Bob Van Oosterhout

Clarifying Grounding
Support Opportunity & Service Circles - A Neigborhood Organizing Tool
About Bob (...What about Bob?)
Anger and Impulse Control
Anxiety, Depression, PTSD
Behavioral Health Integration with Primary Care
Bring Truth to Fear: We CAN Work Together
Hard Times Cafe Model of Empowerment
Links to Videos for Online Stress Management at LCC
Managing Chronic Pain and Headaches
Mental Health
Moral Philosophy
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Practical Psychology: What Works and Makes Sense
Problem Solving - Responding Effectively to Problems
Slow Down and Lighten Up
Spiritual Writing
Stress Management
What Works
Resume/Curriculum Vitae
Comments, Suggestions, Discussion


Clarifying Grounding:

A number of students in previous classes have reported that they felt discomfort practicing grounding in the standing position. That is a normal response to this exercise.

There are two reasons to practice grounding. The first is to become aware of where our tension is and how we tense up in response to stress. Tension will be experienced as discomfort. Discomfort is different from pain. Pain is an indicator of something wrong and means you need to stop. Discomfort is an indicator of tension. Once you know of where the tension is, stretching or slow easy movements will help to release it. With continued practice, you become aware when you are beginning to tense and can stop it before the tension builds.

For example, if during grounding I start to feel discomfort in my shoulders, I can slowly move them in different directions and gently rotate my arms and neck to relieve some of the tension. As I practice these movements during grounding over time, I will become aware of when my shoulders start to tense a little bit during the day (They will feel like they are raising up). I stop the tension by simply letting my shoulders drop. This also helps me to become aware of when a stressor is starting to have an impact on me. I can now take other actions to deal with the stressor and prevent it from interfering with my day.

The second reason to practice grounding is to "put our feet on the ground." We become more aware of our surroundings when we are grounded. It slows us down and keeps us in touch with what is happening in the present moment. If we have practiced it regularly, it prevents us from reacting and gives a chance to choose the best course of action. I have used grounding a lot with clients who have problems controlling their temper. It slows the reaction enough so they can realize the potential consequences of their actions and choose another way.

It is normal for one’s legs to shake during grounding - its simply the body’s way of releasing tension. Be sure to continue breathing though. Sometimes people forget and hold their breath - this creates more tension.

Grounding will not necessarily have an immediate effect. It becomes more effective as you practice it regularly. It is important to practice the diaphragmatic breathing while grounding if possible. This stops tension from building while you are working on releasing it.

If you are unable to tolerate grounding in the standing position, you can practice by pressing your feet into the ground while sitting or lying on your back with your knees up. This tends not to be as effective but can still be very helpful.

If you have pain while grounding, try letting up a bit. Bend your knees less. Try a wider stance. If you are unsure of your posture, tape a piece of string with a weight on the end to the top of a mirror. Stand sideways and line yourself up with the string as indicated in the book. The position of the pelvis is critical. Most people tend to tilt the pelvis forward a bit - this can increase back pain. The grounding stance basically lines you up with the forces of gravity so that your muscles need to do minimal work to maintain the position. Muscles that are working anyway out of habit are those that you habitually tense.

There are a couple reasons why some people experience light-headed-ness with grounding. One, if you have sinus problems, hanging over will cause a problem. Second, coming up too quickly from the hanging over position will often cause temporary feeling of dizziness.

I believe grounding is critical for anyone who is working in a profession that requires being receptive to others, especially massage or counseling. When we are grounded we are more aware of what is happening around us and more able to tune into the needs of the people we are serving. Tension leads us to work "on" or "for" others rather than "with" them. Being grounded allows us to be sensitive to what is needed and appropriate.