Down to earth

‘Good planets are hard to find.’

Bumper sticker

When we say someone is ‘down to earth’, we mean it as a compliment. ‘Salt of the earth’ is another expression which implies high praise. To be down to earth means to be grounded, real, not caught up in high-flying fantasies or delusions. Like a grandmother who remembers to feed us as well as listen to our stories, someone who is down to earth doesn’t neglect the practical realities of life – eating good food, taking the time to really listen to others, getting enough sleep at night and giving our bodies a chance to move. It’s easy to get caught up in philosophical abstractions, when sometimes we might just need to sit down with a cup of tea, or potter in the garden for twenty minutes, take the dog for a walk, sit on the verandah and watch the rain.

All around the world, indigenous cultures have for centuries cultivated a close and connected relationship to the land, through ritual, language, art, music and dance. If we live in a modern Western society, we may lack confidence about being able to connect to our natural environment. Yet through mindfulness, being attentive, we can feel the sensations of the ground underneath our feet, hear the natural sounds around us, sense the wind against our skin and the sun on our face.

Many of us enjoy spending time outside gardening, bushwalking or camping. Yet our relationship to nature is complex, to say the least. We want to feel connected to nature as well as protected from it. The comforts and distractions of the modern lifestyle have led to a new phenomenon – ‘nature deficit disorder.’ Even a ten minute walk in a park can lower our anxiety and improve our mood, yet we can go for days without finding the time to do this.

Being ‘down to earth’ requires little except a certain amount of humility, and the willingness to stop, breathe, and notice what’s around us from time to time. It’s about exploring simple solutions first, before always jumping straight into the most convoluted ones. It’s worth stopping from time to time, and asking ourselves,

‘What is really going on right now?’

Are we caught up in the middle of a drama worthy of a Shakespearean tragedy? Or are we actually just a little tired, hungry, or rushed? Mindfulness brings us back to the here and now, and through this it can help to bring us back down to earth.

Weekly practice idea:

Ask yourself occasionally – ‘what is really going on right now?’ Use the question to ground yourself into the here and now, and notice if this makes a difference.

 

Anja Tanhane