Clear © 10.15.2021 Raena Wilson,

What actually is grounding?

I have people who come to me seeking ground, sometimes without even realizing it, and sometimes with a feeling sense of having missed a piece of the puzzle—because they find “they can’t do it” where their attempts fall short of the results they are reaching for. Sometimes they are creating a practice around it based on pre-defined forms or rote advice offered as “mindfulness” from western healing culture and mindset, and sometimes they give up on those practices, often blaming themselves for not being able to create that sense of well-being that is in true groundedness using those methods. A lot of guidance or perception on meditation practice out there that encourages you to “release” or “let go” a “monkey mind” or to focus on something unoffensive to your experience are more dissociative, which is the opposite of grounding.

So yes, there is a lot of advice about grounding in western healing culture, which tends towards some version of “imagine yourself to be a tree and grow roots that extend into the earth…” or any number of meditative prescriptions—but there is not a lot of clarity offered on what grounding actually is, and sometimes, that is because the teacher is unaware themselves, perpetuating a feely-sense of what it is that actually misses the mark not having the embodied foundation—an understanding of how subtle energy moves through the mechanisms of the body and nervous system and how to tune into it.

Any time we are ungrounded, it means there is something in our experience that is unsupported. Grounding is the process of feeling into that experience in an embodied way, identifying it, understanding the need that is arising, and then identifying and calling in supports to connect the experience to rootedness and safety—whatever is needed, discharging the energy and moving it through and out towards well-being. This process is more descriptive, rather than prescriptive, and provides deeper, lasting awareness and understanding of self, evolving one towards increased equanimity in their experience.

Sometimes we need support from the beginning of the process in just feeling into our experience, or identifying it, or even understanding it. A lot of us have gaps in our internal support system because our culture drives disconnection from one’s own felt experience, as well as relational disconnection in the way of “independence” as a goal of “success” and any need for support from others is considered a weakness. We as humans need healthy interdependent connection to mirror those gaps and reflect support there, in order to develop the internalized support, that is authentic independence. It is a process to relearn our natural capacity to connect to the subtle and implicit energy of our inner experience and identifying it in our body’s signals, in order to respond to it appropriately, when for many generations, our culture increasingly comes away from allowing knowing and feeling one’s own needs. We can learn this experientially, in an embodied way, in healing relationship. Humans have relational neurobiology; it is our nature to reach for support, ground, when we have a need that we cannot support from within ourselves—but first we must be able to bring awareness to our felt experience.

If those prescriptive methods I mentioned above do meet the need, great, then it is indeed grounding, but there is no one catchall way to “ground,” and wherever we skip over any part of our awareness that connects one to one’s own experience and needs, it generally won’t meet the need of support and ground, entering into bypassing. The prescriptive methods may also only serve to be a partial support by giving a bit of disconnecting distance or space (dissociation) from an intense experience, which then can be revisited in a titrated, piece by piece, way, calling in supports that can be with you through an experience, interdependently. Connection is a healer. Though, it is common that people do not realize the importance of taking that next step—of bringing awareness from the meditative experience back to the ground of the body—to bring that into the practical and lived moments of one’s experience in a way that supports will be the act of grounding. Otherwise, the need remains unmet until ungroundedness is triggered again, recycling the energy rather than resolving it into true groundedness.

Our bodies are already an expression of root, we must include the body’s wisdom in coming to well-being—the felt sense of peace, satisfaction, and connection to wholeness or heart and spirit when we feel grounded—even when shit is up. When 80% of the nerve fibers of our calming and activating nervous system are dedicated to moving information from our bodies towards our brain, reconnecting to the our capacity for somatic awareness and deep listening to our nature, rather than overlook and override it, will expand our capacity for well-being and being with any challenge that arises. Because we will be attuned and responding appropriately to the energy that is authentic in the moment, resourcing through supportive embodied awareness and connection—groundedness.