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I love summer.

Despite its signature heat and humidity, I love the long, sunny days, all the growth and abundance and berries and watermelon. I also know that especially in the hot height of summer, I need to stay grounded. All that swirling, rising heat energy requires grounding my body, mind and heart. Summer is a time for meditation, siestas, being near water and sitting in the sand.

For me, it’s also a time for connection: gathering fresh fruit and vegetables (either from a garden, a blueberry bush or Misfit Market!), walking in the forest or near water, visiting and entertaining friends and family. (Conversely, I think this is why I winter holiday parties when my energy is quiet and attention is inward totally do not work for me.)

These dual needs for grounding and reaching, are reflected in the very design of the human body: in particular the lower legs and forearms. Take a look at the bone structure of the lower arms and legs:

On the surface of it, the two structures look almost identical: two bones next to each other, one noticeably larger than the other, the ends of which connect to similar structures — a hinge joint at one end and a gliding synovial joint at the other. But while the forms looks the same, their functions are not. The bones of the lower leg are designed to stabilize and ground while the bones of the lower arm are designed to flow and reach out.

The forearms and lower legs are the Bones of Summer.

The two lower leg bones are the tibia and the fibula. The second longest bone in the body, the tibia runs along the inside of the lower leg, attaching to the femur/thigh bone at the top and the ankle at the bottom. Run your fingers along what you think of as your shin bone and you are feeling your tibia. The fibula is another long bone but is narrower and runs parallel to and acts as support of the tibia. In the lower leg, the tibia provides strength and weight-bearing while the fibula provides mobility and range of motion with stability being primary focus of the lower leg.

The forearm bones are the radius, on the thumb-side of the arm, and the ulna that runs down the pinkie side of the arm. Similar to the leg bones, these bones provide both strength and mobility but in the arm, the focus is on mobility. The structure of the joints in the forearm allow the radius to rotate around the ulna — the only two bones in the body that cross each other! — which allows the hand and wrist to rotate more completely than the foot (thank goodness, that wouldn’t go well). This intricate design allows extraordinary flexibility and dexterity for everything from lifting heavy boxes to doing caligraphy.

The Bones of Summer remind us that when energy is moving and things heat up, we need to stay both grounded and fluid. We need to rest in the support of the earth under us but also reach out and connect to the ripening fruit of the season. Both stability and mobility are nourishing to the body in the summer heat and the same is true for the mind and heart.

To skillfully navigate a heated situation — rising anger, an intense disagreement or a hot political conflict —  we need to stay both grounded and fluid. Feel yourself present and rooted as well as open and expansive. It can help me to feel my feet and legs (maybe even feeling my feet or legs with my hands) and also breathe and reach out for connection and perspective. So when I get tangled in a Facebook morass, for example, I can feel my body and breath and also go outside, pet the cat and get a hug from my level-headed husband. This connection to both stability and mobility are what allows relaxation, a settling of stirred-up energy as well as openness to possibility and solution.

Hot summer days can be full of pleasure but they can also stir me up and get me over-stimulated. I have to remind myself to find strength and support as well as openness and connection. Walks in the woods, resting on rocks in a river and picking berries from the vine offer ancient balance to the heat of the season. However you navigate the heat, connect with the Bones of Summer in the lower legs and forearms for a physical sensation of grounded fluidity.

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(Clarity + Simplicity) Kindness grounded feetAll movement requires stability. The body must be grounded somewhere in order to create flexibility, strength, mobility, agility … anything.

Stability is sometimes described as energy moving out from center in all directions equally. (Nice, but a little all-over-the-place and counter-intuitive.)

Grounded is sometimes described as planting and rooting down into the earth. (Physically understandable but gets a little heavy.)

What if I get grounded and stable through clarity and simplicity? Focus on clear and simple, and the body finds its stability.

But true stability does not come with harshness. Be kind, too, with that simple clarity.

Grounded = (Clarity + Simplicity) Kindness

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????“Grounded is clarity and simplicity.” ~ Mia Hamza

Stability is the mother of all movement sensations. Without stability, no other movement is possible. Given the reality of our bodies moving in gravity, we have to stabilize against the earth and against our bones in order to move.

As a teacher and a mover, I know that stability is essential, but I sometimes am at a loss about how to explain it.

Nia describes the sensation of stability as “energy moving out from center in all directions equally.” I love the sensual nature of this description but in some ways it’s counter-intuitive.

Many teachers, including me, describe stability as being “grounded.”

“Ground into the four corners of your feet.”
“Ground the outside edge of your foot into the mat.”
“Ground into your legs.”

In a recent yoga class with Mia Hamza, though, she spoke practically about grounded stability.

“To get grounded,” she said, “get clear and keep it simple.”

I was surprised that she wasn’t talking about planting the edges of my feet or spreading my toes or rooting my energy into the earth. But hey, I’m a mover and a writer so I was happy to play with Mia’s mathematical poetry

Grounded = Clarity + Simplicity

As I practiced, I kept a little mantra going of “clear and simple, clear and simple.” Sure enough, when I’m not sure what to do, if I’m not clear in my movement and alignment choices, my poses take on a confusing, unbalanced feel. If I compare myself to the next door yogi or think about my current writing project, I am as likely as not to tip over.

Grounded = Clarity + Simplicity

When Mia gave an instruction, I paused and asked myself how can I make this clear and simple? My body figured out the physical details if my mind focused on simplicity and clarity. However, an edge crept into my internal dialog. My mind hijacked the whole situation and cracked down with harshness about what I should be doing more clearly, more simply and better (or how I should just be better general, for crying out loud).

So I altered her mathematics to

Grounded = (Clarity + Simplicity) Kindness

Whatever Grounding choices I make in the name of Clarity and Simplicity needs to be multiplied with Kindness.

Since Mia’s class, I notice that Grounded = (Clarity + Simplicity) Kindness is true for more than physical movement.

A grounded conversation is one that doesn’t go too fast or spiral into reactivity. A conversation that is clear, simple and kind stabilizes the connection between people.

Grounded = (Clarity + Simplicity) Kindness

A grounded decision begins with identifying clearly what is most important. I feel stable in decisions that are made with clarity and simplicity and infused with kindness (even if execution of those decisions might be more complicated or unclear or even (gasp!) disappoint someone).

Grounded = (Clarity + Simplicity) Kindness

The most grounded people I know keep things simple, clear, and kind ~ in their words, their actions, their lives. When I’m not grounded, I tend toward cascades of complicated thinking, dominoes of distracted action, laced with assy comments.

Grounded = (Clarity + Simplicity) Kindness

Grounded stability allows for all movement and change in the body … and for any movement and change in our lives. If I want to create stability in any realm, my focus is clearly and simply on being clear, simple and kind.

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