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Author Topic: Grounding and Centering Techniques  (Read 8248 times)

ThtreLady

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Grounding and Centering Techniques
« on: November 04, 2011, 02:13:30 pm »
Grounding and Centering is one of the first things that gets mentioned when someone starts talking about energy work or how they are feeling, but I seldom see (in the wider pagan universe) a conversation on technique.

For me at least, grounding and centering did not at all come naturally and I really struggled with this "first step" on the path. And because I struggled with grounding and centering, my shield work was a complete mess.  Which was, at the time, hugely discouraging since it seemed to be taken for granted that these were a skills anyone should be able to do.

Eventually, I had a couple of people walk me through their process step-by-step and we worked out something that I could use. This would likely have taken much less time if I hadn't been so shy about announcing my struggles to the world, but it's hard to admit that you aren't getting something.

So, since I am once again exploring various pieces of my belief system and practices - I'd like to go back to this "first step" and see if I can learn something new. (And maybe help other people who find themselves similarly stuck.)

When you find the need, how do you ground and center?  Are the certain motions you make? Images that you keep in mind?

Aisling

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Re: Grounding and Centering Techniques
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2011, 09:40:07 pm »
Quote from: ThtreLady;28847
When you find the need, how do you ground and center?  Are the certain motions you make? Images that you keep in mind?

 
I can empathize with your struggles.  When I initially started pursuing energy work, I had a lot of difficulty with the idea of grounding and centering.  I always felt like I was 'doing it wrong' when I consciously attempted it.  Then someone pointed out that we 'ground and center' in a lot of little ways without calling it that or even consciously realizing we're doing it- taking a deep breath and counting to three, digging our toes into the sand while turning our face to the sun, petting an animal, etc.  It took that realization for me to finally grasp the concept.  

Now, when I need to ground and center, I will typically opt for meditation or yoga. If I'm really feeling severely ungrounded and uncentered, I go outside, plant my bare feet firmly on a patch of earth, slowly stretch my arms over my head and do a tree visualization.  I imagine my feet taking root into the ground and my arms branching out and stretching toward the sun.  I'll hold the pose and visualization until I feel like I'm centered again... or until the neighbors start gathering and whispering. :D:
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MarieBay

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Re: Grounding and Centering Techniques
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2011, 10:19:50 pm »
Quote from: Aisling;28914
someone pointed out that we 'ground and center' in a lot of little ways without calling it that or even consciously realizing we're doing it- taking a deep breath and counting to three, digging our toes into the sand while turning our face to the sun, petting an animal, etc.  It took that realization for me to finally grasp the concept.  

 
Yes! Exactly. It took me years to connect the little things I was doing to manage anxiety with shielding and grounding! The techniques I learned to focus, control breathing, and get rid of excess anxiety/energy translated beautifully to grounding and centering myself, with a few elaborations.

For me, tactile and visual cues were paramount. I would count to four and tap my palm with the fingers of the same hand with each number while breathing in a square (four taps while inhaling, four taps while holding breath, four taps while exhaling, and four while holding). I would focus solely on the feeling of my fingers and breath, and once that was established, I'd move to breathing up through my whole body, drawing the good energy up through the ground and neutralizing the tension.

For specific shielding, I'd imagine myself in a bubble (the size can vary). Light grounding would merit a light, spacious, airy bubble, and as situations require heavier shielding, I'd move through the four elements and smaller bubbles. It would start at a pleasant, gentle cyclone; a liquid bubble or rainstorm-in-a-bubble; a bubble made of tough, gnarled tree roots; and finally a fiery iron-clad spiky impenetrable sphere of doom. The better I'm able to visualize the texture of the bubble, the better it works.

Realizing the two compliment methods and enhance each other was, as I said, a HUGE revelation. It's kind of a strange combo, but it works for me :)

SatSekhem

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Re: Grounding and Centering Techniques
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2011, 08:06:20 am »
Quote from: Aisling;28914
Now, when I need to ground and center, I will typically opt for meditation or yoga. If I'm really feeling severely ungrounded and uncentered, I go outside, plant my bare feet firmly on a patch of earth, slowly stretch my arms over my head and do a tree visualization.  I imagine my feet taking root into the ground and my arms branching out and stretching toward the sun.  I'll hold the pose and visualization until I feel like I'm centered again... or until the neighbors start gathering and whispering. :D:

 
That was always the image that I was told to use, but I have always found it hard. I don't know why. My mind isn't visual, but linguistic, in its very nature. I think that's a lot of the problem: I think that you can't possibly ground/center if you're writing a scene of it in your head. :ashamed:
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Aisling

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Re: Grounding and Centering Techniques
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2011, 09:51:57 am »
Quote from: SatSekhem;28953
That was always the image that I was told to use, but I have always found it hard. I don't know why. My mind isn't visual, but linguistic, in its very nature. I think that's a lot of the problem: I think that you can't possibly ground/center if you're writing a scene of it in your head. :ashamed:

 
Ah, I can see where that would be a problem.  I lean strongly toward the visual side in most mental processes.  Even when I am writing, I see the story in my head as if watching a movie rather than imagine it as a narration or spoken description.

