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Grounding, Part 1: A Shamanic Perspective

When we encounter someone who is down to earth, rooted in reality, and emotionally balanced, we often refer to this person as “grounded.” It’s common to speak of wanting to “get grounded” in our lives (and not the teenager’s way of getting grounded after breaking household rules!). There are many practices that help with grounding, from walking barefoot on grass, to breathing techniques, to the use of special energetically charged mats, to name just a few.


From a shamanic perspective, grounding is a foundational practice that orients us back to mother earth. It is simply tuning into the actual ground under our feet with our five senses and a receptive awareness. When we ground, we become sensitive to the earth’s energy, or heartbeat, and conscious of the many layers of the earth beneath us. We imagine roots from our feet physically connecting us to earth energy, sending out luminescent filaments that draw in vital forces. This opens an energetic circuit to the earth, and we can then breathe in these forces, circulating them through our body and allowing them to settle in our heart. We remember our ancient connection to and dependence upon the earth, and we pause to honor this sacred bond.

We each have our own experience of earth energy that may change depending on the land, the weather, or our mood. Many experience earth energy as slow and deep, moving at a tempo that is far gentler than how quickly our lives move above the surface. Tectonic plates move at the rate of about 0.6 inches per year, the same rate at which human toenails grow! There is something deeply comforting about the apparent solidity of massive rock, and the darkness and quiet of this underground layer. It’s no accident that many shamanic journeys begin by imagining climbing down the roots of a tree into an alternate subterranean world, a protected space where nothing that plays out on the surface of the earth can interrupt. But it’s also important to remember that earth energy is not always “grounding” and to tune in to what IS, not what we want there to be. I was recently at Esalen, a retreat center along the northern coast of California, that perches on a strip of land between cliffs above the ocean on one side and mountains on the other. Esalen is wild and beautiful, and I usually find it a place of inspiration and healing, but on this occasion I experienced its earth energy as changeability, volatility, and precariousness. This was neither good nor bad, just one of the truths of the land coming out to be recognized. As it turned out, experiencing the land in this way helped me understand that at that moment in my life, I needed more stability.

When we ground ourselves in earth energy, often we’re just thinking about the topmost layer – the dirt, maybe some tree roots, plants, and surface rocks. When you connect in with the earth, remember that it is not just the layer of dirt underneath you, but all of the elements: the water element of the underground waterways; the air element in the gases and vapors that form in fissures of rock; the fire element of volcanoes and the earth’s molten core; and then a fifth element that the Tibetans label “space,” which is pure consciousness itself. It is possible to connect with the earth’s consciousness, its memory, its experience. From a shamanic perspective, everything in the natural world is sentient. See if a particular natural feature calls to you. Let’s say you find yourself drawn to an underground spring in your mind. As you breathe deeply, imagine all the features of this spring. What does it smell like? What is the temperature of the water? What creatures live in this spring? How did it come into being? Then ask the spring permission to merge your consciousness with it. Become that feature in your imagination, experience its movement, flow with its water, and see what it offers to teach you. This can be a profound experience.


Grounding is simply tuning into the earth with an open heart and curiosity. This may be done at any time of day and anywhere in the world, even on the 100th floor of a skyscraper. For a guided experience, check out my audio “Tree of Life” for an 8-minute grounding journey experience. Happy Rooting!

Tree of Life Audio
Download ZIP • 8.28MB

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