Do you ever walk around with your 'head in the clouds'? You forget where you are and what you're doing, you're so immersed in your thoughts or emotions. Do you feel overwhelmed or anxious? Do you bump into things or trip over because your mind is elsewhere?
You might want to practice some grounding. Grounding is often talked about in body based practices like yoga and breathwork. But what does it mean and how do you do it?
What is grounding and how does it help?
To ground ourselves is to connect to the earth as a stable and supportive element below us. It can calm and reassure. Some people believe it can give us energy. It can alleviate loneliness as we recognise that we are part of nature and the web of life, rather than separate beings.
Grounding can be especially important for people who have anxiety or who have experienced trauma, it can help them to feel safe and to be more comfortable and present in their body.
Being grounded allows us to relax and let go of control. We can surrender more easily to the flow of life, because we know we are held by the ground below us and we will be supported no matter what unfolds.
How do we ground ourselves?
One of the most effective and simple ways to ground is to get physically close to the earth and to connect into the parts of our body that make contact with it. This is what we are naturally doing in times of crisis if we find ourselves crying or surrendered on the floor.
Feel the sensation of the ground in detail, and notice what is happening in the places in your body that touch it. These tend to be the places that feel more stable and solid. For people who have experienced trauma, and others who disassociate (feel numb or leave their body) or who have little feeling in their body for any reason, this can be challenging, but awareness of sensation in the body grows the more we practice taking our attention there.
Other ways to ground include:
Walk in nature, barefoot if possible. Stop to touch or even hug a tree if possible!
Mindfully eat a hearty and nutritious meal, root vegetables if possible
Take a bath with epsom salts
Tend to your house or garden plants.
Grounding and Yoga
In the yogic tradition we have 7 key energy centres (chakras) in our body that run along our spine, and the first of these is the root chakra (muladhara in sanskrit), said to be located around the base of the spine.
The root chakra is related to our feelings of safety in the body and the meeting of our basic needs: clean air and water, food, shelter, safety. It is said that this can be disrupted even when we are in the womb if the baby is unwanted or experiences trauma, as well as unbalanced throughout our lives by unsettling or frightening circumstances.
Grounding techniques can help us to balance this chakra, so we feel safety and belonging. We must have this necessary foundation to support us to move towards creativity, love of others and self-development.
Breathwork and grounding
Breathing more slowly, and directing the breath into the lower lungs so our belly and diaphragm move usually helps us to ground. You can visualise that you are breathing in from the ground and exhaling back down to the earth, or imagine that you have your own roots connecting you to the ground.
Sometimes the emotion and energy awakened by a dynamic breathwork practice can mean people feel 'ungrounded' for a short while afterwards. Move slowly and practice the grounding techniques above and this should soon dissipate.
Ready to be grounded?
If you are looking for something to inspire grounding in your body and your connection with nature, why not lie on your belly and read the poem below. When you finish see how deeply you can let your body relax into the ground and surrender to being held by the earth. You can also find a recorded yoga class for grounding in my gallery.:
By Nancy Paddock
Lie down with your belly to the ground, like an old dog in the sun. Smell the greenness of the cloverleaf, feel the damp earth through your clothes, let an ant wander the uncharted territory of your skin. Lie down with your belly to the ground. Melt into the earth’s contours like a harmless snake. All else is mere bravado. Let your mind resolve itself in a tangle of grass. Lie down with your belly to the ground, flat out, on ground level. Prostrate yourself before the soil you will someday enter. Stop doing. Stop judging, fearing, trying. This is not dying, but the way to live in a world of change and gravity. Let go. Let your burdens drop. Let your grief-charge bleed off into the ground. Lie down with your belly to the ground and then rise up with the earth still in you.