When I ground and center,  I don't think "I am a tree, my feet are rooting into the ground, my arms are becoming branches."  In my head, I just see and feel the process.  If I try to narrate the process as I do it, I end up doing  chanting "Just be the tree.... be the tree...be the tree.... you're not being the tree" a la Chevy Chase in Caddyshack.  

I wonder, though, if a chant or mantra repitition would work better for someone who is more linguistic focused. Interestingly enough, I only find them effective at times when my thinking has shifted toward a more verbal-focus.  More interesting (at least to me) is that this kind of shift usually only happens when I am extremely stressed or depressed. Hmm... I think I need to wander off and think about that one for a bit.
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SatSekhem

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Re: Grounding and Centering Techniques
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2011, 10:19:11 am »
Quote from: Aisling;28973
Ah, I can see where that would be a problem.  I lean strongly toward the visual side in most mental processes.  Even when I am writing, I see the story in my head as if watching a movie rather than imagine it as a narration or spoken description.

When I ground and center,  I don't think "I am a tree, my feet are rooting into the ground, my arms are becoming branches."  In my head, I just see and feel the process.  If I try to narrate the process as I do it, I end up doing  chanting "Just be the tree.... be the tree...be the tree.... you're not being the tree" a la Chevy Chase in Caddyshack.  

I wonder, though, if a chant or mantra repitition would work better for someone who is more linguistic focused. Interestingly enough, I only find them effective at times when my thinking has shifted toward a more verbal-focus.  More interesting (at least to me) is that this kind of shift usually only happens when I am extremely stressed or depressed. Hmm... I think I need to wander off and think about that one for a bit.

 
I was told that mantras or chants might be helpful, but I don't really know what to chant. "I am a tree. I am a tree. My roots are in the ground; I am a tree." That just... doesn't sound right.
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Aisling

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Re: Grounding and Centering Techniques
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2011, 11:53:37 am »
Quote from: SatSekhem;28976
I was told that mantras or chants might be helpful, but I don't really know what to chant. "I am a tree. I am a tree. My roots are in the ground; I am a tree." That just... doesn't sound right.

 
It may be easier for you to ditch the tree metaphor entirely and find on that resonates with you. Or simply go with a "I am grounded. I am centered" kind of thing.
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Stardancer

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Re: Grounding and Centering Techniques
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2011, 11:59:06 am »
Quote from: Aisling;28986
It may be easier for you to ditch the tree metaphor entirely and find on that resonates with you. Or simply go with a "I am grounded. I am centered" kind of thing.

 
Currently working on Israel Regardie's middle pillar exercise. Even when my visualisation isn't up to scratch, the vibrating words/chants plug me right in. I suspect it's because it has been used so many times by so many people, that there is an astral shape there already that you can - well, just plug into. If hermeticism/kabbalah/western magic is in any way connected to your path, you might give it a try. Even if you think vibrating hebrew names of God is a little weird. (I do, but it somehow still works.)
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SatSekhem

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Re: Grounding and Centering Techniques
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2011, 01:23:13 pm »
Quote from: Aisling;28986
It may be easier for you to ditch the tree metaphor entirely and find on that resonates with you. Or simply go with a "I am grounded. I am centered" kind of thing.

 
Hm. I'll try that tonight. (I re-scheduled my Day o' the Dead celebration for tonight.)
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Re: Grounding and Centering Techniques
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2011, 05:11:34 am »
Quote from: SatSekhem;28953
That was always the image that I was told to use, but I have always found it hard. I don't know why. My mind isn't visual, but linguistic, in its very nature. I think that's a lot of the problem: I think that you can't possibly ground/center if you're writing a scene of it in your head. :ashamed:

 
Hmm - that sounds like it's more than just a verbal/linguistic mind; it sounds like you're detached (possibly using your verbal/linguistic affinity to keep yourself at a bit of a distance from be-ing?).  That'd definitely interfere with grounding/centring - maybe less with grounding, but very much so with centring, because that by its very nature is be-ing.

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SatSekhem

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Re: Grounding and Centering Techniques
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2011, 10:02:33 am »
Quote from: SunflowerP;29117
Hmm - that sounds like it's more than just a verbal/linguistic mind; it sounds like you're detached (possibly using your verbal/linguistic affinity to keep yourself at a bit of a distance from be-ing?).  That'd definitely interfere with grounding/centring - maybe less with grounding, but very much so with centring, because that by its very nature is be-ing.

