4 Guiding Principles and 5 Great Ideas for Grounding in Turbulent Times
I love being pregnant, I love the feeling of the growing child in my belly. I felt well and strong both times and yet I also felt the most vulnerable I have ever felt in my life. In addition to clearing out unhelpful beliefs at ever deeper levels I steadied myself with regular grounding practices that felt essential to my survival and wellbeing. Survival sounds dramatic but truthfully there were moments during my second pregnancy when I was floundering in panic so strong I struggled to catch my breath and I could feel my blood pounding on the inside of my head. Times when I was desperately reaching out for anything familiar to hold onto. In those times the wisdom of the earth and its slower pace calmed my racing pulse and soothed my worries. I wish I had developed a regular practice much earlier than I did, and reminded myself more often when I forgot.
In this post I share with you four of the basic principles I now bear in mind when wishing to ground myself and five ideas for grounding that calmed and supported me and that I continue to practice and enjoy daily even though the extreme vulnerability I felt in pregnancy is no longer with me.
Principal 1-Use the Power of Intent
Never underestimate the power of intention. Much has been written about the manifesting power of our thoughts and our outer reality mirroring our inner world. We hear this so often we can sometimes overlook the simplicity and efficacy of the principle. Check in with your intention as you choose an activity and trust that choice. State your intention openly out loud. Believe in it. Then throw caution to the wind and have some fun.
Principal 2-Uncover the Hidden gifts of Resistance
Resistance can show up in so many ways and the most common for me are telling myself I have no time, and then forgetting when I do make time. It is so easy for me to say, ‘oh I can’t do that I have to look after my children.’ Children who delight in making up games involving mud, stones and sticks and who would love any excuse to roll around in the dirt under the guise of grounding.
My invitation is to use your resistance as a springboard of inspiration and challenge your habitual perspectives. Look at what you are saying is not possible and turn it on its head. Invent a grounding game for your children and join in. Ask them to come up with new ways to connect to the Earth. If you do not have children, invite your inner child to play instead and step back in time to an age of wonder and innocence and get fascinated with the world at your feet. A different perspective can do wonders for your mood. Lie on the earth and imagine the world from the perspective of an ant or a ladybird. See what insights come your way.
Principal 3-Seize the opportunity
Don’t wait for that ideal time as it doesn’t exist. I am sure you have heard that before. I am not sure my toddler son has though, but he doesn’t waste his time questioning if the time is right or if he has time and embodies the principle quite naturally. The other day I observed him unwittingly do a full sun salutation in the middle of the supermarket floor. I thought he should get back in the trolley so I could zoom around the supermarket and get out of what I felt to be an oppressive atmosphere and get back into the daylight as quick as possible. He had other ideas and was ignoring me. Totally. He did downward dog, cobra, some impressive rolling moves, cat pose and a few I have forgotten before returning to downward dog. He finished with Shavasana and a big grin.
Just to be clear I have not done yoga with him as the few times I tried he sat on my head and bounced. Yanked my clothes down shouting milk. Laughed uproariously, ran over me, lay down under me and kicked, jumped on my knees singing Zoom Zoom. Yet with the natural wisdom of children he was engagingly reminding me to seize any opportunity, get creative and try something new.
Although I think I will all the same steer clear of the supermarket aisle in favour of the park or garden for an impromptu Yoga session.
4-Tap into the Original Energy within.
This is an idea that came to me courtesy not of some esoteric traditional teaching per se but in the form of the Terry Pratchett Discworld Series and specifically via the youngest witch Magrat*1 . Faced with a locked door and no magical powers she was stuck. Thinking creatively and inventively and recalling advice from her teachers she placed her hands on the wooden door and invited the door to remember the time it was a tree. It sprang into life and started to grow leaves and branches and failed to remain a locked door. She was able to get in and do what she needed to do and I am inspired to use what I have and follow it back to its Source. Or in the words of Thich Nhat hanh describing mindfulness practice ‘ So the practice consists of looking deeply into the ground of consciousness to identify the seeds that are there.’*2 When he looks deeply into the nature of a flower he sees in addition to the petals and colour of the flower, all the non flower elements that were essential on its path to manifesting as a flower including the rain, soil and sun and the gardener. I use this idea when I can’t physically get out in nature to open a pathway of connection using whatever objects are to hand.
So bearing these simple principles in mind when in need of grounding I like to:
1-Go Barefoot in Nature
And cultivate a few flowers of my own.
We do like our shoes, to protect our feet, to look pretty. We are also generally fans of pavements, and spend a lot of time indoors on carpets and artificial floors. And we mostly live in cities. All of which is far removed from our evolutionary origins.
This separation from the natural world with a fast paced, gadget happy substitute can cause considerable stress to our system. Whereas the background electromagnetic frequency of the Earth generally vibrates at the low frequency of 7.8HZ which corresponds to the Alpha spectrum of human brain waves or the state of consciousness we enter when in deep meditation. Studies on urban populations have shown measurable benefits with even small amounts of time spent in green places such as parks as it supports us to harmonize our vibration with that of the Earth.
So I invite you to get up, get out and get your shoes off! Even if it is just for a few moments. A relatively short period of time may be enough to slow you down and bring you back into harmony with the earth.
