Grounding Via The Elements
Earth and water can help you to stay clear and connected.
HSP retreat update: Places are going fast for the retreat that Jules De Vitto and I are co-hosting next month at the sublime Quadrangle in Kent, UK (June 15-18). We’re very excited to be convening an in-person gathering, and have some very special guests for what’s shaping up to be a fantastic few days. For more details, please click here:
I warmly welcome you to join me in The HSP Revolution online membership community — where I host two live workshops per month, post daily inspiration, and provide opportunities to share and connect. Members also gain full access to four editions of this newsletter per month. See you there!
The word “grounded” is used a lot in coaching work, but what does it actually mean?
I’m sure there are many valid definitions, but for me the word evokes the following kinds of qualities: Feeling present and at ease; being in touch and connected with myself; a sense of safety in my body; a well-regulated nervous system; being strongly rooted; and a sense of inner spaciousness, clarity and ease.
To flip it around, we’re definitely not grounded when we’re feeling stressed; restless; overwhelmed; anxious; agitated; easily distracted; confused; hypervigilant; unworthy; stuck in cycles of repetitive thinking, or lost in the clouds.
Learning how to ground is an essential skill — especially for Highly Sensitive People (HSPs), the 20-30 percent of the population who process sensory input, thoughts and emotions more deeply, and may be more prone to burnout and overwhelm if we don’t manage our energy wisely.
Grounding is especially important when life is very hectic, or we’re feeling anxious, tearful or frustrated. But even if things are going relatively smoothly, taking a few minutes to consciously ground more than pays off. The sense of ease and flow we regain makes the whole day go more smoothly.
This week, I wanted to share a couple of grounding practices based on the elements of earth and water. I’d love to hear about your own ways of grounding in the comments.
Return To Earth
The obvious element to turn to for support in grounding is, of course, the earth.
One very simple technique is to walk barefoot on a lawn or soil. My husband Matthew loves to do this in the local park. Though he thought he might get strange looks, nobody particularly seems to notice, and he reports feeling his whole system relax after just a few minutes of direct contact with the earth.
Personally I love to lie on the grass and look up at the sky. And I know a lot of people enjoy grounding by getting their hands in the soil while gardening.
But you don’t need to be literally in contact with the earth to use this element to help you.
Consciously taking a few moments to tune in to how your feet feel in contact with the floor can immediately help you to feel more anchored and present. To take it a step further, imagine yourself standing on bare earth or grass, and feel the sensations of the soil, stones and plants beneath the soles of your feet. Notice and appreciate the sense of support you gain from the earth beneath you, and breathe deeply — imagining you are breathing through the soles of your feet.
This is a very simple practice, but over time it can help orient your physiology and neurology towards a greater sense of safety and belonging.
Lava, Magma and Molten Rock
If you need extra support, you can take a few minutes to practice a grounding technique shared by our friend Lisa Schwarz, a clinical psychologist and developer of the Comprehensive Resource Model (CRM), a powerful system for healing trauma. To hear Matthew and Lisa in discussion about her work, check out their two-part podcast featured in the two latest editions of his Resonant World newsletter:
Lisa guides clients to practice“CRM earth-breathing” to help them ground during sessions. (CRM earth-breathing is based on work by Barbara Barnett, a breathwork healer in New Mexico). It goes like this:
Start by feeling your feet on the floor. Breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth.
Breathe in through your left foot, imagining you are breathing in from the first layer of the earth (soil, earth and sand).
Notice the breath spiraling up your left leg to the base of your spine. Hold the breath there for several seconds, and exhale out through your right leg and foot back into the earth.
Continue this pattern of breathing from all layers of the earth, one at a time. The layers are as follows:
Soil, earth and sand
Rocks, huge slabs of stone, mountains
Underwater lakes, streams and rivers
Caves and caverns holding crystals, minerals and gems
Magma, lava, molten rock
After each individual layer has been breathed from several times, breathe through all the layers at once in one breath.
Trunks, Branches And Roots
You can also ask for help from the trees. Visualise yourself touching a tree and asking it to take negative energy and overwhelm out of you.
There’s no right or wrong way to do any of this — just set an intention to ground, and follow your intuition.
Our five-year-old daughter Matilda constantly reminds me that we all instinctively know how to ground: She’s always touching and hugging trees, and loves to rub her hands in the soil, and collect sticks, wild flowers and stones.
Some inspiring earth sounds:
Seas, Rivers And Streams
Water can be an equally helpful ally in bringing us back into the present.