By Larry Wilcock
Life takes its twists and turns. Some things feel meaningful, others not so much. Meanings change, right? Our language has changed so much over the years, and do I dare say it? Yes, I dare. It hasn’t necessarily changed for the better. Words have been twisted and turned and gutted and misunderstood, and quite often—nay, too often–they have been misused and downright abused. It’s so confusing!
I mean, just a few weeks ago I heard a couple of young guys relaxing out by their truck, smoking and hangin’, shooting the breeze. I only picked up on one phrase in their whole conversation as I walked by. It made no sense to me. Here is the phrase;
“Dude, that was so dank, man!” “Dank” was describing whatever “it” was, and was said with a sense of awe and wonder, like being dank was special or something. What?!? Do people not know what words mean anymore? I don’t see a lot of wonder in the meaning of the word “dank”. How can “dark, musty and humid” invoke such a sense of awesomeness and positivity? Seriously?!?
Remember the day when the word “grounded” actually had something to do with electricity? Or when I would get in trouble and my parents would “ground” me, putting me on house arrest for an indeterminate amount of time, until they either got tired of me being underfoot all the time, or I was let off for good behavior or some such thing. Neither meaning to the word had much of a peaceful energy behind them.
And yet, here I am today, teaching my clients how to ‘get grounded’, actually encouraging them to do so voluntarily, of all things! No, not house arrest. And no, no lightning rods. Just breathing and holding still. No kidding. The English language provides many such meanings for a single word. “Grounding” is one of them.
There is a powerful lesson in “grounding” a child when misbehaviors occur. There is nothing but raw power when grounding electrical currents. But when we breathe calmly and hold still,…..well, what power is there in that? A lot, actually. A lot.
What is the meaning of this particular use of the word? What thoughts or memories or feelings are evoked in the individual? All word usage changes over time, and this one is no exception. This word has evolved, no longer being mocked as a stereotypical use of the flower child weirdness, or the peace and free love movement. It is no longer completely associated with the Tibetan monk using grounding to begin meditation to lift himself off the ground, which, frankly, seemed to be the opposite of grounding. And, this one is my favorites. You’ve probably heard it and shaken your head at the absurdity of it. It’s the mass meditation session on yoga mats when participants are told to “empty your minds.” Really?! Aw, c’mon, folks! The mind isn’t designed to be emptied, it is designed to be thinking and processing on a perpetual level of operations! It can’t be emptied! Get real, people!
Aw, shucks, man! Then what’s the point or purpose or power of grounding? The answer to that is so simple and expansive and powerful, it almost presents itself by way of explanation as nearly insignificant or laughable. It is so easy as to be done in a blink of an eye. It achieves in a few seconds what weeks, or perhaps even months of therapy might accomplish.
It stills the mind.
No kidding. We have billions of thoughts, feelings, sensations, stimuli, and emotions running through our mind at any given nano second of the day, collecting data all day long. We think the mind is still while we sleep, but in actuality the mind uses that time to initiate a magnificent filing system while we’re resting, trying to make sense of all the data it collected during the day, busy, busy, busy, busy, never stopping, ever processing. It never stops! Like, never ever!
With all that info coming in and being processed all day and all night, how is one supposed to focus on a single thought or memory? How is one able to isolate a feeling or instance that seems forgotten, and pull it to the recollection amidst all the supposed chaos happening in the brain? How is one to find the right file in the mind amidst the billions that are already in there?
I don’t know how to explain it entirely. I have experienced it many times and know what it feels like, the effect that it has, how much easier it makes it for me to figure out my “stuff”.
Perhaps I can describe it thus. I will try to describe what I mean by painting a vivid picture by way of analogy. The mind is a tornado of information and experiences you’ve collected along the way, picking up debris at lightning speed, whirling around grabbing this here, throwing that there, sucking up information and stimuli in less than a blink of an eye, swimming around in the mind on a path to break it all asunder so it can put it back together again later in an attempt to make sense of all that came into its path.
Not to undermine the brain’s miraculous analytical power, but sometimes it feels like chaos in there. When a person holds still and breathes, starts to relax and focus on that breathing, it is as if the tornado in the mind begins to calm a bit, like a button has been pushed to rewind and set it into slow motion. What was a blur before can now come into focus as it slowly moves along, allowing you to reach out and pluck what was previously obscure, giving the power to isolate it, examine it, and notice every intricate detail. Has the tornado stopped? Nah. But grounding gives the mind the opportunity to slow it down and see things that were previously not see-able. Or blurry, at best.
The instructions are easy.
- Be still
That’s it. It’s really that simple. In my humble, yet experienced opinion, it is the more effective equivalent of “count to 10” or “take a knee”.
Some might be disappointed in the simplicity of it. Some might want more drama or instruction. But that’s it. Really. I will list them again.
- Hold still. Just be still. Sit calmly.
- Breathe. Breath in, slowly breathe out. Listen to how it sounds. Just breathe
And, voila! You’re grounded!
The ease with which you can pop that tornado into slow motion comes with practice, but the results are astounding. Grounding stills the mind. It just does. Such a simple thing, but such expansive possibilities.
Now, if anyone were to tell me I was grounded, I won’t visualize a lightning rod, nor will I get that nasty ball in the pit of my stomach when I get consequences for doing something wrong. Now, if I were to hear someone say “You’re grounded, young lady!” I would happily turn to them and say,
“Why thank you! I am happy you noticed!”