Trauma 101 Essentials: Grounding

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Before we do anything else in our sessions, we ground. I’ve been doing it so long and for so many years, that I’ve forgotten it is a new or poorly understood concept for many. Rina, one of my intellectual clients, head working overtime and body nowhere to be found (sound familiar?), reminded me when she spent the majority of one of our sessions trying to understand the concept.

You can’t think grounding, you’ve got to feel it.  Imagine that your body is a live wire, downed by some horrible Nor’easter.  Sparks flying all over the place!  Trauma has that effect, so much overwhelming and unpleasant energy coursing sharply and erratically through our bodies that we can practically smell the sizzle, or on the other hand, past the sizzle and well into burn-out. Grounding works like the third prong on a plug, or the post at the end of the wire…it absorbs some of the excess energy that would otherwise lead to shorting out.

If you have trauma, or know someone who does, you’re probably saying “oh, yeah!” right now.  Stuck stress, another way of describing trauma, changes our relationship with the vital energies that move through our living bodies. We learn to disown completely the instinctual defense mechanisms, like anger, and turn away from our sadness because, hell, there’s no comfort for it anyway.  That being done, however, those energies don’t go anywhere…they just seem to build over time, leading us to the next step: leaving our bodies altogether.

Dissociation is a blessing! If I were in a car accident, could see the other car coming and couldn’t get out of the way in time, I only hope I could leave my body in time not to feel the impact! And while some of us actually have the experience of leaving our bodies, of seeing the injury or the assault as if from the outside, usually it’s just the experience of being relatively or completely out of touch with our inner physical sensations.  And it is fairly normal to not always be in deep connection with our sensational experience. Not always. But when we can’t get back into our bodies even when we want, to enjoy an embrace or a luscious meal, then our lives lose color.

So we must find another alternative, and grounding, to take the edge off of that built-up distressing energy, is a great alternative!  Feel free to use this audio recording of my own to practice at home:

This YouTube video by Irene Langeveld is one of the better ones for how to ground, and is particularly suited to those of us who are highly sensitive to others’ energies, as well as an overabundance of our own. 

Hope this helps.

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