I learned about grounding and being present in my body from a trusted and wise friend who came to me in the form of a ten foot high rock at the end of Karitane Beach on the south coast of New Zealand.
I spent time on my rock daily in the midst of my turmoil, and in that time I was taught to sit with myself, to cry with myself, to listen to myself, to have patience with myself, to forgive myself and to have gratitude for myself.
The rock taught me to breathe deeply and to give a little time to the anxious and unacceptable parts of me that had previously been rejected for being too imperfect - not spiritual enough, lacking in every way.
But when I could see myself through the eyes of my ancient rock who is a great friend of time, I saw the sad, vulnerable places were just another part of me, no less or more worthy of love, but all the same to the rock, and to the great spirit that birthed her.
And so I eventually relaxed a little.
I allowed myself to be the flawed and totally imperfect being that I am. I stopped fighting and striving and trying to improve myself and accepted myself more fully just as I am.
And once I could do this I could see those same deplorable, unloveable, self-destructive traits in others too, and I could sometimes love people not despite their flaws but because of them, because I understood those very same wounded places within myself that had made me act in similar ways.
In this way, former enemies slowly lost their power over me.
Interestingly my rock also taught me about the necessity of healthy boundary setting. I have always been a sensitive and amorphous creature but spending time with my rock allowed me to realise that I must take firm boundaries with me wherever I go.
There are people in the world that are toxic to me and harmful to my peace of mind, and though I can have compassion for them I need to be mindful of keeping them at a safe distance. When we are sensitive it is very important to watch how we feel around people. If we feel drained after seeing someone, or silenced in their presence then it is usually because they are not a good energetic fit for us and it is good for both parties to limit contact so that life can flow more easily.
The rock also taught me to stop running ahead into the future, where anxiety lives, but to stay solidly present, accepting time as a friend, and giving patience a key role as a powerful ally.
This sounds like a lovely little journey from turmoil to peace, but believe me that's not how it was at all. The process of learning to be a little more grounded and present was a very rocky one, filled with much confusion and many tears.
Before I learned from the rock how to accept and love myself for who I truly am, I was stuck in a trap of striving to be more spiritual and light filled and holy - while at the same time I was denying all the parts of myself that didn't fit with this manufactured picture of me.
Once I decided to be me and embrace myself with my contradictions, messiness and darkness, I found I could forgive myself and my world a little more easily and replace judgement with a level of compassion that came from my own humbled position.
I realised that we are all the same - that sometimes our greatest beauty can be found in our vulnerability, in our flaws and weaknesses, in those things that we try to hide.
And so thanks to the rock I can feel my feelings more fully and I can sometimes love myself and others with true compassion.
But then like the fabulously flawed human that I am I will forget what I learned all over again and trudge down the beach with a hopeful heart - back to my rock where I wait for grounding and acceptance again.