Before I learned to ground, life was pretty uncomfortable.
I’d have a conversation with a friend, and although everything on the surface sounded fine, I would walk away with a vague feeling that all was not ok. I would walk into a public place and if someone was upset, my attention would zero in on them like a laser. Sometimes it was hard to concentrate because I was so focused on other what others were feeling. Relationships were a special kind of hell, if my partner wasn’t doing alright. If they sighed the wrong way, or if they were in a bad mood it ruined my whole day.
I’m an empath, that means I can feel what other people are feeling. Even when they don’t tell me. You might be one too, many of us are. Especially women, but I know plenty of empathic and sensitive men too.
As a healer being an empath is extremely helpful. I can relate to people, I can be with them in their pain, fear or doubt. But I wasn’t actually able to use my empathic talents for healing until I learned some basic self care strategies for keeping myself healthy.
For me the main one was grounding.
When you are empathic, your nervous system actually reacts to the emotions of other people. When you are an empath it is as if your nervous system extended past your skin into the room. Emotions of other people are like radio waves that are sent through the room and picked up by your nerve endings, and processed in your body as if they were your own emotions. Research has shown that all humans have this ability, but for empaths its like a super power.
We’ve all experienced how emotions can make us physically sick. But if you are an empath, just being around someone who is upset can also make you sick. When we pick up other people’s emotions it sets off the ‘fight or flight’ response in our bodies. When this happens we are unable to distinguish between perceived danger and real life-threatening circumstances. We them both as the same thing.
Like any electrical system, our nervous system needs grounding too. The earth has a unique ability to absorb and neutralize electrical impulses. It also has an ability to do that for us. When we ground we are getting in touch with the stabilizing and neutralizing force of the earth to help us discharge emotions and energy. Plus grounding gets us out of our heads, back in our bodies, and helps us relax and engage the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the opposite of the ‘fight or flight’ response.
There are lots of ways to feel grounded. Eating food, walking barefoot on grass, resting, napping, spending time in a safe neutral environment. All of these will eventually ground you if you do them for long enough. But when I talk about grounding, what I mean is a specific meditative exercise of creating an energetic chord attached to the earth. Using this exercise has allowed me to ground almost instantly, any time I want, no matter where I am or how stressful the circumstances.
I visualize it as a root system that extends down into the earth. I take a full 5 minutes or longer to ‘grow’ these roots down into the soil, and I visualize them traveling all the way to the center of the earth.
Once my root system is in place I can then use the energy of the earth to soak up anything I might have absorbed from other people. I can also actively draw up energy from the earth, saving and conserving my own precious supply of energy.
I first learned about the value of grounding when I studied Shiatsu. One of the first things we would do before working on someone is to ground ourselves. That way we could use our own bodies as channels for directing Qi, but we weren’t actually spending any of our own Qi on other people.
When you use your body as a conduit for other energies, be it getting empathic information, doing energy work, or just being sensitive, grounding allows us to have a safe place for all that extra energy to go.
If you suspect you might be an empath and want to learn this step-by-step technique for grounding, plus other energy exercises that are essential for being healthy when you are sensitive, check out my class Essential Exercises for Empaths. From now until January 1st the class is on sale: pay what you can. And I mean it, pay whatever you can.
photo credit: pontla via photopin cc