GROUNDING IN COUNSELLING and ASTROLOGY by Hilary Bond PhD. © Copyright. All rights reserved.
Trauma can cause you to be dissociated; which means you are not present in your body. Grounding as a therapy and exercise is about learning to stay present (or for some get present in the first place) in your body in the here and now. Basically it consists of a set of skills or tools to help you manage dissociation and the overwhelming trauma-related emotions that lead to it. Therapy and daily living skills mean that you must stay present to learn about establishing safety in the present. If you have been under constant threat you may go into automatic survival skills of dissociation. Grounding skills are necessary for good mental and physical health. Grounding can be considered a variant of mindfulness.
When you are ungrounded you are probably not taking care of your body or your finances, in fact your emotions have taken over. And adrenal exhaustion may mean that you become very ill.
Grounding techniques often use the five senses (sound, touch, smell, taste, and sight) to immediately connect people with the here and now. For example, listening to loud music, holding onto a piece of ice, or biting into a lemon are all grounding techniques that produce sensations that are difficult to ignore, thereby directly and instantaneously connecting you with the present moment.
PRACTICAL GROUNDING EXERCISES
Below is a list of grounding techniques that help if you feel anxious, endangered or threatened. If you find grounding techniques that work for you, write them out and keep them handy when you need them. We are all different, so some but all will feel right for you.
• Go for a walk and breathe deeply as you go. Look at the beaut around you.
• Dig in your garden and water your plants.
• Stomp your feet to remind yourself where you are. Press your feet firmly into the ground.
• Try to notice where you are, your surroundings, including the people or the sounds around you, like the TV or radio.
• Concentrate on your breathing. Take a deep, cleansing breath from your diaphragm. Count the breaths as you exhale. Make sure you breathe slowly so you don’t hyperventilate.
• Cross your legs and arms. Feel the sensations of you controlling your body.
• Call a friend and ask them to talk to you about something you have recently done together.
• Take a warm, relaxing bubble bath or a warm shower. Feel the water touching your body.
• Keep a rubber band on your wrist and pluck it. Feel the slight sting as it touches your skin.
• Find your pulse on your wrist and count the beats per minute. Concentrate on feeling the blood pulse throughout your body.
• Go outside and sit against a tree. Feel the bark pressing against your body. Smell the outside aromas like the grass and the leaves. Run your fingers through the grass.
• If you are sitting, stand. If you are standing, sit. Pay attention to the movement change. Reminding yourself, you are in control.
• Rub your palms, clap your hands. Listen to the sounds. Feel the sensation.
• Speak out loud.
• Hold something that you find comforting. For some it may be a stuffed animal or blanket. Notice how it feels in your hands.
• Eat something. Preferably protein. How does it feel?
• If you have a pet, pat them and feel their fur beneath your hand. Say the pet’s name out loud.
• Go to a mirror and make yourself smile. Watch your reflection as your expression changes. How does it make you feel?
• Visualise a bright red STOP sign, to help you stop the flashback and/or memory.
• Step outside. If it is warm, feel the sun shining down on your face. If it is cold, feel the breeze. How does it make your body feel?
• During a non-crisis time, make a list of things that are in your house and what room they are in. Give this list to friends that you can call so they can remind you what is around you.
• During a non-crisis time make a list of positive affirmations. Print them out and keep them handy for when you are having a flashback. Read the list out loud.
• Take a walk outside and notice what is there. Pay attention to houses and count them.
• Listen to familiar music and sing along to it. Dance to it. Feel the beat. Sing along.
• Make a list of known triggers and give it to your counsellor. Ask them if they can help you find a way to desensitise those triggers so they aren’t quite so powerful.
• Write in your journal.
• Imagine yourself in a safe place. Feel the safety and know it.
• Watch a favourite TV program or video. Play a video game.
• Meditate, if you are comfortable doing it.
• Exercise. Ride a bike, lift weights or go for a walk.
Judith Herman, in “Trauma and Recovery”, states that the central task of the first phase of therapy must be safety.
Shamanic soul retrievals will really help as soul pieces dissociate and fly off for our own protection when we are going through trauma. If we have soul pieces out we can become very ill.
OCTOPUS, ASTROLOGY AND BEING EARTHY
In the shamanic world of power animals and totems the octopus is a wonderful symbol of groundedness for those who have watery charts. Watery people are those with a lot of Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces planets and strong Neptune. They can be very emotional and often an excess of Cancer makes for a bit much dwelling in the past. Of course we don’t stay watery all our lives. If we have a late Cancer Ascendant or Sun we may end up by the age we are 40 having a progressed Virgo Sun or Virgo Ascendant and therefore we become much earthier and less sensitive emotionally. We learn to be more organised and get on with life instead of wafting off into the past or mulling about past grievances. Some watery people with a bit much Scorpio or Pluto squares and oppositions in their natal chart can be continually opening old wounds that they do not allow to heal with obsessive thoughts can become fixed neural pathways that are like a robot that needs decommissioning. It is good to have the regular intention of being here now. Have a look at some of Ekhart Tolle’s books.
So Octopus as a partner in meditation is a good friend. Although vastly mobile and quite the traveller, the octopus is primarily a bottom dweller. In symbolic (totem) terms this is analogous of being grounded while still having the ability to exist in the watery world of the psyche. Those with the octopus as their totem would do well to recognize this analogy. It reminds us that we may be spiritual and intuitively gifted; nonetheless we are physical beings and must temper our psychic gifts with strong foundational grounding. Octopus can show us new pathways and he can even cut off limbs and regenerate. Therefore we can transform into new healthy beings who use groundedness as a sensible technique to stay in the present.
RELAXATION THERAPY WITH YOUR OCTOPUS GUIDE
So I’m going to give you a guided visualization with octopus. First lie back on some pillows and breathe. Count seven breaths in, hold for seven and breathe out for the count of seven. Do that ten times at least. Now have the intention of seeing your octopus spirit ally. You soul knows where to go.
You find your octopus ally deep down in an ocean trench. “Come into the mud with me! He urges.
He throws mud and sand on you with his many arms, burying you.
“Relax!” he says,
Then he wraps your mud coated self in his tentacles and a layer of barbed wire.
“What’s that for?” you ask.
“To protect you from the insults, the trauma, the fear, the shock.”
The barbed wire and mud turn into a blue egg shaped soft aura and Archangel Michael appears.
Octopus laughs. “Fun!” he guffaws. The ocean is warm and soothing. The company is good.
You feel your toes relaxing. He sends out a few of his arms to massage you; first your feet, then your ankles and calves. Then you feel the stress leaving your knees and upper legs, your thighs and bottom.
“Ahhhhhhhh!” This feels good.
You feel your root chakra filling with the warmth of Mother Earth. The red is flowing down your legs. They are just the right temperature. So soothing.
Now your torso is relaxing, your groin, your kidneys, pancreas, adrenal glands, your intestines, liver, and heart.
“Ahhhh!” It feels good.
You feel the muscles in your diaphragm and your back and neck muscles relax.
Your jaw is being relaxed gently by your octocpus ally’s probing fingery suckers. Your hearing is getting better as your face relaxes. There is no more tension in your scalp. Your stomach muscles relax.
Peace and good feelings are yours.
When you are ready you float back up to the surface, gently and oh, so slowly in the arms of Archangel Michael. You keep your blue egg of protection around you.
You open your eyes and hold the intention of staying at peace all day.
At regular intervals all day you say, “I love and approve of myself. It is safe for me to stay in my body and care for myself.”
This has been an incredibly short article for me, but I hope it has added to your repertoire of life skills.
May your life be full of peace.