Tips for Grounding and Creating Moments of Joy in Uncertain Times
With so much time spent staring at a screen and so much chaos happening all around, balancing this out with some grounding activities could go a long way toward adding daily moments of joy into your life. What is grounding and why is it so helpful? Grounding in the simplest sense is exactly what it sounds like. It is the practice of connecting with the earth or something solid. In doing so, you are brought back into the present moment, the moment where there is no anxiety about the future, no guilt or regret about the past, the moment where all that exists is what is happening right now in that moment. Grounding activities get you out of the chatter in your head and back into the comfort of your body. Grounding is a frequent term used in the yoga community, but you don’t have to practice yoga to feel grounded. There are a multitude of ways to reestablish your connection with the earth, with something bigger, to sink fully back into your body and to allow yourself a few moments to simply savor the joy of being.
Ten Tips for Grounding:
1. Take off your shoes and walk barefoot outside. Intentionally allow yourself to feel a connection with the earth. Notice the sensations of warmth or coolness. The differences in the feel of soft grass, crunch of leaves or roughness of rocks, dirt and gravel. This practice, sometimes called “earthing”, not only helps you relax and feel good, but scientific research has shown that there are a number of health related benefits that come from walking barefoot as well, including improved sleep, a strengthened immune system and all the other benefits that come from relaxation and reduced stress.
2. Make a list of simple pleasures you enjoy and commit to doing at least one of these daily or perhaps once a week. The commitment to do so at a regular interval will result in you more likely taking time for these simple joys. Choose what you are going to do, then write it down in your planner or calendar, hang it up on your refrigerator or add it to a post-it note on your laptop. Don’t remove the note, until you do it. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Sit quietly and listen to the birds.
- Feel the breeze on your face.
- Sit in the sunshine and enjoy the warmth on your skin. Or alternatively enjoy the coolness of the shade on your back deck.
- Pick flowers or get some at the market, a florist or the grocery store. Take your time arranging them in a vase.
- Wear soft cozy clothes that make you feel loved when you snuggle up in them.
3. Take a walk and count things that you see along the way. Before you begin this exercise, make a mental note of how you feel. After to you get to a count of 100, stop and notice again how you feel. Can you recognize any change? Do you feel more calm? Do you feel more connected to your surroundings?
4. Take a blanket or beach towel outside and lie on the ground watching the clouds or observing the stars.
5. Cook with your hands. Baking bread is great for this. Or if you are new to baking or don’t have that much time to devote to this effort, make some biscuits instead. If you are making biscuits, use cold butter as the leavening. You can substitute butter for shortening in most recipes. When you get to the step in the recipe where you cut in the butter, first chop it into about 1/2 inch pieces with a knife. Then break the butter up in the flour mixture using your hands, pinching pieces of butter between your thumb and forefinger until the butter pieces are the size of small peas. When you get ready to form the biscuits, sprinkle a few tablespoons of flour on your working surface and place the dough directly onto the floured surface. With your hands, form it into a large ball and then pat it down slightly so that you can use a rolling pin or your hands to flatten it further to about a 1 inch thickness. Dust the rim of a glass or a biscuit cutter in flour to cut the dough into small rounds ready for baking.
6. Do some deep belly breathing exercises. This can be done in the comfort of your home sitting in a chair, or on a pillow or meditation cushion. If you want to feel even more grounded, try this outside by placing a yoga mat, beach towel or blanket on the ground.
Sit down and close your eyes and feel your spine gently lengthen from the tip of your tailbone up through the crown of your head.
Let your belly hang loose and full - like pictures you may have seen of the Bhudda. This will help you retain the natural curves in your spine and make sitting in this way more comfortable for a longer length of time.
Now begin to send your breath deep into the bottom of your belly. Let your belly expand and fill on your inhale.
As you exhale, gently pull your belly button back toward your spine helping you compress the belly and expel the last little of bit of air.
Continue inhaling and exhaling at a pace that is comfortable to you. Try not to strain, but rather to enjoy a nice even, comfortable pace.
You may decide to allow your breath to naturally flow more deeply into your ribs and chest cavity after you have filled the belly with each breath in. If you do this, see if your exhale can follow in the opposite direction, flowing out from chest, then from the area around the ribs and finally from the belly.
After you are finished, try sitting quietly for a few more moments with your eyes closed, listening to what is happening all around you. Likewise, when you open your eyes, continue to sit quietly and let your eyes roam around for things pleasing to look at and observe.
7. Make friends with a tree. Do you have a tree with a nice big trunk you can lean against in your yard or somewhere you frequently take a walk? Grab a towel or a blanket and intend to get cozy for a bit, even if just allowing yourself a five minute break. If you don’t have the ideal tree for this around, perhaps find one to give a big hug. Make an intention of hugging your tree every time you walk by it (or perhaps once a day if you pass it frequently). No big trees around that feel right for these actions? Perhaps a softer approach would feel better for you? Try simply taking one or both of your hands and placing your palm/s flat against the trunk of the tree. Close your eyes and imagine the sap flowing up from the roots, through the trunk and outward into the tiniest of the branches and on through to the leaves. Allow yourself to send a little bit of love to the tree and to perhaps receive some love as well.
8. Try practicing some grounding yoga poses. A few that are best known for their grounding properties include:
Mountain Pose (Tadasana): Stand comfortably with your feel about hip distance apart. Notice the connection of your feet with the earth. Perhaps lift your toes and set them back down intentionally. Then work your way slowing up the body, engaging the muscles of your calves and letting your thighs turn slightly inward as you engage your quadriceps. Begin feeling long in the sides of your body, as the crown of your head reaches upward toward the sky. Keep your connection with the earth, as you lengthen your spine upwards. Allow your chest to open and expand and you may notice that the palms of your hands may naturally turn toward the space in front of you. Let your shoulders remain soft and take a few moments to feel the strength of your body and your connection between earth and sky.
Child’s Pose (Balansana): Begin by kneeling on the floor and separating your knees a comfortable distance from each other. Let your big toes touch. Then allow your hips to sink back toward your heels and melt your heart down toward the earth. You can gently rest your forehead on your mat, towel, a folded blanket or flat cushion. Then let your arms rest gently beside you, with palms up back toward your heels or with palms down walked out in front of you. Relax and breathe.
Legs up the Wall (Viparita Karani): This is a restorative pose that not only can help you ground and connect with the earth, but can also calm the nervous system and restore depleted reservoirs of energy within the body. Sit sideways against the wall. Then lay down and scootch your hips around until they are close to the wall and your legs are literally resting against the wall with your feet toward the ceiling. Let your arms rest comfortably at your sides or in any comfortable position. Now notice the places that your body is making contact with the floor. You can imagine that you are lying on the ground and that all the stresses you are feeling at this moment are drifting downward, being absorbed by the earth beneath you. Hang out here for ten minutes or so and notice how calm and refreshed you feel afterwards.
9. Place both hands on top of your head, applying a very gentle pressure and count to thirty.
10. Give yourself a break from the news and social media for awhile. Pick a period of time for an electronic vacation and fill the time you would have otherwise been using scrolling on your phone with one of the activities above.
Do you have another favorite way to ground? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below. I’d love to hear your suggestions and I know our other Kula members would as well!