Getting Grounded: What is it and why do it?
Although the concept of grounding may have an esoteric ring to it, the practice itself is the most practical act you can imagine. As someone who moves a lot, I see this practice as the way to begin any kind of movement practice or anything at all. It is the way in which I consciously get into the body and into the present moment so that I can get the most benefit and pleasure from what I am doing.
Grounding is about sensing the ground under my feet and the support it gives me. The simplest way get there is to pay attention to my breath and to the support from underneath, be it under my feet if I am standing, a chair if I am sitting or the space beneath me if I am lying down. I do not have to wait for a special moment when things are quiet to ground. I can do it right now at this very moment regardless of where I am or what I am doing.
Try it. Grounding in this way is about of bringing one pointed attention to your physical body and like a tree, rooting into this moment. Although this sounds simple, my unruly mind, running between the future and the past can easily abscond with my attention and before I know it, I am no longer sensing my body but wondering what I am going to make for dinner or wondering why I said what I said to somebody yesterday or worse… judging myself for not being able to stay attentive.
The first thing to bring to a grounding practice is curiosity. Can I do it? Can I stay? Can I sense more?
The second thing to bring to a grounding practice is deep compassion for the moments when I veer off, when my mind drifts me away from my body sensations.
The third thing to bring to a grounding practice is perseverance and determination to keep coming back again and again and again to drink from the well of sensation.
So why do it? Ground…
Along with coming into the moment and becoming more present, grounding in this way uses a part of our brains that activates the healing response. We begin to settle our nervous system which in a cyclical way quiets our mind which allows us to sense more which settles our nervous systems and that quiets our minds and so on…
This cycle of relaxation creates a safe place to move from. It creates an intimate relationship to our bodies so we not only get more out of the movement, but also use more of ourselves to execute it. Because we feel more whole, we have the potential to move as a whole. We also have the opportunity to get in touch with our bodies based on sensation and how it feels to move and not on how it looks or should look.
Grounding also creates a resonance that others can feel and also… ground into. My ground becomes your ground and in that way, I contribute to a vibration that invites you to come into the moment with me. It works both ways, like that cyclical settling of the nervous system, the more chill and grounded I am, the more ground you have access to and the more chill and grounded you are, the more ground I have access to…and so on.
This can work in the opposite direction too. I have been in the upward spiral of ungrounding many times, energy escalating out of control… anxiety, panic, freaking out… forgetting that I had a choice about it. When I am able to catch myself feeling ungrounded, the way to return to the moment if to ground, to plug back into sensation… the breath, the space beneath me, the support from underneath.
So I do it for me. And I do it for you. Holding hands like the trees.