Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development,
invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears. ―Edgar Allan Poe
If you are a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), sometimes the world can feel too much. Although you are aware of the wonderful gifts of sensitivity – the capacity to empathise, a great love for nature and beauty and the ability to access greater nuances of meaning – you also have the sense that your sensitivity is tricky, shape-shifting.
Being so open can leave you feeling overwhelmed, almost drowning in a sea of sensations. Sometimes, it feels as if there is no way to manage this excess build-up of energy except by avoiding stressful situations altogether.
Or it could be that you let yourself enter these situations but are not able to let go of the tension that ultimately builds up. This ends up making you feel ambivalent about your sensitivity.
It almost feels like this capacity to feel, to be so open is turning against you.
As an HSP, I have had these experiences time and again. I have felt as if I had no viable way of coping with feelings of overwhelm. I have also tried to escape into my mind, pulling away from my body and getting more and more disconnected from it.
It is only recently that I have found a way to help me manage the energy that had me spinning around like a top. I am learning that it is possible to not only let go of my nervous energy, but also to foster a deeper connection with my body.
That way is through the process of grounding.
What is Grounding Exactly?!
Grounding is a term that we hear often, but don’t quite understand. It feels like an esoteric concept that’s just beyond our reach. But the reality is that it’s rooted in the very nature of our bodies and the way it connects with the earth.
In her wonderful book Chakras, somatic therapist Anodea Judith talks about how scientific measurements have shown that when we are standing on the ground, our bodies are electrically grounded as well.
She discusses the work of the late scientist Itzhak Bentov who showed us that the micro-motion of the body (consisting of the vibration of the heart, cells and bodily fluids) vibrates at a frequency of 6.8 to 7.5 cycles per second.
We also know that there is an electrostatic field surrounding the earth that has a resonant frequency of around 7.5 cycles per second. What this means is that the body’s natural frequency resonates with that of the earth’s ionosphere.
When we connect with the earth, the downward current of the body can help us release excessive energy. Much as how a small child buries his head in his mother’s shoulders on hearing a loud noise, grounding helps us release stressful vibrations into the larger body of the earth.
This is invaluable for HSPs looking for ways to manage overwhelm.
Is Grounding Just About Releasing Excessive Energy?
The short answer is no. In her classic Eastern Body, Western Mind, Anodea Judith says: “ Being grounded gives us a source of strength through connection to our body and environment. Physically, this happens through the legs and feet, through which excitement is passed up into the body and excess is discharged downwards into the ground.”
So, in addition to letting go of the excess energy, grounding involves charging and bringing in aliveness into the body. Many of us walk almost mechanically and are cut off from the feelings in our legs and feet. This is merely empty contact.
Grounding helps us connect with our body and heal the mind-body split. We can be present in the here and now with our feet planted firmly on the ground, instead of floating way up into our heads.
What Are Some Grounding Exercises That Can Help Us?
Any physical exercise such as dancing, walking or swimming helps release stuck energy. Yoga is especially helpful because it not only aids the subtle movement of energy, it also helps to relax the body.
To discharge energy, you can simply lie down on your back and kick your feet in the air (like a baby). Other grounding exercises that also bring in aliveness include jumping up and down on a soft surface and stamping the feet.
For HSPs, these grounding exercises are extremely helpful ways of managing feelings of over-stimulation and stress. That, in turn, can help us feel more in charge of our sensitivity and how it shows up in our lives. Instead of running away from our bodies, our task is to affirm the physical and gain strength from it.