Grounding and Bodywork
What is grounding, anyway? Grounding seems to describe a kind of calm, centered quality–we know it when we see it (or lose it) but if we try to put our finger on it–well, what is it, exactly?
I like to think of grounding in spiritual practice or bodywork the same way we think of it in an electrical circuit. Grounding in an electrical circuit refers to a direct connection into earth (soil) through the “ground” wire. This is in addition to other wires (those connected to the prongs of a plug, for example) which carry voltage. The Earth completes the circuit, making a loop.
An ungrounded circuit can be dangerous, because there’s all sorts of voltage (potential) with nowhere to go. Touch such a circuit while standing in your bare feet, and YOU become the connection to ground, with very unpleasant consequences. Electricity seeks the Earth. When electricity builds up the clouds with no easy connection to the ground, at some point–POW! We have lightning. The urge for energy to reconnect with the Earth is powerful, and in some ways inevitable.
So it is with bodywork, and especially with Touch Practice. The physical connection with the ground (your feet, if we’re standing, or your butt, if we’re doing sitting practice) completes a circuit. There is no faster way of remembering who we are or regaining our sense of genuine self than grounding–connecting with the parts of the body in touch with the earth, as well as our breathing. The air in our lungs is part of the Earth too, after all, and one of our most important grounding points in bodywork.
Very often when I’m working in Touch Practice with someone, particularly if the “electricity” of erotic charge is present, I will remind them, “check in with your feet” or “breathe.” If, in the middle of an erotic charge, you can still feel the soles of your feet flat on the floor, or the pressure of your butt in the mat, and the rhythm of your breath in your lungs, you are much less likely to lose yourself in the electricity of that moment, and much more likely to retain your balance, even in high-voltage situations.
Grounded body practice is marked by the ability to connect deeply and intimately to the body of another person while simultaneously carrying a full and rich awareness of one’s own self.
Grounding benefits any type of physical connection people can make with each other, from simple clinical massage all the way up to and including sex. The goal is the powerful connection of two whole beings, not the disappearance or merger of one into another. In a sense, we come away from a grounded connection with another human being feeling twice as big as we are, feeling like we have been “added to.” We come away from ungrounded connections feeling only half as big, as though we lost something in the transaction. We did. And the piece we lost is ourselves.
Good grounding doesn’t reduce erotic energy to zero; rather, it reduces lightning strikes! It provides a steadier, more predictable flow of current between partners. In certain kinds of practices, it can be a way of directing erotic energy into a controlled, sustainable source of power, like house current, rather than dramatic, explosive and short-lived bursts of energy like lightning.
In all sorts of bodywork, including Touch Practice, tend carefully to your grounding. Otherwise, you can end up looking (or at least feeling) like this fine fellow here:
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