Grounding Exercises

03 October, 2014

I find grounding exercises to be invaluable in my personal life and professional life (as a counsellor/psychotherapist with my clients). It is useful to have a selection of grounding exercises that you can draw upon to keep your mind and body connected and working together, particularly for those times when you become overwhelmed with distressing memories, thoughts and feelings.

I have included some grounding exercises below that might interest you.

Sit on a chair with your feet on the ground to begin. Choose a quiet place without disturbances. As you practise these exercises you can perform them anywhere.

1. Notice your Breathing:

Clench your stomach, tighten your muscles and breathe up high in your chest. How does that make you feel? People often say “anxious”, “tense”, “panicy”. Chest breathing is not deep breathing and it is often an unconscious reaction to stress or trouble.

2. Relax:

Relax your stomach and let your breath down into your belly. Imagine it flowing down into your toes as your belly expands. Do you start to feel different? Some people find this deep breathing unnatural. To learn it, put your hand on your belly, breathe so that you belly pushes your belly out. Practise regularly, so that it becomes easy and natural.

3. Close your Eyes:

Imagine your breath pushing down through the base of your spine, through your feet, like a tree pushing down its roots. Imagine those roots pushing down through the floor and into the soil below. Imagine they can feel something of the quality of the earth, what grows there and how healthy it is. Push down through the waters under the soil, down through the bedrock and down into the centre. If there’s still any tension or fear, let that go through your “roots”. For some people, imagining that there is a fire at the centre o the earth and throwing negative feelings into the fire helps to make those feeling dissipate.

4. Imagine:

Imagine you can draw some of that fire up. Feel it as the earth’s living creative energy, and bring it through the rock and that ware and the soil. Bring it into your legs and feet, like a tree’s roots would draw up water and nutrients.

Bring it up your spine and imagine your spine growing like a tree trunk, reaching up to the sky. Bring some fire into your heart, into any place inside you that needs healing or extra energy. As you imagine the growth and energy flowing into you, raise and open your posture and refocus on your breath.

Direct the energy up through your arms and out of your hands, up through your neck and throat and out the top of your head. Visualize branches of energy that reach up to the sky and let them spread around you and reach back down to touch the earth, creating a protective filter around you. Take a moment, look at that energy web and notice if there are any places that need to be repaired or strengthened. Send energy in that direction.

Imagine the energy of the sun, shining down on your leaves and branches. Breathe deep; draw that energy in. Breathe it down through your leaves and branches, down through your heart and your belly and your hands. Take it in, feed on it like a tree feeds on sunlight.

5. Open your Eyes:

Look around you. How do you feel? Relaxed? Revitalized? More attentive?

Imagine your feet have sticky roots. Let them sink into the earth and then release when you start to move. Walk around a little. Feel connected with the ground. Feel the imaginary roots grip and release.

Stretch your arms out to your sides as you move, as far as they’ll go, until you can’t see your hands if you look straight ahead. Now wiggle your thumbs and slowly bring your arms in until your thumbs are just visible on the edge of your peripheral vision. Notice how wide your field of vision can be. As you walk, breathing deep, grounded, activate that peripheral vision. Know what you can be aware of going on around you.

6. Come back to Stillness:

As you breathe, feel where it is in your body this grounded place seems to live and touch that place. Can you find an image for this grounded state? A word or phrase you can say? When you use these three together: touch, image and phrase, you create an anchor to help you ground quickly in any situation.

There are free downloads for smartphones in the Apple and Play (android phones) stores with grounding exercises that you might be interested in.