The Basics of Grounding
Grounding is the act of using the mind and body to clear excess energy away.
Very literally, it is the act of getting closer to the earth, or putting our feet firmly on the ground. Grounding is a fundamental skill, not just in magic and ritual, but in everyday life too. It is one of the basic tools to be used in energy work and is a necessary skill for all pagans who work with energy, and all people who can be quite highly strung!
There are many ways to ground, but the most common way is through visualisation.
1. Sit, lie or stand somewhere quiet. Close your eyes (if you wish). Focus on your breathing and try to breathe from your diaphragm (just below the lungs) instead of high up in your chest. Consciously slow your breathing down.
2. Focus on your muscles, particularly tight spots like your shoulders, hands, feet, chest, head/forehead and neck. As you breath in and out, see your muscles relaxing.
3. Imagine that you are a large tree in a wide open field. You have branches that reach to the sky, and roots that reach all the way down, deep into the earth. As you exhale, send all your excess energy or stress, or bad feelings down through your spine, through your legs, and into the roots in the ground. There the earth will recycle or use that energy as it needs it.
4. Continue to do this for as long as you feel you need to, always aware of your slow breathing, and the energy that you're directing away.
5. When you have finished, become aware of your body by focusing on things like; the sensation of what you're lying / sitting / standing on, the feel of any breeze or clothing on your skin, the heaviness of your flesh etc. Make sure that you focus on physical sensations because this is very helpful to the grounding process.
6. Wiggle your toes and fingers. Open your eyes (if you closed them). You should be feeling much more calm and relaxed. This feeling of stability is known as being 'grounded.'
Visualisation 1 can be adapted so that you are sitting against an actual tree and sending your energy through the tree, instead of through yourself. Sitting in nature can be very helpful when it comes to grounding. It can also be adapted for sitting against rocks / buildings / or anything that has part of its structure go deep into the ground. The reason we send excess energy there is because the earth stores it and uses it for later, it safely removes excess energy away from other people, and the element of Earth is a grounding and stabilising element.
If you are quite a high-strung person (i.e. get stressed easily, lose control of your breathing, aren't very in touch with your body) or aren't used to energy work, then visualisation isn't always the most effective method. In Wiccan covens, it is common to eat after ritual, and one of the reasons for this is that physical activity like the consumption of food and drink is very grounding!
Consider the following activities:
Eating and Drinking
When you have just finished ritual, or are noticing that you're feeling very stressed out, consider grounding through slowly eating and drinking. Eat simple foods, like half a piece of bread, or a biscuit, and savour it. Know that you are sharing with the bounty of the earth, and really notice the flavours and the action of chewing and swallowing. When you drink (hot beverages like tea are really fantastic for grounding), do so slowly, savour each sip and focus entirely on what you are doing. As you narrow your focus, you also force all that excess energy to go away so that you are grounded and stable.
Stretching is a wonderful way to ground. Find stretches that are gentle on your body (such as stretching your arms towards the ceiling, or bending down and letting the energy flow out of your hands into the ground directly). The key word with stretching is to go slow. Slow your breathing down, focus on how it feels to move your muscles, and if you feel pain then stop! This should feel good, not painful.
Simple household chores are actually extremely grounding, they require physical activity, but they are also generally simple and repetitive, and this combination makes them excellent for helping you to contain your stress and excess energy and focus. When vacuuming or sweeping, imagine that you are sucking up all the negative energy into the vacuum, or sweeping it away. You can even imagine that the vacuum is sucking up your own excess energy. While washing the dishes, become aware of the sensation of water around your hands, and the feeling of the earth against your fingers (most kitchen implements after all, come from the Earth element).
Having a Shower or Bath
Taking a shower or bath can literally help you to 'wash' excess stress and energy away. One of my favourite visualisations while in the shower every morning, is to imagine all my negative and unwanted energy flowing down the drain. It is very refreshing, and the warm water helps us to stay focused on our body instead of letting our head drift into the clouds (which is the opposite of grounding). When cleaning your body, you can literally 'scrub away the bad energy' through visualisation, or wash away the stress.
The basic goal of grounding is to make sure that you are calm, focused and stable so that you feel more in control (particularly for stress-related problems) and that you are not carrying around excess energy from ritual which can be problematic! Ground before and after ritual, when you're stressed out, after visualisation, and whenever you feel it's necessary! You can do the physical exercises whenever you want to, and if you try and do them once a day you will notice a difference in your general well-being.
Give one or two of them a try and see how you go!