Advice from the Witch: Simple Grounding Exercises to Relieve Stress, Find Focus, and Stay Balanced
In Mirror Witch, the main character, Jo, does a lot of grounding—feeding energy into her building, the Sanctum, and into the shields she’s created for it, which extend far down into the earth.
While Jo’s grounding is primarily for her protection in the perilous supernatural world she inhabits, she also grounds because it’s an important skill for balance and self-care. You can do that, too—no magical powers required.
In the real world, grounding is important for many reasons. It can help alleviate stress and mentally prepare you for your next move, and in times of heightened spiritual awareness, grounding can help you focus and see more clearly. Any time I read tarot, I ground first. Any time I'm feeling stressed, I will ground. Any time I'm feeling scattered, angry, or even bored, I ground. I probably ground more than most people simply because I'm naturally flighty—it's a problem for air signs. (I’m an Aquarius.)
These foundational grounding exercises are going to sound like they take a lot of time. They don’t—but they do need a bit of explanation. Actually doing them is only a matter of minutes, and setting aside five or even three minutes a day will be enough. (I’ve also included some “quick fixes” at the end for immediate help.) These exercises give you a solid foundation to help you learn how to ground and what it feels like to do it. Once you have done one of these exercises a few times, you'll find that you can do it anywhere without too much thought; it will become habit.
Before we get into the specific exercises, remember that breathing is important when grounding, so take deep, cleansing breaths throughout each exercise. When I first started doing this, I would start with breathing in for a count of four, holding the breath for a count of four, and then releasing the breath for a count of four. Breathing in a relaxed and slow manner can help immensely during grounding, so always start and finish with cleansing breaths.
This is my favorite, so it’s the one I use the most, especially when working with a group of people. The variations you can do with trees are endless.
To begin, sit comfortably. If you can sit at the base of a tree for extra visualization support, go for it. Trees are grounded naturally by their roots, and you want to emulate this, so sitting next to a tree will help if you find yourself dealing with a mental block. Begin taking measured, cleansing breaths.
Once you’re beginning to relax, imagine a cord of white light flowing down your spine and into the earth. As this cord of light hits the ground, it will continue to go into the ground much like the roots of a tree. Keep breathing.
Note: When I visualize the cord flowing down my spine, it is a white light, but it almost always turns into the brown of tree roots when it is underground. Work with whatever colors flow most easily for you.
If I'm feeling an excess of energy or emotions, I visualize that energy or emotion leaving me, moving it down the cord and through these roots to ground it into the earth. You’ll leave it there when you’re done grounding.
Conversely, If I'm feeling worn-down, tired, sick, or even just meh, I visualize my roots burrowing all the way down to the molten core of the earth, and I will bring that fiery energy up through my roots and into my body. This is where the tree visualization changes a bit: when pulling energy up from the earth into yourself, try to visualize the energy flowing up through your body, bit by bit, and eventually up to and through the top of your head. As the energy flows out from your head, imagine it as your personal tree's branches and leaves.
(You also can visualize yourself as a conduit for a geyser of energy, but if you go that route, make sure that you ground any excess energy that may come up.)
This exercise can be as simple as you want it to be. While I encourage you to try it sitting down, especially for your first few times, you can also do it standing up by visualizing the roots coming out of your feet. For my nerdy friends who are familiar with Tolkien, I like to think of myself as an Ent here—when my feet are on the ground, the roots spring from my soles and burrow deep into the earth, keeping me grounded at all times. This variation can be tiring to keep up for long, but it is useful for when you need to ground yourself without having to stop what you’re doing: waiting in a long line, dealing with someone invading your personal space, sharing close quarters with loud people, etc.
Foot-Chakra Energy Dump
For those unfamiliar with the term, chakras are energy points in your body that correspond with and provide focus for the way energy moves through you. I work with chakras quite a bit, and I tend to think of the chakras in the feet as the grounding chakras—or “flushing” chakras—because I use them often to ground excess or negative energy.
When dealing with energy overload, headaches, nausea, anxiety, etc., using your feet chakras to dump this energy into the ground can be important to maintain emotional stability. Being able to take whatever wave of energy hits you and flow it out through your feet is an invaluable skill to have—and you can do this one whether you’re in contact with the ground or not.
