What a Thai Motorbike Accident Taught Me About Grounding

Latest posts by Pamela Herrick (see all)

Grounding, quite simply, is rootedness. Rather than spinning in your head, when you are grounded you are in your body, and you feel connected.

Feeling grounded, really grounded, is an aspect of mindfulness. Your mind connects with your body. Your body connects to the earth. You are in touch with your emotions, but not governed by them.

Perhaps you feel grounded in your yoga class, on your morning run or on the meditation cushion, but we cannot always be in yoga class, on a run or on our cushions. How do we stay grounded and connected as we live our over-filled lives?

Let me give you an example (with a little back-story). I am a Thai massage therapist and teacher and have been since 2001. Yes, I am in the grounding business. My work has taken me to Thailand where I lived for several years, married a Thai man and gave birth to my son. During that time, I made my home in Chiang Mai, a beautiful city at the foothills of the northern mountains, a city filled with country people.

One afternoon as I pushed the stroller along a sidewalk in Chiang Mai, two little Thai motorbikes got into an accident in front of me. Now, motorbikes are the preferred vehicle for Thai people and children are raised on them, literally. To say that Thai people are completely at home on their motorbikes misses the point. They carry their kids (all three of them at once), their dogs and their groceries on them with a sense of balance and relaxation I could never manage.

So when these two little motorbikes touched each otherʼs handle bars in the intersection and spilled the riders to the pavement, it was a surprise to us all.

Imagine what happened next.

The first thing each rider did, before checking themselves or their motorbikes for damage, was this. They placed their hands together in the prayer position at their lips, lowered their heads and rushed toward each other. Why? To ask forgiveness and to make sure the stranger they had just spilled to the pavement was alright. They laughed. They dusted each other off. They picked up each otherʼs motorbikes, and they went their separate ways smiling.

No yelling. No blaming. No kidding. Imagine that same accident in your neighborhood.

Hmm. Why the difference? To me it is this. Thai people are, by and large, grounded. They do not spin in their heads. They are connected to the earth, to the present moment and most importantly to each other.

To be grounded is much more than the experience we have on the yoga mat or on the meditation cushion. To be grounded is to connect.

Yes, we know that grounding connects us with ourselves, but more importantly grounding allows us to more fully connect with others. When we are grounded, we make easy connection to those we love, those we work with and even those we meet on the street.

If we accept that learning to be grounded (or not) is cultural, what are we to do here in the Western world? My mamma didnʼt teach me to be grounded. I am sure she never gave it a thought, but all is not lost. We take it one step at a time. Most of it is common sense in the end.

Here’s What My Thai Family Taught Me About Grounding

Worry is pointless (of course, because it makes you spin in your head). Taking care of each other is a duty and an honor (and gives life real meaning). And, itʼs never too early to start planning tonightʼs dinner (seriously, planning, preparing and sharing food is a centering activity in a Thai household).

I could recommend to you exercises to help you feel more grounded, but those would have a small, and probably short-term effect. Letʼs think bigger. Letʼs think about connection.

Hereʼs my list to help you, offered up gently, not in a we-in-the-West-are- bad, those-in-the-East-are-good kind of way. Just in the way my sweet Thai sister would, “Here, Pam. Try this. Do you like it?” With a smile, of course.

  • Spend less time alone, especially at home.
  • Look at, listen to and touch the people in your life more than usual. Drop the worries. Really.
  • Help someone for no reason, and then do it again. Smile at strangers.
  • Oh, and start talking about whatʼs for dinner at breakfast!
  • Make gathering for meals a centering activity for everyone under your roof.

When I moved back to New Yorkʼs Hudson River Valley after my years in Thailand, friends told me I seemed softer and more relaxed. At the time, I didnʼt really understand. I had a toddler and a busy Thai massage practice much the same as before. But, Thailand has taught me many lessons, and I am working through them day by day.

Borrow a few of them for your own life. It will help you feel more grounded.

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