“Get yourself grounded and you can navigate even the stormiest roads in peace.” Steve Goodier
Grounding.That elusive feeling of being centered and in balance, no matter what whirlwind of activity or chaos is swirling around you. How do you cultivate groundedness in a world that seems be constantly picking up pace? Basically grounding is all about reconnecting with the body, the breath and slowing the mind down so we can process things (emotionally and intellectually) at a rate that makes sense to us. Being grounded is going to allow you to be a much more effective holistic minimalist as it’s near impossible to get to a place of happiness, clarity and simplicity (the overarching goals of minimalist living, among others) if you feel like things are spinning out of control around, or inside of you. Here are a few tried and tested techniques for getting grounded so you can keep on track cutting out clutter on all levels of your life!
36.1 Get Moving!
“Consciousness is only possible through change; change is only possible through movement.” Aldous Huxley
One of the most obvious ways of coming back to our bodies is movement. What better way to remind yourself that you’re in a body than to use it? Incorporating regular movement into your daily life can be a great first step to living a more grounded life. Plus, integrating movement into your life actually increases productivity, if that’s something you’re worried about. You can get more done in less time when you give yourself time to move and focus on other things in between all-out work sessions.
So, you have at least 11 hours of computer work ahead of you, you’re behind schedule and planning on cramming it all in to one day? Okay, Pace yourself! You may have developed a tolerance or strategies for long hours, but ignoring the needs of your body won’t do anyone any good. A walking, jumping, dancing, running break will not only feel good, it will increase your ability to focus and efficiently produce whatever masterpiece you are working on! Here is some purely mechanical reasoning for you.
Oxygenation is a key factor in optimal brain functioning. Staring at a computer, or anything else, without interruption is a really good way to wreck your eyesight. Sitting in one position for long periods is a primary cause of back, shoulder, neck and joint problems. If you’re one for 10 year plans, you might want to plan in daily movement. Otherwise you are looking at a much less spritely version of yourself down the road. And we’re not talking about sporadic, intensive movement every now and then when you just can’t take it anymore!
It’s great to have a training routine, to go for jogs every couple days or take dance classes once a week. Yes! Do whatever you can to move more! But don’t consider those chunks of activity as a way to write off moving for the rest of the week! In a society where comfort is our main deity, it might be hard to replace the easiest ways of doing things with the most all-around beneficial ways. The physical results are well worth it though. Walk or bike to your destination whenever possible. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Find fun ways of integrating movement into your work days!
36.2 Head for the Hills!
Secondly, try getting out of urban environments! If you already live in the woods, congratulations! You probably are doing okay on this front. If not, you may need to figure out some way of accessing wild, or at least less concrete-covered, spaces. Even if you don’t think you’re affected by the noise, pollution and constant overstimulation of the city or suburb in which you live, you will notice a difference when you step out of it.
If your mind refuses to acknowledge the impact, your body will still breathe easier. Many studies exist about the positive impact of trees, the color green and fresh air on mental, physical and emotional health. If you feel destabilized by your own company, silence or wide open spaces, find someone to go on a hike with, or go to a music festival in a remote area.
Being immersed in nature doesn’t necessarily have to mean exiling yourself from society! Find what works for you and let yourself roam free. If you live in a city you might even simply work in a visit to the closest big park or green space as a way of getting more nature-time. Plus, if you’re a runner or jogger, running on soil has much less negative impact on the knees than running on concrete! Try it out! Sleeping on the earth (camping or “roughing it”) is also a fast-track to getting grounded.
36.3 Unplug On the Regular
“it was when I stopped searching for home within others and lifted the foundations of home within myself I found there were no roots more intimate than those between a mind and body that have decided to be whole.” Rupi Kaur
It may sound radical but…what about unplugging for a day? Per week, per month…whatever you can work into your life realistically while still pushing the envelope. Give yourself some time and space to be creative. It’s only when you get rid of your cell phone (laptop, tablet, etc.) that you’ll realize how you may be filling all your free time with it. Every moment of rest becomes an opportunity to surf or text someone you haven’t spoken to in however long. Disconnecting for a day every now and then can really do a world of good if you are looking to be more grounded.
