What is “grounding?”
I am sure you have all heard of the term “grounding” in one context or in another. It is quite the popular term amongst yogis and meditators, and increasingly becoming more popular amongst the general population. What does grounding actually mean? Well, it is not well-defined in the dictionary in the sense that we are trying to use it here, but in essence grounding is the process we go through to feel connected to the earth and thus feel stable and protected.
In yoga, for example, we stand in mountain pose (simply standing straight up with feet slightly apart and eyes closed) and focus on feeling “grounded.” The teacher often reminds us to really “ground down” and grow from there. The idea is that your 2 feet are firmly planted on the ground, and this should and can help you feel more stable and secure both on your yoga mat and off.
If you happen to be someone (like me) who is prone to anxiety then you have probably experienced the feeling of being un-grounded more than you have of being grounded. Speaking from my own experiences, when my anxiety has been really bad in the past I feel like I’m just kind of floating through life on a big cloud of uncertainty, fear, and worry. I think this is one reason that I fell so deeply in love with yoga. Yoga gave me an antidote to that feeling; it taught me how to ground myself and feel the support of the earth that was beneath me, not the support of the anxious thoughts floating around my head.
The logic of grounding?
The logic behind grounding is both scientific and emotional. On a scientific level, it is a fact that the earth has an electrical charge/current that we, as living beings with our own energies, can benefit from. This electrical charge helps balance out our bodies, namely by stabilizing the free radicals in our body by providing free electrons. On an emotional level, the idea is that doing things to ground yourself (such as spending time in nature) will have immense emotional benefits, including reduced anxiety and insecurity.
Grounding, especially using the natural world (like trees) is quite connected to the concept of “earthing.” Earthing is the idea that we need to spend time physically connecting with the earth like our people did well before there were insulated houses, fancy shoes, and transportation. There are some tribes around the world today that believe in the strength of earthing so much so that they refuse to wear shoes, for shoes break their connection with Mother earth. Again, the idea of earthing is grounded (an un-intended pun) in the scientific fact that the earth has an electrical charge that we need to connect to through direct contact with the earth’s surface.
What can I do to ground myself?
Lucky for us, there are many, many ways to ground.
- Spend some time in nature, barefoot, reaping the benefits from the earth’s surface. Walking in a park barefoot or even sitting at the foot of a tree barefoot for 10 minutes will be beneficial.
- Purchase an earthing mat. I have yet to get around to buying one, but these mats are great for people that live in situations where they have little to no access to the natural earth’s surface.
- Practice yoga/meditation. Yoga classes will offer you many poses for grounding, such as mountain pose, tree pose, and warrior II. Outside of yoga, one can practice a grounding meditation and reap the benefits of grounding without actually doing anything physical. Simply sit in a comfortable position with the eyes closed, deepen your breath, and begin to visualize yourself on the earth with roots growing from your body down the earth’s soil (much like the roots of a tree). Keep this visualization/focus going for 5-10 minutes while you breathe and you will see that you soon feel a bit more grounded from this simple meditation.
What do trees have to do with this?
Well I have already mentioned trees a few times here before getting to the part of using trees specifically to ground. One of the grounding yoga poses to practice is tree pose. Spending time in nature (inevitably spending time around trees) is a great way to ground and earth. And, practicing a meditation in which one visualizes their body like a tree with roots is beneficial for grounding. See the common denominator here?
Trees can be used in many different forms of grounding because they are one of the most powerfully grounded things on this planet. Have you ever considered that much of our world is built above the earth’s surface, whereas much of the tree lies beneath the surface? It is pretty incredible how many trees can survive hurricane-status winds and not be uprooted, because they are so grounded in the earth. We can use the intense grounding of trees to help ground ourselves.
I am not saying you need to get out there and start hugging trees (though I would encourage you to at least try if you haven’t!), but spending time amongst trees could prove very beneficial in your grounding practice.