Sunflower

 
That is definitely a possibility. It's easier to not be attached than to be, you know, be.
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Catherine

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Re: Grounding and Centering Techniques
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2011, 10:21:07 am »
Quote from: SatSekhem;29134
That is definitely a possibility. It's easier to not be attached than to be, you know, be.


I usually keep it simple. I stand with my feet slightly apart, so that I feel very stable and balanced, take a few deep breaths to clear my head and release any extra energy I might still be holding, maybe stretch a little, then I'll eat something.

I know it's not much of a technique, as far as that sort of thing goes, but it works for me most of the time.

Inca

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Re: Grounding and Centering Techniques
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2011, 11:34:04 am »
Quote from: SatSekhem;28953
That was always the image that I was told to use, but I have always found it hard. I don't know why. My mind isn't visual, but linguistic, in its very nature. I think that's a lot of the problem: I think that you can't possibly ground/center if you're writing a scene of it in your head.

 
Another way of approaching is going more at it a tactile / muscular way: actually feeling. Just standing, and asking your left foot what it's feeling: what's the surface it stands on? Check every toe to find out if it's relaxed or not. (If it is tensed, you may let go of the tension but sometimes it is enough to just acknowledge that it is tense.)

Check on wether you are standing balanced: is the pressure evenly divided over both feet? Are your hips and shoulders in a straight line above the middle of your feet? And can you make them so while also maintaining relaxation? Experiment with it: sway forward and backward, side to side, twirl your hips in circles. (All slowly, and very minimal, to feel the tiny things that make a difference.)

I have always felt that is centering - both body and mind (if I am aware of my body, and can relax and stabelize it, I can't not be centered in mind too. Although it is easy to fake a 'something that looks like a balanced rigid straight posture' and that's not really centering.)

The grounding, I think it is feeling connected to the world, and perhaps in a very physical way. Two experiences: when I am standing in a moving bus (or another unstable surface) and I can go with the flow without loosing my balance, not by force (the more usual approach) but by relaxation. I also felt so connected the first time I had my walking shoes on a rocky slope: it was amazing to stand on an angled surface and not slip. I felt like I was glued to the ground, it was really cool.  

And working with that, one of the ways I can experiment with that is standing on a slippery floor, experience how you can move your feet sideways and turning while standing, and then making the same movements on a nonslippery surface: that feels really solid, connected. (I am not sure if that's enough to be grounded, but I do think it is a good first start.)

ThtreLady

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Re: Grounding and Centering Techniques
« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2011, 09:41:01 am »
Quote from: SatSekhem;29134
That is definitely a possibility. It's easier to not be attached than to be, you know, be.

 
This.  I find that as soon as I still my body to begin grounding, my mind busily takes off for parts unknown. Or makes grocery lists, whichever.

One of the techniques that ended up working quite well for me was the ADF visualization that had me putting roots down into the ground and pulling up water and then lighting the water with starlight from above me so that I was suspended between both ground and sky.

My shield, when I remember to use it, tends to be made of water as I find myself most comforted by contact with water.  Just a gentle stream or shower when needed and turned to ice if more protection is required, although I've not really mastered that yet.

It is reassuring to find others struggle with this as well.

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Re: Grounding and Centering Techniques
« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2011, 10:01:38 pm »
Quote from: ThtreLady;28847

When you find the need, how do you ground and center?  Are the certain motions you make? Images that you keep in mind?

 
Let me do a quick pause for definitions: centering, for me, is knowing what's me, what isn't me, and being in a position to adapt to what is not me around me as needed. It's one part being present in the moment, one part being self-aware, and one part having energy available to make different choices next moment, if I need to.

[At the moment, I am sitting in the big comfy chair in my apartment, in the dark, with music playing on the wireless headphones, my laptop on the laptop cart in front of me. One leg is bent in front of me, one is bent up against the arm of the chair, and I'm leaning on hip and elbow more than the other. My body is not physically centered, but I can tell you exactly where my center of gravity is.

I also know exactly what the music I'm listening to is doing to my energy state, why I'm taking a break from the writing project to write this post instead, and that I should probably drink so more water sooner than later. That's a pretty good version of centered for me, though there are lots of bits about it that would not be adequate if I were preparing to begin ritual work (I'd care a lot more about physical equality-of-balance issues, for example, and I'd be doing some other things to improve focus.)]

Grounding is connecting my energy to other things, and letting the excess energy in my system siphon off (but not too much!) or, if I am tired, opening to the energy around me in the world (that's extra, not someone else's) and recharging.

[I am sitting here listening to music very deliberately tonight, because music is one of the easiest ways for me to do that, and it was an awesome but long weekend, with some energetically challenging parts. I want to be functional at work tomorrow (today was full of more distractions than I'd like), so restoring that energy to a better balance is a sensible idea. I could also choose to do any number of grounding activities, but deliberate music choice is an easy relatively passive one for me, that works while I'm doing other things.

