A Complicated Relationship with Grounding

art by Madison Perrins

art by Madison Perrins

I’ve always had a complicated relationship with grounding.  I wasn’t really into it.  I liked the feeling of running on excitement and high charge. 


When I was little and there was a big event-my birthday or a holiday-I would work myself into such a frenzy that I would vomit or get sick.  My mom reminded me recently that I was diagnosed as “failure to thrive” when I was a little girl because all I would eat was apple juice and cucumbers.  She said I always kind of seemed half in/half out, like I hadn’t really committed to being on Earth. 


I was a little skinny bookworm that spent most of her time in a fantasy world.  My need for escape started early with books and then progressed to drugs and alcohol as soon as I discovered how they could buffer my sensitivity to the world around me.  I craved ecstatic experiences that helped me feel outside of myself and outside of my mind because it was such an uncomfortable place to be.  I had constant anxiety, insecurity and a very overactive brain that kept all of my energy up in my mind for a big part of my life. 


And yet, I didn’t really get what was supposed to be so great about being grounded.  It felt overrated and kind of boring.  As part of my Breathwork teacher training, I was given a word to focus on, write about and integrate.  My word (of course!) was Grounding.


As I started feeling into my relationship with grounding, I began noticing how little my feet were actually on the ground as I moved through my day.  I walk on the outsides of my feet and even when I’m sitting, I usually have my feet on the rung of a stool or up on a coffee table or tucked under me on the couch. 


As I dug in more, I realized that one of the reasons that I didn’t like being all the way in my body is that I already feel things so intensely, that it felt like it would be completely overwhelming if I were to feel anything more.  


The energy of fall takes us down and into ourselves.  Summer is external.  Fall is internal, introspective and contemplative.  Turning inward can be scary because that is where all of our “stuff” is tucked away.  We have many clever ways to avoid going there. 


I don’t know many people that spend most of their time all the way in their bodies.  We are usually hovering more on the periphery.  We don’t often have a relationship with our physical vessel as a safe home or comfortable place to be. 


Anxiety takes us out of our body.  Fear takes us out of our body.  Pain takes us out of our body.  Stress takes us out of body.  We might not like the way our body looks or the way it feels.  It hurts or its tired.  This can scatter our energy and unground us.  If we are not all the way in our bodies, we cannot be grounded.  If we are not fully grounded, we cannot feel the support of our physical vessel and it can be challenging to feel anything enough to process it and let it go. 


I didn’t realize that by being grounded, I could actually work through the emotional pain that I was afraid of in a deeper way, rather than just touching the surface of it.  I could start to learn how to more deeply soothe myself by being gentle and kind and holding myself through whatever was going on-without seeking the distraction of the million ways we have available to check out.


If you are holding on to old stuff, there is very little space for fresh insight, ideas and inspiration to come in.  You will probably start to see the meme about “the trees teaching us to let go” about 50 times in your social media feeds.  It’s true.  This is a time for shedding-relationships, mental habits, objects, old ways of doing things, worn out stale anything and everything.  Look around you and see what is out of alignment in your world.  What no longer matches the ever evolving you?  It might be a piece of art that you’ve carted around through several moves.  It might be a friendship that leaves you feeling empty or unsupported.  It might be a way of taking care of yourself that feels frantic and tiresome.


Finding the courage to truly be with yourself-100% completely in your body, settled, and present emotionally, not distracted, not in fantasy, not spacing out or trying to get away or dissociate in any way-is a brave act.  There is a ton of information about your needs, wants and desires when you turn all the way in and can hold yourself there with kindness and compassion.  You can be the tree that bends but doesn’t break.