Oak Tree

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:

Have thoughts you’d like to share?

Touch Practice is a sacred practice for me, and part of that is keeping confidences sacred. While a name and e-mail address are required to post a comment, feel free to use just your first name, or a pseudonym if you wish.  Your e-mail address will never be seen by or shared with anyone. It is used to prevent spam and inappropriate comments from appearing in the blog. I’d really like to hear from you!


  1. BabaSink

    Very cool. Something that helps me get grounded is quieting the mind and really being in present time with whoever I am with by eye contact and verbal communication if needed. What other things can you suggest to help ground?

    • Kevin Smith
      Kevin Smith04-16-2011

      BabaSink–thanks for commenting. First, it’s great that you have identified things for yourself that help you get grounded. It’s amazing how different we all are, and grounding is a highly personal thing. Eye contact, for example–for some, it’s helpful and a form of grounding. For people anywhere on the autism spectrum, it can be searing, invasive and painful. For some men from heterosexual practice, or for some men with a trauma history, extended eye contact can actually have a scattering or unsettling effect rather than increasing calm and focus. And, there are cultural differences–in some cultures, making eye contact with a person in a position of authority is a sign of disrespect, and in others, it’s an acknowledgement.

      So, grounding is a personal thing. That said: for me, the gold standard of grounding practices is something we do by ourselves, not with others, and that is a regular (daily if possible) practice of seated, breath-oriented meditation. Establishing a meditative practice which trains the mind to focus on the breath is, in my opinion, the single greatest thing a person can do to learn the technique of grounding themselves, which can then be extended to the practice of grounding when we are with others. You can meditate for a couple minutes a day or for endless hours, but for me personally there’s something magical that happens when you get up above the 20 minute mark. For those of you who want to try breath-based meditation (there are infinite varieties available) try for at least 20 minutes a day, and see if something remarkable doesn’t happen.

      You mention ‘quieting the mind,’ but often we need to use the body to do this. For example, breath based meditation does quiet the mind, but we start by working from the physical body (sitting still, breathing, holding a certain posture, etc.) There are loads of grounding practices that are body-based. Some people go for a run every morning. Some people do yoga after work three times a week. For many men, a regular time at the gym is a grounding practice–it pulls us back into the physical body, and in the process of doing so, it centers and focuses the mind.

      • Stephen

        Completely well said as always. I have had the honor of many sessions with Kevin and always walk away more centered, whole, full, and grounded. Feeling earth under my feet and conscious breathing seem to work for me when there is not a “Kevin” to be one with. Just imagine, walking barefoot in a meadow of wild flowers at dawn, breathing the mornings crisp fresh air while holding the hand of that special person that there mere presence gives you that centered full grounded feeling.

        • Kevin Smith
          Kevin Smith04-17-2011

          Hi Stephen, thanks for dropping by the blog and for your comment. I love the visual imagery in your post–connecting with Nature can be powerfully grounding, and in our modern urban life as we move from concrete to asphalt, from our apartments to our cars, we can easily lose sight of the daily miracles that happen in the Earth around us. How many people can even remember the last time they were barefoot in a meadow at dawn? Thanks for a great reminder to, literally, keep our feet in the Earth. Hugs to you!

  2. agbu Ali
    agbu Ali11-07-2015

    So educating

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