Grounding: growing roots to relieve stress and pain
Being "grounded" ( or ungrounded!): what does it mean?
Physically: It means being connected with our body, with gravity and with the earth beneath us.
Psycholigically: it means being present, feeling balanced and at ease.
As you embody ( or ground yourself) , you have a clearer sense of what's going on within and around you- it's your connection to reality.
At its core, it's about your proprioceptive experience - your connection to your body and the ground beneath you.
(Proprioceptive means how you experience yourself from the inside- your body, your movement, your sensations, and how these all relate to where you are in space.)
As stress levels have increased in modern society, along with a faster pace of life, it has become the norm to be " ungrounded". On a neuromuscular level, this means that our stress response gets activated, causing tightness in our muscles which over time leads to pain. Think of the fight/ flight response in animals, which exists in us too, except that we don't use the same organic intelligence as our animal counterparts to release the stresses through running/ shaking/ other movement.
So chronic stress gets locked into our systems, and our body-mind forgets what it feels like to relax and let go. As we ground, however, our body-mind recieves messages of support, of relaxation, of safety, and so the stress responses gradually can begin to unwind. Gravity also acts as a force through our whole system, as we explored in class, when noticing turning our heads to one side and feeling how the muslces in our faces responded/ relaxed.
As we release into the embrace of the earth, we can slowly unwind into its supports.
So, how can we become more grounded? Here are 4 steps:
- Explore self-care, by finding ways for your body to be as supported and at ease as possible- when lying, sitting, etc..
- Do a body scan to sensitise to where you carry tensions, and invite a release
- Explore " yielding"- a somatic practice and principle- releasing your weight to recieve the support of the earth and the unwinding effects of gravity on your muscles
- Move: explore gentle, slow, movements and try to stay as present in your soma ( body-mind) as possible
- Click here for link on resourcing to help you find balance in times of overwhelm
( https://www.aislingrichmond.com/blog/resourcing-an-anchor-in-the-storms ).
Here is also a link to a beautiful grounding practice:
Book: Awakening Somatic Intelligence: Risa F Kaparo.
More on grounding , from gravitywerks.
In a state of relaxed skeletal balance, the forces generated by the weight of your body pass cleanly through your skeleton into the ground, and the supporting force from the ground is transmitted back up through your skeleton. Every part of you has a clear line of skeletal support, so you experience a unified and effortless connection with the ground. This is what it means to be grounded.
If you’re not well-balanced on your skeleton, on the other hand, muscles will tense to support the off-balance weight. If you’re feeling anxious or unsafe, you may protectively stiffen, producing additional tension. This tension disrupts the clear skeletal path of weight down, support up. Rather than feeling supported by the ground, parts of you may feel supported by the tension, or feel no support at all. The effort required to maintain the tension will feel necessary for support, which is no longer experienced as easy and safe. You feel less stable, and less grounded.
Balance and relaxation are the physiological keys to being grounded, but it involves more than that. There’s also a perceptual dimension. Feeling grounded is an experience, and as such, it requires awareness. Not only must your body weight be supported by your skeleton, but you must sense that support, You must feel the ground under you, feel your body weight dropping through your skeleton into the ground and the ground returning a supportive force. To do this, you must maintain enough awareness, i.e., a broad enough perceptual field to include your body and your connection to the ground within your experience. If you’re very narrowly focused on some other activity — like typing on your computer or hurrying from one place to another — in a way that blocks awareness of your larger self, you can’t feel grounded.
The physiological (relaxed skeletal balance) and perceptual (broad perceptual field) dimensions of feeling grounded are intimately interrelated.