Go for a short walk with intention. Stand for a few minutes in your garden. Choose your patch of earth and luxuriate in the sensations available to your naked feet. Is the ground rough, smooth, cold, hot, soft, level, bumpy? Savour the different textures and flavours of the ground as you meet with the earth through your feet. Sense the energy and wonder about the history of the ground you are touching. Feel the ground touch you back wondering about you, who you are. Feel your feet come alive with this connection. Feel this life energy move through you and in you. Feel the grounded potential in you be activated with each conscious step on the earth. Lie down and bask in the sun, supported by the Earth. Let it soak into your very bones.
This might be a bit chilly in Winter ( though don’t let that stop you) and even in summer.
For those times when this is not practical as a warming alternative I like to:
Whilst pregnant with my second I felt I needed a boost and asked inside what could I do? I got a picture of a nettle leaf. To my delight with the help of trusty old Google I discovered that nettle tea was perfect for women and particularly pregnant woman and something of a superfood plant. They are also growing in my deliberately wild garden. (Tip: If you have a garden have a look around and see what you have growing that you can make tea with. the herbs and plants that grow naturally or you have chosen to grow are potent medicine for you.) My eldest is now also a big fan. As I sip the tea I can taste the earth energy and feel all those nutrients entering my body. I love nettle tea. If you don’t fancy braving the stings or don’t have them in your garden you can buy it readymade pretty much anywhere. If nettle tea is not to your taste try another herbal drink. Or plain old water. For once again intention and animation are key here. You have an intention to get more grounded. What does your body desire? What do you love to drink? Choose what arises in this moment. Take it outside if you can and stand on the earth. But even if this is not possible drink it with the intent of grounding and savour each sip. Take those moments of slowness to really imbibe the essence of your chosen drink and connect to the energy of the earth that was a part of its creation.
When I can’t get outside with the real trees I like to:
3-Tap my tree.
Travelling in Thailand and getting up early one morning I found the park literally full of people rhythmically tapping each part of their body awake. I was fascinated and tried it out myself despite feeling a bit silly. I have since experienced it as a partner exercise in a couple of different seminars back home too. I also dimly remember dance lessons in primary school where we had to pretend to be a tree…
So here is my take on all that.
With a partner you stand and imagine that you are a tree. Visualise the roots going down into the ground and feel the earth energy rising up your roots and grounding you. Feel that energy rising up your body/trunk and out through your arms and head as the branches. You may sway and flow with the energy. Meanwhile your partner taps with loving intent on your feet. They can then move up your legs and torso, and head and arms and back down to your feet. Finish with your feet. If you have knowledge of EFT tapping points you can include those. Again get creative. Combine this with affirmations, singing, sighing, whatever the practice moves you to do.
Don’t have a partner or your children don’t want to play this game, you can do it alone. Follow the suggested visualisation and do your own tapping.
When despite all these ideas I keep forgetting to ground myself I like to:
Red: The colour of our blood, the life force energy flowing through our veins day and night. A powerful colour, strong bold and courageous. It is also the colour of the base chakra and is a grounding vibration that can support us to be more grounded if we let it. Try:
- Wearing red, especially if you don’t usually. Perhaps you have some shoes, or a scarf or a t shirt. Have a dig around your wardrobe or your friends! and play.
- Alternatively get out the paints and colouring pencils and make some colour. Don’t worry about being the next Picasso, who once said of an exhibition of children’s art ‘When I was their age I could draw like Raphael but it has taken me a whole lifetime to learn to draw like them.’ *3 Start from his end point and play like a child with their innocence and wonder. See what comes out of your play and display it proudly. Each time you see your picture you can use this as a signal to take a moment to consciously ground yourself. A moment of awareness is all it takes to get back on track.
- Notice all the areas of red in your home and garden and as you go about your day. Each time you notice red take a breath in with the intent to ground yourself. You may be surprised just how often you are able to remind yourself to be grounded and how much fun you can have. ( particularly if you have older children and make this a game for them too.)
- Buy some flowers for your home or a red plant for the garden.
- Write an affirmation in bold red and pin it up prominently with a red ribbon.
When all else fails and I feel overwhelmed and exhausted I like to:
5-Take a bath
This may seem an odd one to include in a list of grounding activities but bear with me. Yes water is more about fluidity than the solidity of grounding but when you are tired and other grounding activities feel impossibly active then you can slide into a bath and let go into the soothing embrace of warm water. As the warmth penetrates deeply into your tired muscles and you let your tiredness ooze out into the bath water you can switch off from your surroundings and let your awareness wander with the water. All things have their own consciousness and memory, water is no exception. You can follow the energy of the water right back to its origin in nature as a pure mountain spring bubbling out of the earth, tinkling music to your ears as it ripples through pebbles. Imagine you are that stream of fluidity and feel the earth that you flow over and through supporting you as you sit in the bath. Invite that earthy grounding energy to permeate the water and then soak into your body which is itself largely water. Let your imagination run as you flow over boulders through forests out into the sea. Feel the energy of the earth that lies under the water that covers much of the planet. Breathe gently and infuse your spirit with this earth magic as you rest in your bath.
So this is my take on getting grounded. How about you? I would love to hear from you.
Choose one of the above activities, have a play and then drop me a line about your experience.
Or Inspire me with your own ideas. How do you get grounded when you feel spacy and floating?
*2Thich Nhat hanh, You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment. Shambhala Publications Inc. 2001