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What's the deal with "grounding?"

Updated: Mar 29

The first time I was asked to meditate I was in a lecture hall with hundreds of students and I felt so uncomfortable that I left. Today, I host workshops where I lead students through a variety of mindfulness meditations. What helped bridge the gap between the uncomfortable student who left and the yoga student turned yoga teacher? Grounding practices.


Maybe you've heard of the term of "grounding" when referring to electricity, which is the process of directing excess electricity to the ground via a wire. This relates back to us as humans. Sometimes we have a lot of energy in our minds (think our capacity for hallucinations) and it benefits us to direct excess energy to the ground via our bodies. So, when I speak about grounding practices I am talking about anything that anchors us in the moment. This could be "earthing" (laying on the earth, or walking barefoot), meditating, finding mindful movement, finding silence, or being conscious of the breath.


Grounding practices, like earthing, have become increasingly popular enough to warrant studies about it. The Journal of Environmental and Public Health published research on earthing and how there is “mounting evidence [suggesting] that the Earth's negative potential can create a stable internal bioelectrical environment for the normal functioning of all body systems.” In other words, the Earth (the inspiration behind grounding practices) can help bring our minds and bodies into balance.


Think about what it’s like to have the opportunity to sit down when you’ve had a busy day; stay home when it’s been a heavy week; or that feeling you get when you’re tired and plans get canceled at the last minute. I see these moments as grounding. Maybe for you grounding translates to a chance to turn inward, spending time in nature, a well-deserved break, a much-needed rest, or a place for pause. For most hard-working, passionate individuals (which is most, if not all, of this audience) it’s a moment we need more often.


I was watching a movie called Kimi (2022) and a line that stayed with me was “the fastest way to get better fast.” It’s pretty intense, and also how most of us are living our lives. There is an discernable rush being a part of a fast-paced society. A rush to succeed, to be happy, to retire, to travel the world, or whatever it may be. I feel this rush every time I scroll through social media or the news. For someone who is used to going 100mph day-to-day, I believe this perceived rush can add to the discomfort of sitting in stillness. It may feel as if you are wasting time, or even getting hit by a giant wave of “to-do lists.”


Grounding practices exist to overcome "the rush." The more you ground, the less "the rush" impacts your spirit. There are many practices you can utilize to ground yourself. I am offering an Energy-balancing Session for Grounding on Sunday, April 10, 2022 from 4:00PM-6:00PM. It is 120 minutes of reconnecting to the foundations of your body, settling your mind, and reinvigorating your spirit.


You can find more information at: https://www.allisonleyoga.com/workshops.


If you are short on time, one of the simplest is to close your eyes and feel your breath as you inhale, and as you exhale. Another shorter grounding exercise is the 5-4-3-2-1 Game below.

The 5-4-3-2-1 Game

This grounding exercise is about tuning into the 5 senses: seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and tasting (University of New Hampshire).

  • Name 5 things you can SEE in the room with you

  • Name 4 things you can FEEL near you

  • Name 3 things you can HEAR around you

  • Name 2 things you can SMELL in your space

  • Name 1 thing you can TASTE in your mouth


References:


Chevalier, G., Sinatra, S. T., Oschman, J. L., Sokal, K., & Sokal, P. (2012). Earthing: health implications of reconnecting the human body to the Earth's surface electrons. Journal of environmental and public health, 2012, 291541. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/291541


What Is Grounding. (2021, March 19). Psychological & Counseling Services. https://www.unh.edu/pacs/what-grounding#:%7E:text=Grounding%20is%20a%20self%2Dsoothing,and%2Dnow%20and%20to%20reality.