Next time you’re feeling anxious or worried, grounding techniques can bring your attention back to the present moment. Look around you and notice the following:
Grounding through the 5 Senses
What is Grounding?
Perhaps one of the best ways to understand what grounding is… is to understand what it is not. Here are some examples of what you may be experiencing when you are ungrounded:
- Finding yourself “spacing out” often
- Feeling easily distracted
- Finding yourself attracted to and engaging in personal drama
- Anxiety and constant worrying
- Finding yourself obsessing over material possessions
- Finding you are very image conscious
- You struggle to be honest with yourself or others
Being ungrounded can feel like a disconnect from your normal self—your true self. Throw in high amounts of stress (aka: COVID-19) and we become quickly hijacked into experiencing the above symptoms for not just moments, but for days, weeks or months.
Compassion and kindness towards oneself are intrinsically woven into mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention, on purpose to the present moment without judgment. And grounding is the practice that helps reconnect with the present moment.
Bringing Awareness to the Senses
Grounding usually involves bringing your awareness to one of your 5 senses. For example, that split (and very painful) second you become aware that you stepped on your child’s Lego. Or a more pleasant example— the moment just after waking up when your nose dials in to the smell of fresh coffee brewing (thank you, auto brew). It’s hard to be distracted in these kinds of moments because you’re thinking of nothing else but the pain, in the case of the Lego, or the aroma, in the (more desirable) case of the coffee.
The 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique
So let’s get down to identifying tools to build your grounding practice. I’m a fan of simple, effective grounding techniques, preferably ones that I can recall and use anytime, anywhere. Enter the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique.
- Notice 5 things you can see with your eyes. Look around to notice colors, shapes, patterns, light or objects that catch your eye.
- Notice 4 things you can feel. Bring your awareness to the clothes touching your skin, or how your chair feels under your body. Pick up or touch something around you and explore its texture, weight or other properties.
- Notice 3 things you can hear. Try turning your attention to the hum of the ceiling fan, or ticking of a clock. Bring your awareness to the sounds you don’t usually notice.
- Notice 2 things you can smell. What smells are in the air around you? Outdoor scents of flowers or rain? Indoors perhaps you notice the smell of your breakfast or the aroma of a candle.
- Notice 1 thing you can taste. Simply focus on the tastes in your mouth. Notice the taste of a beverage or a snack.
Getting Back to Center
After you engage in this practice, see if you can bring attention to the moment that directly follows. How does your body feel? What did you become aware of through the practice? The more you pause to notice, the more you grow this state-of-being and it becomes your natural state.
Grounding brings us back to center—and closer to who we truly are. It’s an invitation to slow down, return to the present moment with curiosity and compassion, despite the stressors that may continue circling around us.
Wishing you well in your practice.