Blog: The Importance of Staying Grounded
By Judah Pollack
There are stories of Polynesian Wayfinders laying down in the bottom of their boats feeling for a long wave, their backs like a needle to the compass of the ocean. I’ve heard of Inuits in the Arctic finding their way in the midst of a blinding blizzard because they know which direction the snowdrifts form. Similar stories come out of the desert where the San people can orient through a sandstorm because they know the directions of the dunes.
These are stories of people deeply connected to the earth. This state can be rare for modern, digital humans. We hurtle through our landscapes at extraordinary speed. Most of us do not know where on the horizon the sun will set tonight, nor where the moon will rise. Some of us cannot even see the horizon. We rely on GPS to guide us through the streets of our own cities.
We find ourselves cut off from the signs and symbols of the swirling whirl of the earth and cosmos — the very cycles that gave birth to our internal rhythms. When is the last time your bare feet touched the bare earth? In short, we modern humans suffer from a profound lack of grounding, or connection to the earth and its cycles.
This state of being poses a challenge for both those who work with Depth Hypnosis and their clients. As someone who works with Depth Hypnosis, one of the most difficult things I have learned is not to use my own life energy when working with clients. With my own misdirected sense of compassion, I would offer up pieces of myself to clients believing I was helping, only to wind up drained and spun out at the end of sessions. But I wanted to help!
In Thupten Jinpa’s book, A Fearless Heart: How the Courage to Be Compassionate Can Transform Our Lives, he differentiates between empathy, compassion, and kindness. Empathy, he writes, is the awareness of another’s suffering. Compassion is the spark of desire in ourselves to help a person move away from suffering. Kindness is the action we take to help them. Upon reflection, it was not my misdirected sense of compassion that got me into trouble, but rather my misdirected sense of kindness. Offering up pieces of my own energy to clients was a kind action, but not helpful and not sustainable.
Grounding, or strengthening one’s connection to the earth, both reminds us of our human limits and gives us access to the support of the cosmos. Working while grounded is the baseline state. It’s like putting on your seatbelt before turning on the car. This can be difficult to remember.
Many of us are attracted to Depth Hypnosis because of our connections to more ethereal, unseen realities. We are tempted to take off into the “upper” reaches. But as many of us know, that is an excellent way to get lost. This is why the first step of grounding — reconnecting to the earth — is so important. The earth is how we tap into the cosmos. It supports us, protects us, guides us, and teaches us as we explore the vast geography of non-ordinary reality.
We all have our own ways of grounding. For example, calling on the power of shamanic guidance, connecting with rocks and trees, or meditating on the image of a deity or something that has special meaning to us are all methods of grounding. These are methods that help us reconnect to the energy permeating the universe. It is only by drawing from these sources of power that we can truly be grounded.
These can seem like basic practices, but establishing a practice of connecting to the earth is an important first step. We cannot deepen our practice until we are in a grounded state. From here, we can hold the space necessary for clients to develop their own grounding practices, which is an essential part of the healing work of Depth Hypnosis.
It is tempting for those who work with Depth Hypnosis to try to “ground” clients. Of course, it is not our job to ground them, but rather to create the conditions where they learn to ground themselves. Often our first piece of work is to hold space for our clients so they can feel enough support to start to do the work. When we stay connected to the earth, we are also reminded that it is not we who are doing the healing, but rather our clients and their connection to the earth that is doing the healing.
In the north of Queensland, Australia, there is an Aboriginal language called Guugu Yimithirr. This language does not have words for “left” or “right.” Instead, people refer to directions: north, south, east, and west. No matter where they are or where they’re standing, these directions orient them. We have lost this kind of connection to the ground and the horizon. But when engaging with the work of Depth Hypnosis, we are reminded of the importance of reconnecting to the earth.