The Importance of Grounding
By Barbara Janelle M.A., B. Sc.
Grounding, the energetic connection with the Earth, is important to health. Procedures to support grounding are an integral part of the Therapeutic Touch treatment. Grounding draws more energy into the field through the chakra system. Grounding is a call to the spirit to come fully into the body and this supports physical health and mental and emotional well-being. Grounding is also a definition of life.
Grounding Energizes the Field
A strong energetic connection with the Earth draws more energy in through the field and out through the feet and Root Chakra. In Therapeutic Touch, a primary focus is on energy entering the field through the Crown and Heart Chakras, as well as the Solar Plexus, Splenic and Sacral Chakras. The field normally takes a lot of energy in through the Root Chakra from the Earth too but TT practitioners do not work with that flow directly.
Embodiment of Spirit
In a talk he gave some years ago, Depth Psychologist Aaron Kipnis said “Wholeness involves the embodiment of spirit…an uninhabited body is more susceptible to disease.” (1)
Frequently in working with people and animals, a practitioner will find that there is more energy in some part(s) of the body and less in other parts. Often in people, there is more energy in the front or to one side of the body; in animals more energy is often found in the front or upper front part of the body. This is mirrored by the grounding in that it may be stronger in one foot (in animals it is often stronger in the front feet and weaker in the back feet). This is aptly described by phrases referring to the relationship of spirit and body: “She was beside herself with anxiety, fear, concern, etc.,” “He is always ahead of himself,” etc. Particularly with animals, but also with people, those who are out in front of themselves are often pushy and do not know their own boundaries. The spirit is somewhat disassociated from the body.
Strengthening the grounding increases the flow of energy through the field and also calls the spirit to be fully present in the body; this results in better physical, emotional and mental balance. In animals and people this can translate into greater steadiness, confidence and ability to cope with the changes that life presents.
Sudden shock from fear or trauma can result in a significant disassociation of the spirit from the body that is accompanied by intense trembling as well as by changes in circulatory parameters. Surgery can cause some disassociation between spirit and body and a person can feel as though some part of self has gone missing. This recognizable symptom can be effectively addressed with a soul retrieval ceremony. Grounding procedures can significantly help to maintain wholeness.
Grounding as Definition of Life
When a person, an animal or a plant is alive, grounding – the energetic connection with the Earth, no matter how slight, is present. On dying, the grounding diminishes and upon death it disappears. Death is the separation of spirit from the body.
Assessment of Grounding
Visualizing the receiver’s grounding, either with or without gently touching the feet, will give an image or sense of the quality of grounding. Visualization is very much an individual practitioner’s process, but there is some agreement that grounding images come either with pictures of roots, connection with the ground, and/or energy flow through into the ground. (There are very likely many other ways in which information comes too.)
Assessment should include a check to see if grounding from both feet (or in the case of animals, all four feet) is equal. Weak grounding indicated by shallow or thready roots, reduced energy movement, or a sense of floating slightly above the ground, usually indicates reduced energy flow in the field. This can result in the development of a physical problem. In animals, grounding problems may translate into health problems, behavior issues or both. (2)
Supporting and Strengthening Grounding
Directing the field with visualizations of stronger roots spreading wide and going deeper is often effective in strengthening grounding. This can also be enhanced with unruffling and supporting a flow of energy down through the legs.
An even more effective and elegant way to support grounding is to gently touch the feet or the spine and ask the Earth to hold this one. The Earth is a conscious living being and all life forms are part of her, maintaining an energetic connection with her.
Many years ago when I was first learning to do Therapeutic Touch, the idea of grounding was not yet well developed. Practitioners would start at the head and unruffle down through the field, frequently increasing the build-up of energy in the lower back and hips of seated receivers to the point of mild discomfort. This was eventually released with continued unruffling through the legs and out the feet as the final treatment movement.
In 1988 and 1991, Dora Kunz led TT Retreats in Aurora, Ontario Canada. She emphasized the importance of moving energy out through the feet and thus came the increased understanding among practitioners that energy moves through the field, entering and exiting.
Now, most practitioners do several grounding checks and supporting visualizations in a single treatment. Indeed many practitioners check and enhance the grounding in the very early phase of the treatment.
Visualized Grounding Exercise
This exercise (3) is useful for strengthening grounding, integrating the field, and increasing energy flow through the field. It is also one of the best approaches for treating patients with migraine headaches, brain aneurisms, or head trauma.
