Have you ever been through a chaotic emotional time, that you felt like you´re about to lose your mind? Ever felt that you would “Cry out!”, or “act crazy!?” That the situation you are living seems to be pulling you apart in every direction?
I have felt emotional chaos, various times, and I can tell you, it is despairing. I have felt the emotional abyss, and I guess that everybody that has felt it and the emotional void, has the need for an emotional buffer.
During any emotional chaos, what you need is to stay centered, focused, to be in charge, even if you don´t have control of the situation. Think of a General in a battle field, but in reality, we may act incoherently, with zero rational behavior, dispersed and unfocused.
This usually happens because your physiology is going crazy in a big rush of hormones and neurotransmitters, and your body is preparing to: fight, freeze or flight. When the dangerous situation is real; great! This will help you deal with the situation. If the dangerous situation is non existent; you have a problem. You might be having some type of Anxiety Disorder.
The thing is, that we all go through difficult situations, and ever once in a while, we need to feel anchored to something, or someone.
What you need during these difficult times is grounding.
According to Josephine Ferraro, LCSW – NYC Psychotherapist:
“We all go through difficult times at various points in our lives. Often, these are times when we can’t control what is going on around us. All we can do during these times is to try to stay emotionally grounded to maintain our physical, mental and emotional well being. How each of us does that is a very individual process, and it helps to know or, at least, be willing to find out, what is helpful to you, in particular, to stay emotionally grounded.”
So what is grounding?
In electricity, a device is “grounded” when it is connected to the ground so it allows excess energy to leave the system.
We may be emotionally grounded when our energies and emotions move through our grounded body and the excess of them get discharged to the ground. This helps us to maintain our center, and to cope with difficult situations.
a) Physical Techniques
Get your feet on the ground
Grounding may start with you simply getting in touch with the ground. For this you have to take off your shoes. Start by being aware of the ground when your feet touch it. You may stay in a spot just feeling the ground, and imagine that with each breath your “energy” goes down to the ground. You may even feel energy going through your body and into the ground. You may want to take some steps and feel-walk the ground. This is great if you are at the beach, or at some lawn, but you may do it wherever you are, and doesn´t matter the type of floor.
Hug a Tree
Hugging a tree is a very fast grounding experience. When you are hugging the tree, you could think how deep the roots are, and try to feel them with your imagination.
Hug Someone else
When you hug someone else your energy bodies interact with each other. Excess energy may be worked and equalized between both bodies. Energy interaction and exchange between people happens at the center of the body. For example the eyes, mouth (face region), chest area, solar plexus and genital area. The hands may transfer energy. This is why people that love each other, usually look in the eyes, kiss, and touch the chest and genital areas. Holding of the hands also shows a loving gesture.
Meditation techniques are great for grounding. You may want to sit in a Lotus position (If you can…) I can´t, so I usually sit with my legs crossed, or in a Japanese “Seiza” Position. If you want to meditate siting on a chair, you must sit upright and straight. Your back must be away from the back of the chair. Your feet flat on the floor, and your arms may be placed on your legs, palms turned upward, or your hands placed close to your abdomen, and your palms placed one on top of the other, both facing upwards, but your left hand on top of your right hand.
Breathe in; count one. Hold your breath; two. Breathe out; three. Start over… concentrating on your breaths, and count. If a thought comes to your attention, dismiss it, and start again counting. You may try to do this exercise while your waiting in line at the supermarket, or waiting at the doctor´s office, washing dishes, etc. Here your creativity is the limit.
Yoga positions, or Asanas, are great for grounding. For a fast grounding using yoga, you may choose Asanas that require you to find balance in off-balance positions or comfort in uncomfortable positions.
b) Mental Exercises for grounding
I´ve already mentioned Meditation. I presented it as a physical medium for grounding because of the awareness it gives of the body touching the ground, or interacting with it.
As Psychology Today expresses:
“Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”
A simple, yet effective, Mindfulness exercise is to pay attention to your body and how it interacts with the environment. For example, if you are sitting down, observe the weight of your body on the chair, or observe how your feet´s sole interacts with the floor, and try to feel each finger touching the floor, just observe, be mindful to the interaction.
The Altered State or “Flow” Experience
Csikszentmihalyi, one of the developers of Positive Psychology, discusses that a person may be in a “Flow” Experience if:
“He is completely involved in an activity, whether it be chess, rock climbing, the arts, dance, or anything else, often experiences certain subjective feelings called the “flow state.” The flow state is a feeling of unified flowing from one moment to the next in which the person is in control of his/her actions and in which there is little distinction between self and environment, past, present, and future, stimulus or response. While in the flow state, the person usually does not think of him/herself as being separate from what he/she is doing.”
What this means is that if you love doing an activity, and you practice it to the point of losing distinction of time, the self and the environment, then you are grounding yourself, and centering the self by doing what you love.
I hope these grounding techniques help you to center during difficult emotional times.
Let me know what you think about the techniques or if you have another grounding technique please comment on it! It would help us to center ourselves.
Carlos is a Psychology Professor in a local university in El Salvador, a psychotherapist, creator of HandLink Technique (Energy Psychology), blogger, musician, and host of Sight For Sore Eyes Blog.