Erika Shevchek: The simplicity of raw meditation
“If you find yourself half naked
and barefoot in the frosty grass, hearing,
again, the earth's great, sonorous moan that says
you are the air of the now and gone, that says
all you love will turn to dust,
and will meet you there, do not
raise your fist. Do not raise
your small voice against it. And do not
take cover. Instead, curl your toes
into the grass, watch the cloud
ascending from your lips. Walk
through the garden's dormant splendor.
Say only, thank you.
- Ross Gay
I like to think back to when I was a kid, running in my backyard, imagining I was in some different universe. I was fighting off yet another mythical creature. My heels slamming against the dirt, my toes zipping through the blades of grass. I was unstoppable.
Many kids are told to put on their shoes before they leave the house, preparing them for rocks, sticks, glass and other existing entities that are known to hurt them. But never, in my adolescence nor now, do I want to wear shoes. I despise creating that barrier between my human body and Earth’s surface; the space that disallows my barefeet to settle into the grass.
For anyone who meditates, they know that nature tends to heighten the experience. There’s the soothing sound of wind, insects or waves, and even the relieving freshness of mountain-top air. There is the sense of truly indulging yourself in the outdoors. And most importantly, it’s about touching the bare Earth itself, in all of its matter and magic, that guides one into a raw, soulful meditation.
Poet Ross Gay translates this in his piece “Thank You.” He writes, “Instead, curl your toes / into the grass, watch the cloud / ascending from your lips…” allowing his words to paint the reader a picture of nature’s pure beauty and bliss. After reading this entire poem, I found multiple angles in which one could interpret the piece. Nevertheless, I like to think that it can directly translate to meditation and the overwhelming dominance that nature has against humans.
In this case, nature is not working against the human mind or body. Instead, she is bringing one closer to her sweet serenity –– curling our human toes into the grass, the soil, the sand. It’s this soulful connection that can be felt when we physically sink ourselves into the Earth.
This type of meditation, one where you place your barefeet or walk in the grass for about 20 minutes, has many different titles. “Earthing” and “grounding” meditations are popular names, yet there is something that is rightfully unrefined about this process that makes it simply natural –– simply raw.
Sure, we are humans and not hobbits; we can’t just trek mountains and sharp rocks with the bare souls of our feet. No one knows what lies in the grass or in the soil, and one may be afraid to step on something that feels uncomfortable or could harm them. But maybe that unsettling feeling is the point. Everyday, people wake up and face the day, not knowing what will happen –– that slightest, most native feeling of anxiety.
That is the the purpose of this meditation: To trust your body and mind to walk into nature’s unending, mysterious universe. The possibilities of nature are limitless and frightening, but surely that is what it means to be human too.
So, I tell myself that I can be that fearless little kid again, running through the grass and dirt of my backyard. That little kid that doesn’t worry, but is joyfully living and joyfully, simply, being. This meditation is what brings me back to that state.
The simplicity of raw meditation is that it is accessible, it is natural, and it is trustworthy. After this practice, one feels grounded and connected. Those who practice this knows that they are one with the Earth. Who ever thought that nature could teach us how to trust ourselves?
And if mediation is still a new concept for you, take Ross Gay’s words for advice: “Walk through the garden's dormant splendor. / Say only, thank you. Thank you.”