Grounding Yourself

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I’m not a teacher, but an awakener.  — Robert Frost
winter tree

As you work toward learning to love yourself as part of the process of change, I want to talk a bit about grounding and how you can include grounding techniques into your process, and into your daily life.

The concept of grounding or being grounded may have several interpretations and can be quite personal based on experiences, state of mind, life style or values and beliefs. For some it may mean being centered, calm or focused. For others it may mean being in-touch with your sprit or inner-self. And for others it may mean being at peace with yourself, your current circumstances or being connected to your roots or where you came from.

None of these are wrong or right. Grounded means that your energy is firmly planted and you are connected to the earth’s energy. It helps you from being afloat, from your mind wandering or pulling your energy elsewhere.When you are firmly planted or grounded and receiving energy from and giving energy to the earth it helps you be conscious and aware of your Self and to be centered, balanced and aligned with your soul in an earthly, pure sense.  The practice of grounding opens you to the universal energy flowing around you and through you.  In short, you can view grounding as connecting your body to the earth and the earth’s energy.

There are many practices or techniques that help you with grounding or being grounded that can be worked into your daily routine.  For many any contact with nature or being outside helps bring them to a grounded state — be it walking barefoot in the sand or grass, a walk through the woods or on the beach–or spending time in your own backyard or a park–standing firmly and feeling the breeze and sun, etc. It includes mindful breathing–breathing that draws from the outside to inside the body.

Grounding can be done any time, any place and anywhere. A technique I would like to share with you is one where you imagine yourself as a strong tree. To help you, I have put the technique into a list of six steps.

  1. Stand firmly with your back straight and your feet about hip width apart, your arms relaxed at your side
  2. Feel the support of your toes, heals and insteps of your feet
  3. Close your eyes and visualize yourself as a strong tree
  4. Imagine roots coming from the bottom of your feet into the ground to firmly tie you to the core of the earth
  5. As you do this, breath slowly and deeply, being conscious of your breaths. Sometimes it helps to count your breathing. Slowly breath in to a count of four, hold your breath to the count of four, and then slowly exhale to the count of four
  6. As you breath in, feel the energy coming up from the earth through your rooted legs into your body and as you exhale flow back any excess energy back down to the earth

There is no set time for how long you should do a grounding technique.  The key is not to rush it or feel rushed when you do it. It’s best to be focused and calm–so sometimes a grounding “warm up” can help, such as taking a brief walk, sitting quietly, listening to music, etc.  I hope you find this technique helpful, and as always I look forward to hearing from you on what techniques you may use for grounding.

5 Daily Rituals to Have More Energy, Promote Lean Muscle Mass & Muscle Recovery

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I will cover in this article 5 basic daily ‘rituals’ if you will, that will help you have more energy through out your day, help you get leaner & more muscular & promote recovery from your workouts. These may seem simple, which they are yet are powerful.

Daily Ritual #1 – Getting Enough ‘Proper’ Sleep

This seems simple and obvious enough, but many people do not get nearly enough sleep or in some cases too much! How much is enough? I am sure you’ve heard the old 8 hours of sleep a night is what’s needed and this is fairly accurate. We are all wired differently and studies have shown that 7 hours is usually enough.

Even if you are getting your 7-8 hours a night, a nice 20-30 minute nap during the day will do wonders for you and have your refreshed & re-energized if you get tired mid-day like I do sometimes.

Also, the quality of sleep is important. What this means is, getting enough REM sleep & the more, deeper restorative stages of sleep is key. Caffeine, nicotine, alcohol & other drugs such as diet pills & decongestants stimulate parts of the brain and can prevent you from hitting the deeper sleep stages or even cause insomnia. Be sure to keep this in mind and limit, if not eliminate these substances if possible, especially in the latter parts of the day.

Also it is helpful if your room or ‘sleep zone’ is as quiet and dark as can be. Wearing a sleep mask, ear plugs & heavy blinds can really help to achieve this. Disengaging from your work & everyday tasks 30 minutes to an hour before bed is great to promote a healthy sleep cycle. Taking a short walk, meditating or doing some light reading (non-work related) before going to sleep help calm the mind & prepare you for a good nights sleep.