It did take me a while tonight to figure out what I needed to be listening to: my first two playlist choices were not the right fit. I'm currently listening to a combination of more New Agey things, because it helps get my brain to stop making assumptions about progression to climax and release that's part of a lot of western music.]

I self-taught myself to center and ground in college, and found (at the time) Mercedes Lackey's _Arrow's Flight_ very helpful (as well as bits in the Katherine Kurtz Deryni novels). [This was just before a lot of the Wicca 101ish books were coming out: Cunningham was out, Spiral Dance was out, and had been for a while but the big wave of the late 90s and 2000s hadn't happened yet.)

Initially, I found centering relatively easy (I think in part because I've generally always had a good idea of what was me and what was not-me, but also because I've spent a lot of time in physical activity - horseback riding, skiing, a certain amount of dance training, music training) where self-awareness, balance, and a certain degree of being able to think in multiple dimensions at once tend to be helpful.

Grounding, though, took me a lot longer.

Part of it was that I had a really horrible time working with earth as a grounding source. I got the theory, but the "tree roots down" type meditations never really worked for me. (I suspect this is because of a certain degree of allergy to particular kinds of theatre warmup exercises that comes from being the child of a theatre professor who thought them just as silly.) I had a much easier time grounding into running water - usually just standing near some helped, but dipping my fingers into it was even easier. A lake or pond would do in a pinch, or moving air, like after a storm.

I'm very much a verbal and musical learner, okay at kinesthetic and spatial stuff, and really pretty lousy with visuals. The meditation approach that did work for me eventually was one I learned in my trad training, that involves balancing energy from the earth and the sky, and is more abstract in some ways than tree, roots and branches. (though once it clicked, I could make the tree imagery work okay.)

What I'd mostly figured out before that, though, was that I could tell when I was feeling off. And if I could tell, I could do more stuff about it. Sometimes that was the physical cures (food, sleep, physical contact with someone, doing something that removes the energetic high (dealing with necessary chores that require thought, listening to the news). Sometimes it was picking the right music. Sometimes it was stopping and taking a couple of deep breaths.

When I do pause for the long form these days, it usually goes something like this:

- Take a deep breath, all the way from my diaphragm, letting my center of awareness slide downwards, anchoring into my physical center of gravity. (As with many women, that's roughly womb-centered for me: it's where the physical center of women's bodies tends to be. Men tend to be somewhat higher, nearer the solar plexus, but there are lots of possible variations.)

I tend to feel this sort of like extra-thick water rolling down my back, like it does in the shower, and pooling lower in my body.

- If I'm standing, I may rock back and forth from toe to heel once or twice, to find where my weight is balanced on my feet, both front to back and side to side. If I'm sitting, I may do the same thing on my seatbones.

I generally find that leaning my torso back about 5 degrees from the vertical (or at least what *feels* like that) helps - it combats the tendency to reach forward that many of us develop from lots of time on the computer.  Lifting my chin to let my head pivot up and around the top of her my jaw and neck connect helps too.

- Another deep breath never hurts.

- And then I work through what energy I need and don't need. I tap into the nearest place where it's appropriate to send the excess and more or less open a faucet to let it flow out, mentally. If I need extra, I do the opposite, letting it flow into me (though that's more like a slower osmosis, like sticking a dry sponge into a bowl of water.)

One of the reasons so many grounding exercises focus on earth is that there is an amazing amount of earth compared to how much of any one of us there is. Whatever energy we dump into it is probably not going to make things notice much. That's really handy.

(Also, we always know where the earth is in relation to us: we may not know the nearest body of water, or what the wind is doing outside precisely, or have a nearby safe and controlled flame to work with. It's possible to direct energy into, and draw energy from, all of these sources, but it's a bit trickier. The sun is obviously a fire-related source, but it's awfully far away and very untouchable and unknowable in a lot of ways.)

Another option, though not one I'd suggest to anyone without substantial experience in other methods, is to direct the excess energy into some purpose. For example, when I ground out excess, I usually send the extra either into the house wards, into my tradition's ongoing energetic needs, or to a friend who has asked for that kind of help and energy, and where I feel comfortable doing it without advance warning to them or additional structure. (I know lots of people who do energy work. There are about 3 people I'd do that to without double checking first, and one of them very rarely wants excess. But they do exist.)

- I may also run through a longer meditation (usually using the tradition form), especially if I want to draw in or rebalance energy, rather than get rid of excess. (By longer, I mean 'takes 2-3 minutes, not 20 seconds', usually. When I was first learning, that form took me about 5-8 minutes, because I had to pause for each step.)

Does that help any? (I have hit the point where I may start rambling, so I'm going to stop here.)
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