grounding

In uncertain times, when we may be feeling anxious or overwhelmed, it is easy to get caught up in our thoughts and in our minds, which can raise stress levels and make us feel disconnected or desensitized. At times like these, finding ways to bring focus back to the body, and to the present, can be calming and may help us to feel more centred. One of the quickest ways to do this is through our feet. 

Grounding is a simple practice that involves reconnecting directly with the earth. Our modern lifestyles don't necessarily allow much time for doing this; many of us seldom connect to the ground without our socks or shoes as a barrier. Walking barefoot on grass, earth, or even on your floor at home can help us bring focus away from circular thought patterns and back to the body and the present. 

You can do this in your garden (watch out for stones or sharp objects), on carpet, or on wooden floorboards in your home. Or you could try it on fabrics or blankets with furry or soft textures. You'll need to take off shoes and socks in order to connect with the earth, the ground, the floor, or the fabric or blanket you are using. You can also do this sitting down if standing is not accessible or is uncomfortable for you. 

--Take a moment to find a comfortable standing position (or sitting position with your feet resting on the ground). Adjust yourself and relax your muscles as best you can. Shift from one foot to the other as you adjust your balance. 

--Take three deep, conscious breaths. Focus your attention on the soles of your feet. Feel yourself anchored into the ground. Take a moment to notice the ways in which the bones and muscles of your feet make adjustments in order to maintain balance in the body. Take a moment to feel the texture of the ground beneath you. 

--Pay attention to the way the ground supports the weight of your body. Feel yourself rooted to the ground; perhaps even imagine yourself spreading roots beneath the earth like a tree. Imagine yourself drawing energy up from the ground beneath you. 

--If you feel comfortable and balanced (and you are able to do so), take some slow, mindful steps in any direction that feels natural to you. Walk more slowly than your usual pace, breathing naturally and fully. With each step, keep your attention in the soles of your feet: the way they make contact with the ground or floor. Be aware of the heel making contact and releasing; the ball of your foot; your toes. Think about the sensation of the soles of your feet touching the earth. 

--Notice the feeling and sensation in your feet as each one meets the ground. Notices changes in pressure, texture and sensation, one foot after the other. Try to be aware of what feelings you are having. Are there things that feel pleasant, or unpleasant? Just notice them; don't cling to them or push them away. Allow yourself to notice them as they drift by without following them with your mind. 

--Notice what your mind is doing. Is it clear? Bored? Busy? Calm? Maybe you are thinking about something in the future, or in the past? Remember to notice this without judgment, and carefully return your mind to the soles of your feet. 

--If any strong feelings come up, stand still for a moment and be aware of them; be present and attentive. Once the feeling is no longer compelling, continue to walk. 

--When it feels right to you to do so, come to a gentle halt and once again feel yourself standing still, feeling the earth supporting you beneath your feet. Take a deep, cleansing breath. 

--Once you are done, take ten minutes to write reflectively on your grounding practice. Try to set aside your thinking and judging mind when doing this, allowing your reflective response to be strange, confusing or nonsensical. Let the words flow out of you and through your pen, pencil or keyboard. If you get stuck, take a deep breath and try again. 

Use these reflective notes to form the basis of a poem or piece of short prose reflecting on your grounding experience. Perhaps it will explore the sense of being rooted or anchored to the earth, or perhaps it will focus on sensations of texture and movement. Maybe it will take you in a very different direction; if so, allow the writing to take its own shape. Don't feel as though it needs to look a certain way or follow any particular rules. 

If you'd like to share the results of this writing exercise--or simply share thoughts about your grounding experience--on our site, feel free to email them to e.j.perry@kent.ac.uk