Daily Ritual #2 –Drink Enough Water

Our second daily ritual seems almost as obvious as the first one. But again like sleep, most people do not get enough water either. Hydrating our bodies properly is so important for many reasons. Our bodies are made up of about 70% water which says a lot in itself. So why is water so important?… here are some main reasons:

  • Removes waste/toxins from the body
  • Helps you to lose weight & decrease your appetite
  • Increased muscle tone
  • Digest food more efficiently
  • Increased organ function
  • Lubricates the joints & decreases muscle soreness
  • Decreases water retention (believe it!)
  • Overall improved health

Also, the best way to start your day after you wake up is to drink a tall glass of water in the morning, (Tip: drink preferably warm water with some lemon juice for added detox benefits). This helps get your organs/internal system moving and ready for the day ahead of you. How much water should you drink? Depending on your weight of course this will vary a bit, but if you are active (which if you are reading this you probably are) a gallon of water a day should be your daily target.

Daily Ritual #3 – Have a ‘Real Energy’ Drink Each Morning

So after you drink your glass of water in the morning, a nutrient packed health shake/smoothie should be an addition. A drink like this will give you steady, sustained natural energy, unlike most so called ‘energy drinks’ or highly caffeinated drinks which you usually feel a crash from or the need to keep up the intake of.

Nothing fancy is needed, most blenders do just fine in addition to the vegetable greens & fruits you blend up. Feel free to experiment on your own different combinations. I have found that mixing fruits with vegetables is the best way to go. Water or organic almond, rice or help milk can be used as a base. Also if you can, buy organic.

  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Apple
  • Blueberry
  • Banana
  • Strawberry

A favorite combo of mine is vanilla almond milk, blueberries, a banana & a tablespoon of peanut butter… so good!

Tip:  adding some wheat grass powder or barley grass powder to ‘boost’ up your energy drink is a great idea.

Daily Ritual #4 – Deep Breathing / Internal Exercise

It almost goes without saying that you should be doing some type of daily exercise regimen. I will touch upon here in this article though, an exercise that is different from the type of aerobic (cardio) exercise(s) that you are most likely used to and engage in. This ritual is truly amazing because it can cause dramatic improvement in your energy level and overall health in general. Deep, controlled, concentrated breathing is also widely known as chi gung, chi kung, qi gong, etc. in the east which originally hails from China.

Many cultures though, have their own forms. As a martial artist I have practiced several forms and there are literally hundreds of methods or styles, from the simple to the complicated. I would suggest of course starting simple and to add it into your morning ritual.

I will offer a basic deep breathing exercise anyone can do that is easy and pleasant. The key when breathing in is deep belly breathing, inhaling and filling up both entire lungs, including the lower lobes which most people, unfortunately neglect to do, especially as they get older, thus being the root cause of many health problems.

  • Stand with feet about shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, hips & tail bone tucked under to flatten out the lower lumbar region of your spine (as if you are almost sitting on the edge of an imaginary chair). This elongates and straightens the spine, which promotes energy flow.
  • The arms are held out as if holding a ball with a small space between the hands, finger tips facing each other. The chin is slightly tucked in, head is held up as if hanging from an imaginary thread so as to pull up the spine. The tongue is to the roof of the mouth behind the teeth & eyes preferably closed.
  • Breathe in through the nose deeply (as described above), hold for 2-3 seconds when full and exhale out through the mouth slowly. Now on the exhale engage your stomach muscles to sink the breath and help push out all the air until the lungs are completely empty. When the lungs are almost empty, you can also pull up on your perineum as you flex your stomach muscles to really engage your entire core, almost as if you are squeezing all of the air out.

When complete, relax again as you inhale to start your next cycle and repeat. Start with 9 breath cycles to start. I highly recommend doing more research into this area as it can do wonders for your health & fitness.

Daily Ritual #5 – Supplement with Vitamins & Supplements

This is by far the easiest of the 5 daily rituals to do, since it really takes almost no effort. Most vitamins are taken orally by pill form which works fine. Liquid forms are preferable though as they are absorbed by the body more readily. Taking vitamins, minerals & supplements is important as we just don’t get all the nutrients we need from diet alone.

Also, we may want to take supplements to increase performance in a variety of areas we may be lacking, or to help get that edge as athletes.  Being an athlete and a martial artist, I am always looking for that edge that will help boost my performance, energy level & recovery time and yet do it naturally… especially as I get older. There is a variety of supplements out there that can help you do this but I am going to just mention one I have been taking the last few months that has given me great results – Warrior Rx Deer Antler Velvet Extract .

I’ve heard a lot about deer antler velvet, especially that allegedly Ray Lewis was taking it his last year playing football to help him recover from a triceps injury. Whether he took it or not (he said he didn’t), I looked into it since I hurt my shoulder in a soccer related injury.

I have been taking Warrior Rx Deer Antler Velvet daily since & have seen great results in other areas of my performance and training as well. In addition to my sped up healing, I look leaner and more defined than ever & my overall strength has definitely gone to a new level.

