Grounding and centering counterbalance the challenging effects of stress, heal your emotions, and focus your mind.
What does it mean to “get grounded and centered”?
Actually, you already know what it is, because it’s one of those phrases that manages to effectively describe itself.
You might say that being grounded and centered is a feeling: the feeling of being connected to the earth beneath you while also experiencing balance, clarity, and calm. Which is, of course, a desirable feeling. And it’s a feeling that supports your other spiritual work, which is why so many meditations and rituals often begin by instructing you to “take some deep breaths until you feel grounded and centered, or just to “take a moment to get grounded and centered.”
So how about this definition:
Grounding and centering is the process of harmonizing your mind, body, and emotions with each other and with the earth.
Here are 11 reliable ways to get grounded and centered.
1. Become Aware of Your Breath
The simplest way to ground and center your energy, and the one you can do no matter where you are and what you’re doing, is to notice what it feels like to breathe. Start by observing when you’re breathing in and when you’re breathing out. Also notice the space between the breaths. Get curious about where you feel the breath in your body. Also take note of how your breathing naturally deepens when you do this. You may also begin to become more aware of where you may be holding tension in your body, so you can in turn allow that tension to consciously dissolve.
While you’re doing this, if you observe that your mind is wandering, simply bring your awareness straight back to your breathing. Even just a few conscious breaths can have a big effect on the way your body and mind feel, so don’t feel like you have to set aside a longer period of time for this. But if you can, continue watching each breath until you experience a sense of serenity and calm.
2. Dance to One Heartfelt Song
If you have some time and space to yourself, select a tender, heartfelt song you love. I find that sad ballads and sweet folk songs work best for me for this exercise, but the important thing is that it’s a song tends to twist or tug at your heart. Light a candle or otherwise set the mood, then play the song as loudly as is comfortable for you and your neighbors. Then imagine that the song is drenching you in its energy: moving into your every cell. Let it wash over you. As you do this, allow your body to move however it chooses. This may involve stretching, walking, rolling around on the floor, or curling up in a ball – really any sort of movement that feels right to your body in the moment. Let the song into your heart.
3. Prepare a Meal or Bake Something
In the right mood and under certain conditions,* preparing a meal or baking something can be just the thing to help you ground and center. Preparing food is grounding because it brings you into the physical, sensual world, and reminds you of the miraculous nourishment of the earth. It’s centering because it directs your attention to the present moment by giving you concrete tasks that require your full attention. Not to mention, eating something delicious (alone or with others), particularly with mindfulness, helps you feel safe, nourished, comfortable, and anchored in the physical realm.
* What do I mean by “the right mood and certain conditions”? First, you have to actually feel like cooking, baking, or otherwise preparing food. Second, you have to have enough time to do so without feeling harried or rushed.
(Here are some ideas for Comfort Food Kitchen Witchery.)
4. Go for a Walk
It’s intriguing to me how consistently I underestimate the grounding, centering power of taking a short walk. Even when I’m not telling myself it’s more trouble than it’s worth, I still seem to forget just how quickly and thoroughly a walk outside shifts my energy, lifts my mood, and clears my mind. But whenever I ignore the unenthusiastic inner voice and get out the door anyway, taking a walk invariably makes my entire day better. And not just a little bit better – way better! Putting one foot in front of the other on the solid ground is calming, and it’s surprisingly exhilarating to do so while watching birds and hearing the sound of wind in the trees. There’s nothing like it for clearing the mind. It’s like a reboot for the soul.
Oh, and I almost forgot: be sure to leave your phone at home. Or at the very least, put it on airplane mode. Even if you promise yourself you won’t touch it, your phone’s still a distraction. Just the possibility of taking a photo or receiving a text greatly reduces the grounding and centering effects of going for a walk.
5. Do Yoga (Even a Little Bit)
Grounding and centering is sort of yoga’s whole deal. It’s a conscious practice of synchronizing mind, body, and emotions. At times, yoga is a literal, physical balancing act, which (amazingly) promotes inner balance simultaneously. Of course, an hour-long yoga class would be great if you have the time. But even three minutes of sun salutations, simple stretches, or balancing poses will definitely help you get grounded and centered as well.
6. Hold a Rock
Here’s an easy grounding and centering exercise to try. Pick up a rock – any rock: a gemstone you’ve purchased or a common rock you’ve found. (Although I must mention that black tourmaline is my favorite stone for this purpose.) Hold it in your hand. Experience the rock’s texture, temperature, and weight. Consider how ancient it is. Think about how long it will be here after you’re gone. See if you can feel its comforting solidity and silence transferring into your body and energy field. Breathe consciously and allow your thoughts and emotions to come into harmony with its stillness. Remember that just like this rock, your energy field is interwoven with the energy field of the planet.
If you’re curious about the metaphysical properties of crystals, check out this post.