36.4 Hydrotherapy…Also Known As, Taking a Bath!
Okay, let’s face is. Not everyone has the benefit of being able to hop on a bike, bus or in a car and get to some awesome wilderness or turn off all their communication devices and skip work whenever they’re feeling ungrounded! One of the easiest, quickest ways to reset that most people have access to it taking a bath.
Studies have shown that baths can improve heart health, improving circulation, general cardiac function and lowering blood pressure. Being immersed in water past your chest but with your head above the water can have positive effects on lung capacity and oxygen intake. Being submerged in water (for anyone who doesn’t have a fear of submergence, obviously) has been shown to have positive effects on the nervous system, which means reduced amount of stress and anxiety. It also helps reduce pain and inflammation. It’s also been shown that hot baths, or hot tub therapy, may reduce blood sugar levels. All these factors together definitely imply baths are a great, quick way to get grounded in a pinch! Even better if you can make the environment as relaxing as possible (you know, candles, low light, the whole deal) so that our nervous system can really get a break and your body and mind can slow down.
If you don’t have access to a bath, hot or cold showers or going for a swim can have similar effects, differing depending on the temperature of the water. Cold water actually has as many benefits as hot, though it’s more of a “shock it out of your system” rather than a “relaxing in to letting go” kind of feeling.
36.5 You May Be Tired of Hearing it, But Breathe…
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” Thich Nhat Hanh
Anybody you ask for advice on dealing with any kind of challenge in life will eventually, or immediately, tell you about the importance of breathing, and breathing deeply. As repetitive or facil as it may sound at times, it does, in fact, help with most things. Not only because it focuses your attention on something other than the crisis at hand, but because, as mentioned earlier in this piece, oxygenation is one of the key factors in optimizing brain function, which in turn allows you to not get carried away and wound up in stressful thought cycles. But there’s more to it.
More and more research is being done to prove things about controlled breathing that ancient cultures have been proning for centuries in practices like meditation, tai chi and yoga. One such study, cited in an article published in Forbes magazine, showed that controlling breathing by counting breaths impacts “neuronal oscillations throughout the brain,” specifically in regions of the brain related to emotion. The study also showed brain activity (monitored by EEG) in regions related to emotion, memory and awareness taking on more organized patterns during controlled breathing as compared to what’s normally experienced during a resting state.
Another study found that controlled breathing triggers a parasympathetic nervous system response, and may also improve immune system resiliency as a “downstream health benefit.” The researchers also found improvements in energy metabolism and more efficient insulin secretion, which results in better blood sugar management.
All that to say, deep breathing practices can definitely help you get grounded. Breathing is also one of those things you can just do wherever you are without any need for special equipment! It’s just a matter of getting yourself to do it and remembering in times of ungroundedness that this is your best route back to feeling balanced. If that’s something you struggle with you may want to make reminder notes for yourself say in your agenda or on your laptop and schedule them to pop up in periods when you know you’re going to be dealing with high stress situations. Or ask a friend or partner to remind you to reconnect to your breathing practice in moments when you seem ungrounded (somebody who loves you enough not to be pissed off it you react badly to this suggestion for the first five minutes or so!). There are also plenty of apps that you can use to help you practice controlled breathing!
36.6 A Couple Other Pointers
If you feel ungrounded on a really regular basis you may want to see if there are some systemic things in your life you should be changing. For example you may simply be drinking too much coffee or other stimulants, or not eating regularly or not giving your body the types of food it needs to be healthy and grounded. You may be seriously lacking regular exercise or simply have taken on way too much and need to learn how to delegate. The point is any kind of recurring issue is always related to choices in our everyday life. If you can pinpoint what it is that’s at the root of your ungroundedness you can shift your habits and patterns to set yourself up for a well-balanced lifestyle. Preventive measures can often eliminate the problem all together! And minimalism is all about “simplify, simplify, simplify!”
36.7 Action Point Summary – Here’s What You Need to Do Now!
“We can be sure that the greatest hope for maintaining equilibrium in the face of any situation rests within ourselves.” Francis J. Braceland
There are certainly plenty more techniques out there for helping you get grounded but these are some that have stood the test of time (and have multiple secondary health benefits to boot!). The key is really getting good at identifying as soon as you start feeling ungrounded so that you can put these things into practice asap (instead of once you’re on the verge of a meltdown!). The good news is, all of these tips are part of a balanced holistic minimalist lifestyle anyway!