I simply take it with my other supplements and vitamins as part of my daily regimen and it’s a liquid/spray which is a bonus over pills or powders. I hope you can apply these tips or rituals as I like to call them in to your daily life and get some killer results like I have.



Your Breath is Your Power

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Whether you practice martial arts, run marathons, do rock climbing, play soccer, go mountain biking or any other strenuous physical activity, your endurance and power really come down to one common denominator: Your Breath.

How you breathe, its depth, smoothness and rapidity can make the world of difference when you are playing, training or exercising. This is an exhaustive topic, but I wanted to touch upon some basics here in this post when it comes to your breathing.

To start, if you observe children and especially babies and how they breathe you can see they breathe naturally and fully.  They take deep belly breaths. The abdomen and lower diaphragm expands on the inhale, filling up the lungs completely before the exhale.

As we grow older, we tend to breathe shallower and shallower unfortunately.  In many cases people breathe in without filling the bottom portion or lower lobes.  This can ultimately lead to many different problems, but a major benefit of deep belly breathing is that more oxygen is brought into the body which ultimately helps to cleanse out toxins (carbon dioxide) from the body any stagnant air in the lungs. It also helps to oxygenate the blood more which results also in a higher level of performance when one is active.

In other words, when you have no wind, you are dead tired and weak.  A good way to minimize this, or delay it when training or in activity is to train the breath accordingly.  Through regular training our cardiovascular system and conditioning gradually become stronger.

We can augment this dramatically through different breathing techniques and breathing exercises (also known as chi gong, chi kung, chi gung, qi gong etc). This type of internal training can be very powerful and has numerous health benefits, not to mention of course increasing one’s endurance and power.

Two Chi Breathing Techniques You Can Use Anytime, Anywhere

I’m going to mention two other breathing techniques (beside learning to start to breathing deep – long inhale and long exhale belly breathing that I mentioned above) in this post that you can start incorporating on a daily basis to help train and strengthen you lung capacity and ultimately your endurance and power.

The great part is you can do these anywhere, anytime (when you’re not talking to someone or in the middle of an important meeting that is :) like driving your car, taking a walk, sitting on a park bench, etc.

Technique #1

Okay so the first technique, also known as yang chi breathing goes like this: You take a short inhale (still deep breathing) and then a long exhale through your mouth. Your inhale should only last one to two seconds, and the exhale should last a least five to ten seconds. As you get better at doing the breathing exercises, your exhale breath will last longer (15 – 30 seconds and even longer, you will gradually get better control).

I’ve gotten my exhale to last well over a minute just as an example. To make sure you are doing it right you want to make a low audible noise (sub-vocal) sound while exhaling. You should make a ‘hahhhhh’ type sound. If you put your hand in front of your mouth, you should feel your exhale/air only but slightly, just a little bit.  If the exhale is too strong you are exhaling too quick and should slow down.

Technique #2

The second technique is yin chi breathing. This is basically the opposite of the above technique. Here you want to inhale making the same audible noise (‘hahhhh sound) through your mouth. Make sure you are actually taking in air flow and not just making the sound when inhaling and slowly filling up you lungs.

You want to make your inhale (still deep breathing) last as long as you can and then when your lungs are full you want to exhale quickly in a second or so expelling everything.  When you exhale, it will be almost like an explosion, a quick ‘hooo’ type sound. .

I learned the yin/yang breathing exercises originally from an excellent internal mastery program I bought called Chi Power Plus some years back. Both above exercises and deep belly breathing in general should be practiced everyday to gain proficiency and become more comfortable to you. You can practice them in sets, maybe 10 each for example everyday, periodically throughout the day.

The yin chi breathing is supposed to help you attract things and the yang chi breathing repel. Whether that’s the case or not I honestly don’t know. But I can attest personally that I have practiced these exercises and they have definitely made my lung capacity stronger and increased my endurance and power. I’ve notice the difference especially when it comes to running and doing my martial arts.

Advanced Method of Applying These Techniques

A bit of an advanced method of applying them is doing them right in between workout reps (pushups, squats, sprints, weight training etc.) They are obviously more difficult to do then, as you are already shorter on breath thus making them more advanced. What will happen then if you do them in between sets of a workout regimen is that you will intensify your breath training regimen much quicker and really push yourself to the limit.

I would hold off on doing it this way or adding this in until you gain some proficiency and have been doing them for some time already (think a few months at least).  I have some other great breathing and chi gong training exercises I will be sharing in future posts.

But for now try these out, be patient with them and give them some time. You can time yourself on inhale and exhale and you’ll gradually see your improvement as your long inhales (yin breathing) and long exhales (yang breathing) lengthen over time. Try them and see if how work for you!