Many of us have been experiencing a bumpy re-entry into post-pandemic life. Things have opened up – yay! I can see my family again – so good! Travel is a possibility too – super exciting! So why do so many of us feel so… weird? My daughter Callan shared with me a conversation she had with one of her best friends, someone she has known since kindergarten. Both of them expressed feeling disconnected, even outside of reality, both wondering – was the pandemic a dream? Did this monumental experience actually even happen? Some very real things happened for my daughter’s friend, including losing her beloved grandfather to COVID. And yet, as things move back to normal she describes feeling like she doesn’t really know who she is and if what happened was real.
Here’s what happened – we’ve all been through a collective trauma and for some of us that trauma hit very close to home and became personal trauma. There has been little to no guidance for any of us though, on how to begin the healing process in order to transition back to our NEW normal. Because the truth is that nothing will ever be the same for any of us again. This experience has changed us and now it is so important to become grounded so we can process our feelings, integrate the experience so we can learn and grow from it and in doing so, boost our individual and collective resilience.
What is grounding? Mindfulness is the practice of staying present to whatever is happening in the moment without judgement and grounding is the process of helping our bodies and mind stay in that present moment. Grounding helps us come back in to our bodies when we’ve lost touch with the here and now and our thoughts create fear and anxiety in us. What does being ungrounded feel like? In her new book “Tending to the Sacred”, Ashley River Brant describes being ungrounded as when “we are unfocused, easily distracted, anxious, disconnected from feeling pleasure…” These states of being ungrounded can manifest in each of us in any number of ways including:
- Dizziness, feeling spaced out, light headed or a floaty feeling
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Forgetfulness, forgetting appointments or other important things
- Misplacing or losing things
- Feeling generally unwell, totally lacking energy, waking up feeling tired and drained
- Continually daydreaming
- Having increased sensitivity to light and noise
- Feeling over stimulated and jittery
- Bumping into things or other general feelings of clumsiness
- Getting lost while driving, even when you have a GPS, you just can’t seem to go the right way, even when the area is quite familiar to you.
- Having out of body experiences without meaning to and feeling that they are not within your control
- Being unable to carry on a normal conversation, including losing track of what you were saying
The antidote to all these uncomfortable experiences is to get grounded! “The practice of grounding is to bring our energy back down into our bodies and the Earth, creating roots that anchor us in this physical reality. When you are grounded, you are present and rooted in your being, as well as connected to the essence of who you are and how you are authentically aligned to show up in the world” explains Brant. She recommends a daily grounding practice that she suggests “can strengthen intuition, maintain healthy boundaries, fortify the aura, balance emotional energy, promote clarity, build confidence, reduce stress and anxiety, help you sleep, boost motivation affirm your purpose and trust and even cultivate better posture as you stand more rooted in yourself”.
There are many ways to practice grounding but the most fundamental is to breathe. Breathing, slowly, deeply, mindfully signals to our brains that we aren’t actually in danger and allows us to come back to our bodies in a way that feels safe. Using our five senses is a powerful and researched-supported way to foster this sense of safety and groundedness too. Try this 5-4-3-2-1 grounding exercise: slowly and deliberately place your feet firmly on the ground and breathe; intentionally and steadily. Then, using your gift of sight, describe five things you see in the room you are in right now. (for example, “I see my dog snoozing and my house plants, etc.”). Next, name four things you can feel (“my feet on the floor” or “the air in my nose”). Now, name three things you hear (“traffic outside”). Name two things you can smell right now (or two smells you like) and finally, notice one thing you can taste in your mouth (remnants of the coffee you had earlier perhaps). Now, pause and get curious. What do you notice after this exercise? Do you feel more quiet, more centered, more you? If this feels good and you’d like more, try these calming and grounding activities too:
1. Get into nature. Feel the sun and the wind on your skin and smell the fresh aroma of the outdoors.
2. Move your body in any way that feels good for you – walking, running, biking dancing, yoga – and focus on what your body feels like as it moves.
3. Connect with animals or children, both of whom are skilled at being present and grounded.
4. Rest… get more sleep and take a nap.
Brant, A.R. (2021). Tending to the Sacred: Rituals to Connect with Earth, Spirit and Self. Sounds True, Boulder Colorado.
Michelle is a mother, a partner, a friend, a spiritual seeker, a psychotherapist and someone who enjoys connecting with herself within a mindfulness meditation practice. She has a BA in Communications and Humanities from the University of Colorado and an MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a concentration in Mindfulness-based Transpersonal Psychology from Naropa University. Michelle’s practice, Soul Care Counseling, offers mindfulness-based practices that support clients seeking to become less anxious, less stressed, less reactive and more grounded, present and connected with their own inner ally. As a result of their work together, clients are able to communicate with themselves and others with greater clarity, care and compassion. https://soulcaredenver.com/