks feeling out-of-control. You see? Every aspect to baking can be used to help bring your head back under control in some context. If that’s not fucking awesome, then seriously, what the fuck is?
I hate doing laundry and I hate cleaning, but I don’t actually mind doing the dishes. (Sh, no one tell my ex-husband and my ex-roommate that because, let me tell you, I put up some damn fights about washing the dishes.) During the phase that I was unemployed, it was a simple enough chore to get done early in the morning. And it was during this chore that I found that I had the ability to let my mind wander enough to figure out whatever may have been bothering me at the time. There is something about mindless actions, specifically the repetitive actions, that calms my mind enough to focus on something long enough to start to explore why I may be feeling so out-of-sorts. Occasionally, I’ll find that I have absolutely no fucking reason and it’s because, well, I’ve been so do-do-do that I’ve stopped to take time for myself. And while doing something as chore-like as the dishes might not seem like taking time out for oneself, it is in my book. My hands are busy and it’s something that I can’t really fuck up, but my mind isn’t busy and it’s able to traverse whatever little rambling road it may feel like walking down. It’s actually when I’m doing the dishes that I have some of my more intense epiphanies regarding my religious path, so I suppose it’s something akin to meditating (which isn’t something I am able to do). But it’s also the time when I am able to stop whatever the fuck wildness is going on in my life long enough to come back to myself feeling a little relieved and a lot less as if my skin is going to jump right the fuck off my bones.
And with baking, the very act of cleansing the dishes can be seen as an overall metaphor for grounding and centering. The dishes are dirty – they’re a metaphor for how cray-cray the feelings are getting. The soap and sponge are the act of meditating into the state where you can finally find your center. The rinsing off of the soap is the grounding as you send the nasty fucked up energy off into the sewer system. You see? Even though I’m not a fan of the whole part-of-the-tree cliques out there, I can still find the metaphor useful when I find something much more workable, for me.
5. Card Shuffling
It’s difficult for people, I think, in my particular individualistic ground-and-centering genre to meditate like the be-like-trees group tend to talk about it. They tend to make it seem like a very mystical experience and I get that, to a degree. However, I have found that I can’t really mediate, which may be why I have a hard time with the be-a-tree mentality. Whatever the case may be, I’ve found that many of my grounding and centering techniques are a form of meditation that allow me to let loose long enough to release the pent up energy going on inside. Part of these acts is shuffling any one of my myriad of Tarot decks. The act of actually shuffling the deck quiets my mind enough to settle on whatever it is that may be causing me to feel so out-of-control to finally get it under control.
By shuffling, I’m giving myself the quiet time that my body needs in order to get to where it should be. And the act of actually pulling the cards is me flicking the excess energy into the universe, while also seeking all of the Tarot answers that may be available to me.
This isn’t the complete list of things that I’ve found to aid me with grounding and centering. Depending on the situation, and just how overwrought I may be feeling, I may do something smaller or something more expansive than what I’ve listed here. The point being that it’s not all sitting around and trying to act like trees. Sometimes, it really is just all about getting up and fucking moving enough to unleash the turmoil going on deep inside by whatever [legal] means necessary.