What does being grounded mean?
If we refer to someone as ‘grounded’ we’re saying they’re relaxed, steady and somewhat centered. If you think those qualities sound pretty appealing, then the good news is being grounded is something you can cultivate. The best definition I’ve heard of for being grounded comes from yoga and it starts with simply noticing the connection between your body and the ground. If you’re in a chair, then you can feel the sensation of the soles of your feet on the floor, or your thighs and buttocks on the chair. It’s a kind of mindfulness practice where you bring your attention into the moment via the doorway of your senses and for a few seconds your mind is steady.
Moving beyond tension and collapse
Under stress, most of us move into a state of tension. We wind up to try and meet the intensity of the stressful situation which takes a lot of effort and energy. If the stress passes quickly, we soon recover. However, if it’s a prolonged state of tension, you may find yourself in a state of elevated stress response for hours, days, weeks or even years. Prolonged stress is exhausting, which is why it is typically followed by a state of collapse. It’s the reason why we often get sick at the end of a stressful period; it’s the body’s way of enforcing rest.
Learning how to be grounded is one way of breaking this series of cycling between tension and collapse. In yoga, being grounded is also referred to as yielding, whereby you yield the weight of your body into the support of the ground beneath you. Try it now, start by feeling the support of the ground (or chair or bed) beneath you, then try letting the weight of your body sink down into that support. Consciously relax your legs and feet, then let your hips sink down, now let your shoulders drop away from your ears and finally let any tension in your face soften. With the next three exhalations consciously allow your body to yield down further into the support beneath you by inviting your body to let go of any effort it does not need.
The beauty of grounding is regardless of whether you have one second or a whole hour, you can use this practice as a way to reset your nervous system.
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