iRest: Groundless Ground

During the iRest program I participated in last November, I spoke with the doctor who facilitates the program about a memory from my childhood that surfaced. I quite vividly remembered a day when I was walking home from school – I’m guessing I was in eighth grade – when I suddenly felt a sensation that might be characterized as an out-of-body experience. I felt as if I wasn’t physically connected to the ground beneath me. I didn’t feel completely connected to my body either, but I could sense and see everything around me it was as if I was simply witnessing what was happening through my eyes. I felt that at any moment, I might float away but, because gravity was doing its job, I wouldn’t go flying off the planet.

I know it sounds strange and I can’t remember having that experience at any other time in my life: the awareness of not actually walking down the street in my body. The iRest program was probably the first time I thought I wouldn’t be considered odd if I shared it, mainly because we talked about the abstract concept of a person’s essence and being, rather than the soul. When I described this memory to the doctor, she told me there is a name for what I experienced. It relates in psychological terms to our consciousness and metaphysically to our essence or being. The experience is known as the ‘groundless ground’, which may even be likened to the ‘witness state’ in meditation. It was a great relief to have a frame of reference for the memory of an experience that felt so strange.

As we discussed it further, the doctor explained more about the metaphysical concepts of ‘essence’ and ‘being’ and asked me to spend some time thinking of what about me, my being, has been consistent throughout my life. Of course, the one thing that surfaced was writing, more specifically writing poetry. Writing poetry may be the one thing in my life that is never forced or analytical and has been part of me for more than half my life. It may be the only thing about myself I never question nor do I wonder why or where it comes from; and of course acquiring this new insight inspired me to write poetry.

Groundless Ground


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