1. The exercise is done with two people. The receiving partner sits in a chair, with the feet on the ground and hands separated to enable energy to flow more easily through the field. (When legs are crossed, hands are clasped or arms are folded, energy does not flow as well as it might.)
2. The centered treating practitioner first gently touches the feet and checks the grounding through visualization. Grounding is then strengthened through visualization: roots are thickened and sent deeper and wider from the feet into the ground.
3. Once this is done, the practitioner then starts to check to see what is connected to those roots: are the ankles connected? Are the lower legs, knees, thighs, and hips on both sides connected? What is the grounding from the Root Chakra itself like? Is the digestive system connected to the roots? Is the spine connected all the way up into the neck? Is the chest connected? Are each of the arms connected down through the thighs, knees, lower legs and feet to the roots into the ground? Is the neck connected and is the head connected down through the body/field to the roots?
If at any point, the connection is impeded, the practitioner may do light unruffling at the site to support energy flow through and linkage to the rooted system.
4. Once the connection is clear through the entire body/field to the roots, the practitioner then invites more light to come in gently through the Crown Chakra and pour down through the field. With the understanding that energy goes where it is needed, observing how and where this movement of light proceeds can give more information about the functioning of the field. If at any point the light slows or pools, the practitioner must support flow though with gentle unruffling.
This visualization increases the flow of energy/light through the field and this enhanced flow continues even with the ending of the treatment.
Visualized Grounding Treatment for Migraine, Brain Aneurism or Head Trauma Problems
Therapeutic Touch practitioners are cautioned to work gently around the head because it is a delicate electrical system. Where there is significant pain in the head as with migraines and in survivors of brain aneurisms or where there is any suspected head trauma, my choice of treatment approach is the Visualized Grounding Treatment.
Two additional approaches to dealing with head problems are:
a) Mature, healthy trees are very effective in dealing with migraine headaches if the patient will stand or sit with his/her back against the tree and ask the tree for help. Trees work by strengthening the grounding and then increasing the flow of energy through the field. I recommend to people who suffer from migraines that at first sign of the headache, or even if it has fully developed, that they go out and put their backs against a big, healthy tree, and stay there until the pain is gone – usually about 7 minutes.
b) Survivors of brain aneurisms usually experience severe and prolonged headaches. Energetically, there is a lot of congested energy around the head. My choice is to have a large healthy plant near the patient’s head and at some point during the visualized treatment, I will do a light unruffling move from the patient’s head to the plant and ask the plant to draw the energy from the problem site and ground it in the soil in the pot. (This is even nicer if the person can be treated outdoors near a healthy bush.) The leaves and even the stems of the plant will move toward the headache site and gently vibrate while it is drawing the energy congestion away from the person’s head. I give the plant a chance to work for a while before I proceed to the connection with the head and then gently inviting more light to come in through the Crown Chakra and flow down through the field and out the roots.
Grounding plays an important role in the Therapeutic Touch treatment because it increases the flow of energy through the field, helps to integrate the field and calls the spirit to be fully present in the body. Checking the grounding and the connection through the field several times during the treatment gives information about the state of the field and its response to the treatment.
- Aaron Kipnis is on the Faculty of the Pacifica Graduate Institute of Depth Psychology in Santa Barbara, California. The talk referred to was given in the Integrated Medicine Program at St. Francis Hospital in Santa Barbara in early 2001.
- Animals. When I work with animals, I check the quality of grounding. If all four legs are not well grounded, this translates in almost all cases into either health problems and/or behavior issues. An animal who is not well grounded is not confident and is much more likely to move quickly into fearful instinctual reactive behavior – flight, aggression, freezing, fooling around, running to the group for support. Dogs that are afraid of thunder are not well grounded. Dogs that are afraid of people or other animals are not well grounded.
Poor grounding means the animal does not breathe well and has trouble taking in information and focusing. They tend to walk almost on their toes, tentatively on the Earth. Their bodies are often tense and over a long period of time this can have an impact on their immune systems. They do not feel their bodies well, and often do not know their physical boundaries.
Another article similar to this but directed toward people who work with animals is “Grounding” and that appears on my website under the Interspecies Communication section.
- For an earlier presentation of this exercise see Embodiment of Spirit: Learning Through Therapeutic Touch and Interspecies Communication, self-published, 2003, Pages 79 to 84.