Four Stages Of Groundedness

John J. Prendergast

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The ground is both a metaphor and a felt sense. As a metaphor, it means to be in touch with reality. As a felt sense, it refers to feeling our center of gravity low in the belly and experiencing a deep silence, stability, and connection with the whole of life. Feeling grounded does not require contact with the earth; it can happen anywhere and anytime — even when we’re flat on our backs in a rowboat.

Reality is inherently grounding. The more in touch with it we are, the more grounded we feel. This is as true of the facts of daily life as it is of our true nature. Life is multidimensional, ranging from the physical to the subtle to formless awareness. When we are in touch with physical reality, we feel physically grounded. As subtle levels of feeling and energy unfold, we feel subtly grounded. When we know ourselves as open awareness, not separate from anything, we rest in and as our deepest ground that is sometimes called our homeground or groundless ground.

As attention deepens and opens, our experience of and identification with the physical body changes. Our felt sense of the ground shifts accordingly. After decades of working with clients and students, I have observed a continuum of groundedness that spans four broad experiential stages: a) no ground: I am not in my body; b) Foreground: I am in my body; c) background: my body is in me (as open awareness); d) homeground: Everything is my body (as open awareness).

[...] As we attune with inner knowing, we experience a deep relaxation in the core of our body and a growing sense of groundedness. However, most of us are in a state of chronic inner tension as we try to subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) control ourselves and the environment. Some of this tension is concerned with biological survival, while most of it is concerned with psychological survival — the preservation of the self-image. The psychological self — the little me — is always insecure and defends itself against potential annihilation. This manifests in the body as an attempt to hold ourselves up and in with an inner grip or core contraction. We can be forced to release this grip when we encounter a crisis that makes us let go of the illusion of control and/or brings the insight that it is futile and more painful to try to hang on. The chronic grip also softens as we live more authentically, both personally and essentially. Feeling held by something greater than our limited self also allows the letting go to happen more gracefully. Letting go requires trusting in life — no matter what.

Reality is inherently grounding. The more in touch with it we are, the more grounded we feel. [...] Reality can be temporarily ungrounding when we have been living out of accord with it, and yet there is a continuum of groundedness with distinctive stages that sometimes coexist.

Excerpted from John J. Prendergast's book: Relaxed Groundedness  He is the founder and editor-in-chief of Undivided: The Online Journal of Nonduality and Psychology.

Seed questions for reflection: How do you relate to the notion that reality is inherently grounding? Can you share your experience of moving through the stages of groundedness? What helps you grow in your sense of groundedness?

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6 Previous Reflections:

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    On Jan 10, 2021 Teafaye Meles Johanson wrote:
    One love and may our world find the peace it deserves. My name is Tesfaye Meles Johanson and I am writingfrom my small village in Ethiopia from the land of Lucy. As I wake up around the same time every morning I thank the life forces given to me for the day ahead and to be grateful, some people don't wake up. It's 6:00am in the morning and not a sound is heard as think about the war up north with sadden. My Afar tribe are somewhat worries of the unknown and the virus empty handed With endless promise from Lucy, it's been over a year now since I have arrived. I don't speak a word as I reflect where I am again. I take a cold shower which I believe is healing and right after head for breakfast cause the rest are still asleep. Spend a few hours in the village downtown with childhood friends, than head straight back home to my own peaceful roomcircle, fast cleaning of the room and take a quick shower thanI don't speak to a soul for many hours. A the Ethiopian health mini... [View Full Comment] One love and may our world find the peace it deserves. My name is Tesfaye Meles Johanson and I am writingfrom my small village in Ethiopia from the land of Lucy. As I wake up around the same time every morning I thank the life forces given to me for the day ahead and to be grateful, some people don't wake up.
    It's 6:00am in the morning and not a sound is heard as think about the war up north with sadden.
    My Afar tribe are somewhat worries of the unknown and the virus empty handed With endless promise from Lucy, it's been over a year now since I have arrived. I don't speak a word as I reflect where I am again.
    I take a cold shower which I believe is healing and right after head for breakfast cause the rest are still asleep.
    Spend a few hours in the village downtown with childhood friends, than head straight back home to my own peaceful roomcircle, fast cleaning of the room and take a quick shower thanI don't speak to a soul for many hours.
    A the Ethiopian health ministry recommends it also and sad many don't understand the gift of taking a look at self.
    The war is coming to an end hopefully soon while I am missing all of you.
    One love, Tesfaye Meles Johanson

