Expect the Unexpected: 5 Tips for Staying Grounded in the Face of Uncertainty

Grounded in Big Sur

The only sure things in life are death and taxes, right?  But seriously? No one even has a good handle on those.  So we're faced with the fact that we live in an existence that is founded on a constant stream of change and groundlessness.

Last year, I threw my career into major upheaval by leaving a situation that was no longer serving me or my family.

This year, just as I got my business rolling, my schedule settled and my social life balanced with my work life... we got a major curve ball in the form of law school in another state with in-state tuition and a free place to live.

JUST when I thought I was about to put down some real roots in a place that I really wanted to live: BAM.  Bitchslapped by a wave.  (Lessons from Dewey Beach, Eastern Seaboard: Never turn your back on the ocean.)  And it's - quite frankly - just another pulse of change and uncertainty in a lot of years of shifting and pitching and rolling with those waves.

So how does a warrior, athlete, yogi, you name it...ground in the face of all that uncertainty life throws at us?

1. Believe in the Certainty of the Uncertainty

Many times, our fears and lack of grounding comes from The Unexpected blindsiding us with a really well placed right hook.  What would it be like if you expected the unexpected?  Believed that all things change and all decisions are fleeting? Consider keeping an eye on the waves and just deciding to leap up and roll with them, rather than looking for the ground under your salty toes.  (You might even hang on to your favorite sunglasses that way.  Humph.)

2. Meditate. Preferably Outside.

You don't have to raise your chakras to the 9th level or even pronounce chakra (shah-kra) to meditate.  Read through this, then go outside to a little patch of sand or grass and try this grounding meditation:

Close your eyes and let your hands relax by your sides, palms facing forward.  Spread your toes wide and feel the edges of your feet in contact with the ground.  Imagine all the energy in your body shifting downward toward your feet, exiting your feed into the ground and creating roots into the ground.  Then imagine those roots growing deeper and deeper.  Continue sending your fears, hopes and energy into your roots as you exhale, then allow energy and a sense of connection to come up those roots as you inhale.  Take 10-20 breaths like this.

3. Pick Up Heavy Things. Then Put Them Down.  Repeat.

It sounds strange - and I'm mentally chewing through a blog post on this - but lifting heavy and meditation go hand in hand for me.  The SFG system of strength is founded in a "ground-up" approach to strength.  If your feet aren't connected and you're not loading downward into the earth, ain't nothing heavy coming up off the earth.  So - for serious - try a workout of heavy deadlifts, squats, pull ups and presses.  Skip the ballistics that day...just slowly grind out some really nice slow lifts and see how much more solid you feel after.  (Please seek out a certified kettlebll or barbell trainer if you don't have the skills to tackle this one.)

4. Eat Healthy Food and Sleep Well!

Sugar, caffeine and processed carbohydrates have a profound effect on the nervous system, sending it into adrenal overdrive and literally sending energy "up."  (Don't believe me?  Have a triple espresso or a chocolate shake, then try that grounding exercise... unless you're a Jedi, it's tough.)  Healthy, whole foods will help calm the body and, in return, promote healthful sleep to keep your mind calm and focused.

Root vegetables, lean happily sourced protein, temperate region fruits, dark leafy greens and plant-based fats such as almonds and avocados  make a great foundation for a grounded meal plan.  (Literally.  Eat stuff that comes out of the ground.)

5. Do Yoga. Just not Power Yoga.

Yes.  I, a power yoga teacher, just told you not to do power yoga.  Instead, opt for a slow hatha practice - just 5-10 min in the morning and evening - that focuses on moving energy downward and settling the mind into a state of calm.  Downward Facing Dog, Standing/Static Warrior Postures, Forward Folds (standing or seated), Pigeon Pose and Child's Pose are great for this.

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Here's something I can tell you FOR SURE.  With 100% conviction: You'll never get it all figured out.  Life will never quite settle down. Things will always change.  Always.  So take some comfort in the undulation of the waves and practice riding them.  It's scary and absolutely worth it.