Grounding: Embodied Presence


Settled. Solid. Full. Here.

It’s a feeling – an experience – that sometimes comes our way. It can settle upon us by grace, perhaps in a moment when we’re sitting on a beach looking out at an ocean or hiking and taking in a mountain vista. Or it may come upon us by our setting out to create the circumstances where it can be born, perhaps through meditating or practicing a body-mind discipline like yoga or tai chi.

When we’re fully in our bodies, we feel here. Present in ourselves and present in our surroundings. Being present in this way isn’t about being present only in our bodies. When we feel here-and-now and settled in our bodies in this way, our mind and our feelings also have that settled, calm, and present quality. Though we’re here in our bodies, when we are fully present in this way, we also feel that we are present in soul and spirit.

And so we intuitively know that grounding isn’t just about the body. Though when it is with us, and we are in the experience, it naturally includes the body.

In bioenergetic analytic work, grounding is fundamental. One can never really ground enough, or too often.

Because we can spend a lot of time high up in our heads – thinking – we often forget about the bodies that we are. Returning to the experience of ourselves as physical beings – that is, returning to the physical experience of our bodies – can be a healing and reintegrating salve to the discomfort and scatteredness that is part of living in our heads. Grounding in the sensations of our bodies can reduce the noise of thinking and help us become aware of a variety of new sensations, including the vital energies that move in and through our body.

Beyond helping us settlegrounding helps us establish a sense of empowerment through more viscerally and directly experiencing our boundaries. Our sense of selves. It helps us establish a foundation, a ground for being in the world, with others. We know where we begin and end so to speak, which in conjunction with being in tune with our insides, tells us what we want. We don’t doubt what feels good to us, that we’re hungry, that we want to touch or be touched. We’re also clearer on what we will not put up with, what is not good for us. The power of boundaries.

In some Chinese approaches to the healing arts, the bias toward working on embodiment (also known as the descending current) first is evident, with much preparatory work given to tuning in over and over to letting down, letting go, and dissolving blocks – all this before other work that might emphasize raising energy, and expanding consciousness upward and outward (the ascending current). In this regard, bioenergetic analytic work has a similar predisposition.  Attunement to being in our body is a way to work with and through strong emotions, troubled histories, and gives us resources for feeling ever more empowered in our daily life.

In the bioenergetic therapy work as well as in the skills training classes, we do quite a bit of work with grounding, from the very beginning.  Tuning in to our bodies, fully, with increasing sensitivity is a fundamental skill to develop and is a route to healing as well as a route to even more subtle awareness, energy, and experiences.

Here’s to being fully in our bodies. Fully grounded. Present, solid, empowered.