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    On Jan 7, 2021 Deborah Watson wrote:
    "However, most of us are in a state of chronic inner tension as we try to subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) control ourselves and the environment."
    Forme, this statement is one of the keys to my physical, mental, spiritual happiness. I am unable to be completely grounded if I am holding and unaware of my excess tension.

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    On Dec 31, 2020 Sandip Sheta wrote:
    Change is a continuous process. You cannot assess it with the static yardstick of a limited time frame. When a seed is sown into the ground, you cannot immediately see the plant. You have to be patient. With time, it grows into a large tree. And then the flowers bloom, and only then can the fruits be plucked.

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    On Dec 29, 2020 Deven Pravin Shah wrote:
    This reminded me one more time to allow the present moment as it is, not to deny what my mind thinks not so pleasant, nor to frame it for something from the desired outcome in the future.

    Let the present moment be. Even when my mind takes me to the fantasy land, my body is here in the present.

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    On Dec 26, 2020 David Doane wrote:
    What is reality for you is what you are grounded in. You can be grounded in so many things, including ego, money, sex, power, drugs, friends, video games, job, family, religion, spirituality, consciousness, God. Significant stages ofgroundedness for me have been my family of origin, my religion, my profession, marriage and family, self, aham brahmasmi. I was originally not of the world, then in the world, then in the world but not of it, and am becoming not of it but of the unmanifest. What helps me grow in my sense of groundedness is openness, learning, experience, awareness.

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    On Dec 25, 2020 Jagdish P Dave wrote:
    Who am I? What is reality? Is everything changing? Is there something unchanging? Am I born with it? How do I know? I have been exploring these kinds of questions for quite some time. When my mind is silent I have a clear felt sense of open awareness. My mind is clear. my heart is open. I rest in the deepest ground which John J. Prendergrast calls our home ground or groundless ground. There is a continuum of groundedness. The author lists four broad experiential stages of groundedness: (a) no ground: I am not in the body. (b) foreground: I am in the body. (C) background: my body is me (as open awareness). (D) Homeground: Everything is my body. When I meditate I go through these sages of natural awareness. (a) I realize that I have a body but I- the soul-am not the body. (b) My soul is in the body. (c) When I become aware of the boundless nature of the soul I realize that my body is contained in thecontainer of natural awareness. (d) The disconnect between different parts of my self go... [View Full Comment] Who am I? What is reality? Is everything changing? Is there something unchanging? Am I born with it? How do I know? I have been exploring these kinds of questions for quite some time. When my mind is silent I have a clear felt sense of open awareness. My mind is clear. my heart is open. I rest in the deepest ground which John J. Prendergrast calls our home ground or groundless ground.

    There is a continuum of groundedness. The author lists four broad experiential stages of groundedness: (a) no ground: I am not in the body. (b) foreground: I am in the body. (C) background: my body is me (as open awareness). (D) Homeground: Everything is my body. When I meditate I go through these sages of natural awareness. (a) I realize that I have a body but I- the soul-am not the body. (b) My soul is in the body. (c) When I become aware of the boundless nature of the soul I realize that my body is contained in thecontainer of natural awareness. (d) The disconnect between different parts of my self goes away. I am in the homeground. I have difficulty i understandingwhat the author means by saying " Everything is my body."

    Natural awareness without inner obstructions helps me grow in my senses of groundedness. when I practice Mindfulness Meditation, my mind becomes
    attentive and does not get carried away by wandering thoughts,feelings, and desires. Meditation opens up doors to be connectedwith what is happening in the present moment. Meditative experienceis not bound by time and space.
    Namaste!
    Jagdish P Dave'



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