Grounding is, simply put, connecting to the present moment, the here and now. Grounding techniques provide ways to connect you to your body and help you feel in control and safe. Within a therapy session this sense of safety is very important to have between the therapist and client and within the space. I call this "building the container." Together we create a safe place where healing can occur.
Just as it would be wise to prepare for hiking in the woods with some provisions (water, a snack, a map, a light and some extra layers of clothing) it is also wise to establish some provisions for the therapeutic journey and this preparation can be establishing techniques that ground you.
These grounding techniques maybe inner body focused or outer body focused. My focus for this article will be outer body focused techniques. Depending upon the individual and their particular history or trauma, one focus will often work better than the other. The therapist and client select the best techniques for the client by getting to know their unique history and needs.
*Remember what one person finds grounding another may find unsettling so trust your instincts on this or get some help to explore and discover what works best for you.
Here are a few techniques for grounding that some people find helpful. I like to access and establish these grounding techniques through the senses… seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling. So what pleases you to look at? What picture calms, soothes and settles you just by looking at it. Could you carry this picture in your pocket? It may be the picture of an animal or a particular landscape. It may be a picture of your younger self.
It is an image that grounds you in the here and now providing a feeling of calm, and safety…. pleasing to you. (Find a picture that brings a smile to your face.)
I enjoy collecting these grounding images, changing them up so they stay fresh and surprising for me. A recent one was a snapshot of a newborn pug puppy. She was so adorable.
I have a photograph of a koala bear with her baby in a eucalyptus tree hanging in my office. I love to look at it. It's calming and pleasing to my senses. A koala bear was the topic of the first essay I ever wrote in Grade 3 or 4. I had a koala bear and her baby as stuffed toys growing up. So the koala bear has been around for a very long time as a guide. It provided me with a sense of connection in a world that lacked safety and connection. (Actually meeting one, live, in Australia was a profound experience for me.)
So that is the process of establishing your grounding techniques. You could explore each of the senses in the same creative way, searching for sounds (birds or Beethoven), smells (lavender oil), tastes (peppermint) and touches (stone) that bring out a sense of grounding and pleasure for you where you smile and your shoulders drop and a 'sigh' happens spontaneously. What are your grounding techniques? Go on a search for the sense experiences that ground and center and calm your nervous system. Let me know what you find as you prepare the grounding for your hike into a deeper, creative life.
Here is a video to further assist you in exploring grounding and resourcing techniques.
Photo of Koala Bears by Lynne Jones of BlueWolf Photography