- Erika Shershun, MA, MFTI
Making Peace With Your Unwelcome Emotions, Part I: Grounding
Updated: Sep 12, 2020
Welcome to my blog! I'm beginning this journey with a topic that leads many to seek relief: persistent challenging or unwelcome emotions. We all experience them at some point, feelings such as irritation, overwhelm, jealousy, dread, anger, rage, shame, and humiliation. These difficult emotions are often signpost pointing to areas of our lives that need attention. Sometimes they are symptoms of deep-rooted wounds or traumas that are crying out for healing, and other times they simply require us to slow down and process what we're experiencing.
When working with challenging emotions, one of the first questions I ask my clients is whether or not they feel their connection to the ground. To those of you who are unfamiliar with somatic practices this may sound insignificant, or even ridiculous, yet unlike our thoughts, our bodies exist one hundred percent of the time in the present; grounding helps us to come into our bodies and be fully present, where our past and future concerns recede, allowing for greater access to what is. It is from this place that we can begin to make peace with our emotions.
Our culture reveres the mind, and as a whole our energy is focused higher in the body. Many of us don't realize we have lost connection with our physicality because we're so used to tuning out sensations as we keep our focus on our thoughts. However our bodies are not simply appendages of our brains, and when most of our energy is centered upward in our heads an imbalance of the autonomic nervous system is created, producing anxiety and an over-reactive sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is what initiates the fight-flight response, hence one may feel out of control of ones emotions. This upward shift of energy can be heightened by trauma and can eventually lead to depression. Grounding helps to bring awareness back into the body, increasing nervous system regulation, and supporting reconnection on all levels of experience.
That may sound complicated, but grounding is not, and what follows are two example's of how to get down and ground. Both can be done either sitting or standing. The first is more kinesthetic and begins with placing your hands on your thighs pressing inward bringing awareness to the physicality of your legs. Next feel your feet making contact with the floor, then the weight of your body and gravity connecting you to the earth. As you sense a connection with the ground bring awareness to your spine, the back of your legs, the bottom of your feet, and to your breath.
The second practice requires your imagination and starts with picturing a cord, rope or energy that begins at the top of your head, travels down through the base of your skull, your neck, through each vertebra to the base of your spine, then down through whatever surfaces are supporting you into the ground below, continuing through the different layers of soil, rock and minerals deep into the center of the earth where it securely takes root. Some are drawn to an image of an anchor attached to the cord or rope, while others imagine growing strong roots. Again, as you sense a connection with the ground bring awareness to your spine, the back of your legs, the bottom of your feet, and your breath. There are many variations of these practices, play, get creative and make them your own.
In addition, there are Traditional Chinese Medicine practices I teach my clients, as well as some yoga, meditation, and movement practices that pull energy downward. Whatever helps you to strengthen your connection to this amazing orb we've hitching a ride on through the Milky Way is right for you. Over time a practice of grounding will improve your ability to access and feel your emotions, while at the same time bringing a greater sense of safety as you experience what is present in a more embodied way. To feel the breadth and depth of your connection as you draw strength and guidance from your body and the living Earth.
Part II will explore acknowledging and allowing our emotions.