This short article outlines an easily-practised grounding meditation. There are two stages: the first involves settling yourself into a relaxed state whilst the second eases your attention deep into your body. These two practices work together to create a sense of calm and stability: beneficial mental qualities to have in any situation.
- Mindfulness meditation (the basis of the techniques outlined in this article) has been proven to reduce stress and increase subjective well-being.
- The purpose of these meditations for grounding is to reconnect with that felt sense of stability that resides in each of us. When we feel that we’re not being pulled to and fro by the circumstances of our life – good or bad – we can act with greater clarity and wisdom.
- Connecting with this foundation, this firmness, also means that we are less likely to fall into despair as we come up against the painful emotions that are part and parcel of everyday life. This emotional non-reactivity has also been researched.
Part 1: Body Awareness
It’s important not to place any heavy demands on yourself. The purpose is to relax. Whilst having a specific meditation object, such as the breath, is beneficial for certain practices, it does increase the likelihood of becoming too tense of frustrated in the attempt to stay focused. By loosely letting your awareness rest first in the body and second on the breathing, you often overcome this hurdle.
Follow these simple guidelines:
1. We are looking to foster three qualities: ease, stillness and alertness.
2. Begin by taking a handful of deep, calming breaths. Let your awareness gently “fill” your body with each one. Let each exhalation be a “letting go.”
4. When you feel comfortable, allow your attention to loosely rest on the sensations of the breathing as they manifest in your body during each inhalation and exhalation.
5. Whenever you notice that your attention has drifted, gently return to your bodily sensations. Counteract distraction with deeper relaxation, not by wilfully focusing, which can often lead to more tensing.
Part 2: Rising & Falling of the Abdomen
Focusing on the belly is an excellent way to cultivate a sense of being grounded. It is almost as though you are pulling your awareness deep into your body.
Follow these simple guidelines to get started:
1. Adopt a sitting posture (lying down and sitting on a straight back chair are also fine) and close your eyes.
2. Place your attention on your abdomen, at a point that readily stands out to you.
3. As the abdomen rises, observe the movement from start to finish. As it falls, continue to simply observe.
4. Don’t try to change or alter your breathing.
5. Noticing that you have fallen into distraction or started to provide a commentary to the movements is a sign of success in your meditation. Simply return to the non-judgemental, present-moment awareness of the rising and falling of your belly. This “returning” is the essence of mindfulness.
6. Each time you “return” your attention it is as though you are lifting a weight and strengthening the muscle of your mind.
7. You may find it helpful to label the movements (rising, falling, rising, falling) silently in your mind for a while.
8. Before opening your eyes, rest in the feelings of centred-ness and calm for a few moments.
The Attention Revolution by B. Alan Wallace.
Image credit: Focused by Nels Tridlar