The act of grounding offers a range of benefits to our mental and physical health. It provides an opportunity for us to develop a better sense of balance, stability, core strength and improved posture. Exercises in grounding can also help improve confidence and reduce anxiety and stress, whilst creating an opportunity for us to reconnect with ourselves and with nature itself. In this article, we explore the benefits of grounding for wellbeing and how to begin to undertake exercises in grounding.
Grounding for Wellbeing
Grounding is a technique that involves doing activities which allow you to connect with the ground or the earth. Often these are done barefoot, which helps to foster a greater sense of connection to the earth itself, whilst also allowing for more nuanced work on balance to take place. Grounding exercises can take many forms, including simply walking or standing outdoors barefoot. In embodied practices, including somatic practice, yoga and martial arts, grounding exercises also invite us to reflect on the way in with we relate to the earth/ground. The exercises in grounding are not only about reconnecting with the earth, but encourage us to consider ways in which we can engage in dialogue and collaboration with it.
With regards to wellbeing, we can consider grounding exercises as an opportunity to reset and cast away anxieties and stress and to recycle negative thoughts, feelings and states of being into positive ones which can help us to feel calmer and more focused. Often, the breath is used as a guiding tool. The exhalations allow us to release our worries, fears, anxieties and concerns in the earth and allow them to dispel. The inhalations then provide the chance to draw from the earth renewed energy, positivity and clarity.
Taking even just a few moments to engage in such practice can provide immediate relief and a sense of wellbeing. They can be powerful tools to help us cope with moments of high intensity, allowing us to recentre, focus and feel ready to continue on with our daily lives.
Yet the value of such exercises goes beyond our dedicated practice time. The longer we practice and engage in such techniques, the more we can learn to apply the benefits to our wider lives. For example, poses such as the ‘superman’ and yoga’s tree pose, which at their core focus on the dual pull downwards (grounding) and upward lift (push towards the sky), have been found to increase confidence. Learning how to harness our relationship to the ground as a form of support, but also as a form of exchange or dialogue, can instil us with increased self-esteem and a greater sense of clarity and control, which better enable us to achieve our goals in all areas of our lives, both personally and professionally.
The act of grounding also invites us to reflect on the interconnected nature of life itself. All living things rely on the earth, the ground, in some way or another. Taking a moment to appreciate this can help us to feel more connected not only to ourselves and nature, but also to other living beings, which can help us to feel less isolated and part of something bigger.
An Exercise in Embodied Grounding
Visualisation is a key component of much embodied practice, often used in conjunction with the breath. This can be especially useful when beginning work on grounding, particularly for those new to the practice.
Begin by standing and focusing on the breath. Draw your awareness to the feet. Notice how you are standing, how your feet feel against the ground. What part of the feet are in contact with the earth? Where is your weight placed?
As you continue with your cycles of breath, try to spread your weight evenly across both feet. Use the exhalations to help you to sink into the ground. You can visualise the area around the ball of the foot as a seed that is taking root in the earth. The exhalation reconnects you to the earth, allowing your feet to sink into it, to find stability and support in the earth. On the inhalation, visualise the ground offering you something to push against, helping you to move upwards with renewed energy, lengthening the spine.
As you continue with the breaths, explore this imagery further. What does it mean to you to sink into the ground? Observe too what impact this has on the rest of your body. Try to avoid tensing the muscles or locking the joints, but aim instead to keep them soft. Allow your weight to be supported by the ground, without entirely surrendering to it.
Take the opportunity to explore and play with the dynamic between the downwards pull of gravity, rooting you to the earth and enabling you to become grounded and strong, as well as the invitation to move upwards and be pushed and supported by the earth towards the sunlight, the sky.
As we draw towards the start of Spring, we invite you to take a few moments to engage in a grounding exercise outdoors. We encourage you to use this as an opportunity to discard any worries or negative feelings from the winter months and to sow the seeds of a new beginning, for new aspirations for the coming months.
Choose an outdoor location that you feel connected to and practice outdoors, ideally in bare feet if it is safe to do so. Before you begin, take a moment to observe the natural world around you. Notice what life there is around you. Are there new shoots beginning to grow? Can you hear any animals?
As you engage in the exercise, open your awareness to the natural landscape around you. Notice how, in the act of grounding, you too are a part of the natural world.
Allow any worries to sink away. Consider what new goals, new seeds you want to plant for the coming season and use the inhalations to fill you with renewed energy to confront the challenges ahead.
As always, we hope that these exercises and prompts are useful and that you share them with others. We’d really like to know your thoughts and experiences, so feel free to get in touch with us via our Facebook page, on in the comments below!