How to Ground and Center
Have you ever heard of someone being referred to as "down to Earth" or "grounded"? Some people seem to have a stability or peace to them that keeps them from getting out of control, or carried away. There are a variety of ways to reach that state, and this is one of them. "Grounding and centering" is a visualization and meditation exercise you can use to focus yourself on the present and learn to feel more whole, more aware. Try it whenever you are stressed, worried, or nervous. The image of a tree evokes feelings of stability and connectedness for many people. This may take some practice, but with diligence you may find that this exercise helps you live in the moment.
Sit in a chair with your feet on the ground to begin. Choose a quiet place without disturbances. As you practice this exercise, you can perform it anywhere.
Notice your breathing. Clench your stomach, tighten your muscles and breathe up high in your chest. How does that make you feel? People often say, "anxious," "tense," "panicky." Chest breathing is not deep breathing, and it is often an unconscious reaction to stress or trouble.
Relax your stomach and let your breath down into your belly. Imagine it flowing down into your toes as your belly expands. Do you start to feel different? Some people find this sort of deep breathing unnatural. To learn it, put your hand on your belly, breathe so that your belly pushes your hand out. Practice regularly, so that it becomes easy and natural.
Close your eyes. Imagine your breath pushing down through the base of your spine, through your feet, like a tree pushing down its roots. Imagine those roots pushing down through the floor and into the soil below. Imagine they can feel something of the quality of the earth, what grows there, and how healthy it is. Push down through the waters under the soil, down through the bedrock, and down into the center. If there's still any tension or fear, let that go through your "roots". For some people, imagining that there is a fire at the center of the Earth and throwing negative feelings into the fire helps to make those feelings dissipate.
Imagine you can draw some of that fire up. Feel it as the earth's living creative energy, and bring it up through the rock and the water and the soil. Bring it into your legs and feet, like a tree's roots would draw up water and nutrients.
Bring it up your spine and imagine your spine growing like a tree trunk, reaching up to the sky. Bring some fire into your heart, into any place inside you that needs healing or extra energy. As you imagine the growth and energy flowing into you, raise and open your posture and re-focus on your breath.
Direct the energy up through your arms and out of your hands, up through your neck and throat and out the top of your head. Visualize branches of energy that reach up to the sky, and let them spread around you and reach back down to touch the earth, creating a protective filter around you. Take a moment, look at that energy web, and notice if there are any places that need to be repaired or strengthened. Send energy in that direction.
Imagine the energy of the sun, shining down on your leaves and branches. Breathe deep; draw that energy in. Breathe it down through your leaves and branches, down through your heart and your belly and your hands. Take it in, feed on it like a tree feeds on sunlight.
Open your eyes. Look around you. How do you feel? Relaxed? Revitalized? More attentive?
Imagine your feet have sticky roots. Let them sink into the earth and then release when you start to move. Walk around a little. Feel connected with the ground. Feel the imaginary roots grip and release.
Stretch your arms out to your sides as you move, as far as they'll go, until you can't see your hands if you look straight ahead. Now wiggle your thumbs, and slowly bring your arms in until your thumbs are just visible on the edge of your peripheral vision. Notice how wide your field of vision can be. As you walk, breathing deep, grounded, activate that peripheral vision. Know that you can be aware of what's going on around you.
Come back to stillness. As you breathe, feel where it is in your body this grounded place seems to live, and touch that place. Can you find an image for this grounded state? A word or phrase you can say? When you use these three together—touch, image, and phrase—you create an anchor to help you ground quickly in any situation.