Grounding, Centering, And Orienting
Most of our anxiety and stress stem from feelings of disconnection between our bodies and our minds. Today, more than ever, it is easy for us to get lost in our thoughts. It is easy for us to get off track, pondering the possibilities of what has yet to come. It is common for us to analyze situations and create outcomes to events that have not yet occurred. The common ailments of anxiety and stress are caused by over-thinking, confusion, anger, misunderstanding, and fear.
In the practice of yoga, there is a simple, three-step formula used to manage stress. This formula is called grounding, centering, and orienting.
Grounding is the redistribution of energy from your mind back down into your body. Simply put, it’s getting out of your head. Coming back down to Earth. Channeling all of your energy away from your thoughts and back into your physical body. This involves taking your intentions out of the ethereal realm and bringing them down to earth. Touching down. Taking your energy from the mental space and channeling it into the physical, through the means of physical activity. Grounding has a calming effect and is also very empowering.
A simple grounding exercise is to plant your bare feet on the ground and notice the sensation of the earth underneath you. You can connect to the ground in many ways. This can be done standing, sitting, walking, or laying down.
Centering is the ability to still the chatter in your mind. This can be achieved by drawing your focus inward and losing attachment to the people or circumstances that surround you. This requires an exercise of self-discipline and focus. Focusing your awareness only to your own body, strengths, and abilities. Acknowledging that the people and events outside of you are not you, nor your concern. Centering calls for you to intentionally and completely quiet the mind. This requires trust and understanding in the fact that the answers you are seeking cannot be found outside of you. To center, one must find peace by going inward and relying only on one’s own inner wisdom or knowing. This process will allow you to remain calm and relaxed in the most stressful of situations.
An exercise in centering might involve closing your eyes and letting go of the opinions of others, or attachment to the results of a situation. Quieting the mind and taking deep yogic breaths. Equal breaths in and out, completely filling and emptying your belly and your lungs.
Orienting is becoming more aware of your surroundings. Being able to distinguish what is real and what is not. Taking inventory and doing a quick survey of your position in any given situation. Looking at where other people, events, and physical objects are in comparison to you and yours. Using discernment to recognize the difference between what has manifested inside of your head and what has manifested into the physical world. This involves critical thinking. It involves removing yourself emotionally from a situation and looking at things in a matter-of-fact sort of way.
Orienting exercises require you to press pause and put on your thinking cap. Questioning what, when, where, why, and how. Removing yourself from your current situation and looking at it objectively. Compartmentalize your emotions and looking at things for what they really are.
The practice of grounding, centering, and orienting has been used by yogis for thousands of years. This practice will help you to remain calm in tense situations and it will also help you to develop mindfulness in your day-to-day life. This is an organic, long term solution to the ailments of anxiety, stress, and fear. There is no prescription needed and you don't need a note from your doctor to partake in this functional calming exercise. This practice has a global history of success, dating back over 5,000 years.
For a more detailed description of this three-step formula, I suggest heading to your local yoga studio or following up with your nearest health and fitness professional.