For instance, I often deal with road rage. Nothing pisses me off more than terrible drivers, and bad experiences on the interstate can hit me with overwhelming, fiery energy that makes me furious enough to cuss them out. Dumping that rage—letting it flow through me, down to and out of my feet—helps me ground myself even in a moving vehicle, which keeps me sane. It doesn’t stop people from driving badly, but it does stop me from wanting to wreak havoc on them for doing it.
As before, begin with measured, cleansing breaths. Visualize the negative or excess energy that fills you, thinking of your body like a container for it—like a tub of water. Again, use whatever color is suitable to the energy; red or orange are natural ones for anger, while green or blue might be good for excessive excitement brought on by holidays or gatherings. Then, imagine pulling the drain stopper at the bottom of your “tub,” which would be in your feet, and visualize all that negative energy draining out through your feet. Remember, even if you’re moving, you’re sending it into the ground and out of your body.
And don’t forget to breathe!
I enjoy going outside on windy days and letting the wind blow through me, clearing out anything that needs to go. The wind itself helps create the visualization, imagining it blowing not just against you but through you and clearing away everything you don’t need or that is keeping you from fulfilling your highest purpose.
However, you don’t have to have an actual windy day to envision a wind tunnel clearing out your energy cobwebs.
You can do this one sitting or standing, depending on your comfort level. As always, start with measured, deep breathing. Then visualize wind blowing from above, down through your crown (head) chakra. As the wind blows through your body and down through your feet, imagine it clearing away the mental and emotional “debris” you no longer need—excess energy, anxiety, guilt, anger, bad mood, etc.—that is clogging your body.
Note: I find this exercise very grounding, but as I mentioned before, I'm an air sign, so this one may not work for everyone.
Cleansing Rain/Shower Visualization
This one is very similar to the wind-tunnel exercise above, but it has quite a few variations.
The basic visual is that of water flowing through you and clearing out anything you no longer wish to carry—whatever needs to be washed away.
As with the wind tunnel, this can be from top to bottom: imagine the water flowing down from your head and through your body, taking away everything you need to flush it through the bottoms of your feet. For obvious reasons, this is a good one to do while standing in a shower or out in the rain.
However, there is a horizontal variant that I like: I find the visual that works best for me with this exercise is that of lying down in a stream. When I imagine myself lying down in a stream, surrounded by the stream’s rocks and pebbles, the flow is easier, and it feels more grounding. If the vertical imagery doesn’t work for you, try this one.
A Few Quick Fixes
When I spend a day reading tarot for several people or at a public ritual where a lot of energy is raised, it can be seriously fun to experience that energy directly and let it take you on the ride. However, you don't want to hang on to excess energy for long, much for the same reasons you don't want drink too much caffeine. Too much of anything isn’t good for an extended period of time.
So, when doing something intensely spiritual and/or highly social that will have you zipping along on an energy high, there are some simple things you can do to ground yourself along the way:
Eat something salty. Salt is very grounding. (And delicious.)
Eat something, period. Food helps keep you grounded, which is part of why most pagan rituals have a “cakes and ale” component. Protein, especially, is your friend.
Get your body moving in simple ways: stomp your feet, go for a walk, dance. Walking barefoot in the dirt works wonders for me.
Hug a tree or stand/sit beneath one for a few minutes. Trees have the flow of pulling up from the earth and down from the sky down to a fine art, and you can borrow that just by being near them.
Get your hands dirty. Dig them in the soil, “touch grass,” work in a garden if you have the time—all of these are naturally grounding activities. We can visualize all we want, but nature is the best guidebook and an excellent source of help.
Along that same vein, find a rock and hold it, sit on it, balance it on your head, etc. Rocks are the ground, and they can help with grounding just by being their rocky selves, whether pebbles or boulders.
Finally, take a bath with Epsom salts. It's less of a "quick" fix, but it's certainly a good, relaxing way to ground after a long day!
There are so many ways to go about grounding, but these are all some broad strokes for how to begin. I hope these techniques help you find the best method for grounding yourself!
If you’re new to the site and/or Phoebe Walker's books, hail and welcome—we hope
you'll have a look around! If you would like to read the first chapter of Mirror Witch,
the first book in our urban-fantasy series featuring witch Jo Murphy,
for the low, low price of absolutely FREE, click here!