7. Step Outside (Even for Just a Second)
When it comes to getting grounded and centered, much like taking a walk, simply stepping outside for a moment always seems like it’s going to be less powerful than it actually turns out to be. And even though taking a walk isn’t a huge time or energy commitment, stepping outside requires even less time and energy – next to none, in fact. All you have to do is open a door, step outside of it, and look around for a minute. Breathe the air. Notice the sounds and sights. Feel the breeze in your hair and on your skin. Look up at the sky and notice its color. Then, when you need to or you feel like it, step back inside.
8. Touch a Tree
A classic grounding and centering activity involves finding a tree and placing your hand on its trunk. Or your back. Or, ok, hugging it (if you’re that kind of hippie).
Before you do so, though, take a look at the tree. Breathe it in. Acknowledge it as a fellow earthling and sentient being. Inwardly and intuitively, check in with yourself: do you get the sense the tree is receptive to being touched? Does it seem to be ok with the idea? If so (and if you don’t see a bunch of ants crawling all over it), gently place your open palm on the trunk. (Or hug the tree, or sit or stand with your back to it.) Gaze up at the branches. Gaze down at the roots. Imagine how it might feel to be a tree, anchored in the earth and swaying in the sunlight. Simply be with the tree. Appreciate its beauty and aliveness. Sense its wisdom. When you feel ready, silently thank the tree and go on your way.
Here’s where you can learn about The Magical and Metaphysical Properties of Trees.
9. Listen to a Flower
I know it sounds woo-woo. I mean, it is woo-woo. By most standards, this whole website is woo-woo. I guess what I mean to say is that “listen to a flower” might sound a little too woo-woo to be a real thing you can actually do, let alone something that will help you get grounded and centered. But believe me: it is real, you can do it, and it will help you get grounded and centered…Or, if you don’t believe me yet, at least suspend disbelief long enough to give it a try. Here’s how:
Find a blooming plant that’s growing outdoors. It’s best if it’s bathed in sunlight at the time. Then, choose one blossom and gaze at it. Just notice it swaying in the breeze. Look at its color and texture. Also smell it, whether or not you expect it to have a scent. At some point, as you are appreciating the flower, it will begin to open its energy to you. It will send you a stream of healing and wisdom. You may feel it in your body, or you may sense it as a channel of guidance or information, or both. Just allow yourself to open up and receive.
(If you try it and you love it, check out my book, The Magic of Flowers. It’s all about my experience listening to blossoms and transcribing the information I received.)
If you want to maximize the amount of time you spend on earth feeling grounded and centered, daily meditation is the way to go. I highly recommend spending at least ten minutes meditating every day, but if you need to start with five or even three minutes, both options are vastly superior to zero minutes.
I have a number of free guided meditations on this site that you can try, like my Grounding Meditation, Aura Cleansing Meditation, Mindfulness Meditation, Loving Kindness Meditation, and Chakra Clearing Meditation.
Or, you could simply set a timer, close your eyes, and place your awareness on your breath. In other words, simply know when you’re breathing in and know when your breathing out. Then, whenever you notice your mind wandering, just bring it back.
(And if you think you’re bad at meditating, definitely watch this video.)
11. Free Write
Sometimes, sitting down with a pen and a notebook and writing nonstop is just the thing. Personally, I find this to be a particularly helpful grounding and centering activity after a night of intense dreams or excessive rumination. I also like to do it when something is definitely bothering me but I couldn’t tell you exactly why, or even maybe exactly what. Free writing helps me clear my mind, see what I’m thinking, and – if necessary – make a plan. It can be sort of like untangling a mess of yarn.
If you want to try free writing, find yourself a standard or college-ruled notebook and a pen. Then start writing and don’t stop until you’ve filled three pages. (This is the technique recommended by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way and I just can’t recommend it enough.) If you seem to stop having stuff to say, write whatever pops into your head, or seriously write whatever, like, “I don’t know what else to write, lalalalala hahaha good morning, ok, wow this is boring, maybe I need more coffee…” The point is absolutely not to write something good. The point is to get your inner monologue onto the page, in all its imperfect, self-involved, poorly expressed, disjointed glory.
Oh, and don’t try to be nice or good. If you feel angry or spiteful or petty, let it rip. Whatever you do, don’t hide yourself from yourself. Be uncensored. Feel all the feelings and think all the thoughts and get them in writing so you can let yourself in on what’s happening in that head of yours.
While it may seem like such an exercise would make you less centered and grounded rather than more, when you try it you will certainly discover that this is not the case. Clarity is calming. Free writing is a way of clearing clutter from your mind.
Well, what do you think? Are you going to try one of these grounding and centering activities? Or do you have any other ideas to share? Please chime in below!
And if you liked this post, you’ll love my new book, The Self-Love Superpower: The Magical Art of Approving of Yourself (No Matter What). Oh, and my 2022 planner!