The word “ground” has many meanings and for clarity, it seems important to define what I mean when I talk about grounding. When I think of the word “ground,” several images pop into my mind. First, of course, there is the earth, dirt, soil, the foundation of our presence on this planet that carries in its womb every seed.
I also think of electricity. Electricity moves through wires but without a proper “ground,” the extra electricity become dangerous and will search for other ways to become grounded…possibly even through you! Electricity needs to be grounded to the earth–the literal ground–to absorb those extra charges. Are humans so different? After all, we are basically just self-aware, biological masses and what we think of as being “alive” is a combination of electrical impulses and chemical reactions. So it seems logical to me that we also need grounding just as any other electrically-charged object does.
Grounding is Something you DO?
Okay, so stick with me because I know this might seem a little “out there,” but yes, absolutely, we can and should intentionally ground ourselves. Ideally we’d have a daily grounding practice as well as knowing several additional techniques that help whenever we feel particularly ungrounded.
I don’t know about the rest of you but sometimes I feel like I”m walking around about three feet off the floor, unable to sit still or focus on anything for very long. Call it ADD, call it nervous energy, whatever it is…I have to deal with it. It’s what I’d imagine electricity coursing through wires might feel like when there’s no ground wire: Wild. Uncontainable. Unpredictable. Restless.
Stop, Sit and Breathe
Lately I’ve been connecting with this experience in a new way. Rather than avoid it or reject it, I’ve been asking myself, “What do I need right now?” Perhaps I need to stop moving, sit down, take some deep breaths and meditate for a few minutes to bring my energy back into my body. Focus on my feet, on my seat, on my ground.
Meditating sounds so serious and perhaps a bit scary but it’s just literally taking a moment to pay attention to the present moment. I ask, “What is happening right now inside my body?” I feel inside, look into my mind; my breathe remains with me as an ever present friend. Focusing all my attention on my sit bones, on the spot they connect to the ground, coming back to my breathe whenever my mind wanders (and it constantly does)!
I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am.Sylvia Plath
Grounding through Your Senses
There are days when I need more than just sitting, though. Perhaps I’m too frenetic to even stop, sit and breathe, what then? Sometimes I use essential oils help me ground: lavender, sandalwood and lemon are very calming for me. I also like to burn Palo Santo, holy wood, or Sage bundles. Burning things can be so meditative–lighting it on fire, watching the smoke trail and spiral off, taking in the pungent scent and letting it overtake you. This can be a moment of mindfulness all by itself.
And then there’s the old standby: drinking a cup of hot herbal tea. I love the sensation of sipping warm liquid, the aroma of herbs that come from mother earth. Tuning into my senses always helps me ground and be more present. Hot baths are also very good for grounding, or a hot shower if baths aren’t your thing.
Believe me when I say, there are times when I need all of it: Sitting in meditation in a hot bath, with sage burning and essential oils around me while sipping a mug of tea. Whatever it takes to bring me back to myself. A grounding practice is kind of like medicine, except you can take as much as you need, as often as you’d like.
Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.Thich Nhat Hanh
Grounding through The Earth
Another essential grounding practice involves literally connecting yourself to the earth, to the ground. I have heard of people who regularly walk outside on the earth barefooted and swear by its invigorating effects. Even if you don’t care for walking outside barefoot, just being outside, just standing or walking on bare earth with no man-made structures between you and the ground can be very beneficial.
For this reason I go on lots of walks and hikes. As I meander along, I take in the beauty of nature, feeling the fresh air and sunshine on my skin and the ground so solid underneath me. I walk with gratitude for the life I have. Even a simple stroll around the block with my dog can be very grounding. I return refreshed and ready to focus on a project, ready to accomplish something. My energy doesn’t feel like it’s restlessly searching for a ground wire.
I have found it’s also helpful to wear natural jewelry. Most days I will wear a mala necklace, one that I made myself from carefully selected stones with an intention of connecting to mother earth and to my inner wisdom. Sometimes, if I’m not wearing it, I’ll feel my energy racing, arcing through jumbled wires, about to spark. But then I remember my grounding practice. I’ll put on my mala, maybe put some water on for tea. Soon I am feeling a stronger sensation of calm. I’m not buzzing aimlessly around. Between the cool, heavy stones against my neck, the essence of each element that was chosen and the soothing feeling of running my fingers over the beads, it works like magic to ground and center me once again!
Grounding through Your Body
Our bodies are made from this earth, from the nutrients we take in. All of our food ultimately started out as seeds in the ground which grew into plants, plants that were eaten, plants that nourished animals, food that nourished your ancestors and your mother as you grew in her womb. Our bodies are made from this earth and someday back to it they will go. We can not avoid this “earth-ness” of ours.
By connecting to our body we are literally grounding into our own earth and giving our essential nature what it needs. Exercising brings awareness into our body, it deepens our breathing and we feel into our body’s strength and capabilities. You don’t need a gym membership or a personal trainer. It doesn’t have to be Olympic-quality exercise. All it takes is the intention to cultivate a true love for yourself and to know that you deserve to feel good. You are worth it. Instead of thinking you “have to” exercise, try riding your bike because it’s fun. Hike because you love the way it makes you feel afterwards–alive, legs tingling and cheeks flushed.
Yoga is one of the most grounding practices I’ve ever found. It’s truly amazing in that it benefits mind, body and soul. Even if you’ve never done it before, it’s not too late to start. You can watch one of the many free videos on YouTube or sign up for a beginner’s yoga class. Yoga Bliss with Shelly is a beautiful, heart-centered yoga channel from our very own Voices Rising founder, Shelly Bond! I have found that meditating is so much easier after yoga as my mind is already calm and grounded before I even begin, less likely to wander!
Your Personal Practice
No matter which methods you choose–some of the above or ones you come up with yourself–finding your ground is a journey of discovering what practices work for you and doing them regularly! Your needs may change over time. Tune into your emotions and use the resources you’ve cultivated when the inevitable ungrounded feelings arise. Look for opportunities to transform your anxious feelings into ones of peace, calm and well-being and watch as restless energy become focused awareness.
Chasing after happiness is not something I recommend since that usually results in less happiness in the end. But I will say that having regular grounding practices and knowing how and when to use them has made me into a much happier person (and probably one that’s much easier to be around too)!
How about you? What helps to ground you? Please feel free to add to this list and share your own personal grounding practices in the comments below. We are a community of heart-centered souls seeking truth, light and beauty and there is strength in our shared experiences.