Feel like the entire world is about to implode? Are you aggravated over everything? Even the slightest thing? Or as I described it in “One Pagan’s Perspective. One Druid’s Approach”, you feel like a hand grenade just waiting for your pin to be pulled? Believe it or not, I know the feeling all too well. Go back a pair of decades in my life, and you will find someone with an explosive temper. And it didn’t take long for me to get that temper wound up to a high tempo. Thankfully, I had good friends that not only saw all of that…they didn’t abandon me over it. They stuck tight to me and offered help. One friend, opened up to me enough to teach me two techniques to deal with those moments – grounding and centering. In today’s blog post, I m going to my best to describe the two techniques. I can’t say that these two practices of mine will completely resolve things for you, but hopefully, it can provide a basis from which you can move forward and find your own techniques to help you take a step back from the brink of personal nuclear warfare.
The Behavioral Health Partners blog from the University of Rochester Medical Center from April 2018 lists a 5 step process for reducing anxiety:
- Acknowledge five things you see around you.
- Acknowledge four things you can touch around you.
- Acknowledge three things you can hear.
- Acknowledge two things you can smell.
- Acknowledge one thing you can taste.
I can understand the process quite easily. You utilize your senses to focus on your immediate surroundings. By doing so, you start to push back whatever has you on the edge to the back burner, and provides you a chance to look to smaller aspects of your environment that you might be taking for granted because of the issue. However, I use a different technique to ground myself.
I create sacred space around me. Once I have managed that, I work towards clearing my thoughts, and feeling that I am a tiny oak seed in the ground. Slowly, I grow, feeling new branches move from the start of my trunk. I feel leaves grow, brown, fall from my branches to the ground around me, and new buds begin to sprout with the Spring. I can feel myself growing taller, while my roots reach even deeper into the ground. Those roots keep me upright. Those roots are the essence of what I am becoming. After a few minutes, I check to see how I feel. Is my issue still prevalent in my thoughts? If so, I continue to grow my oak tree in my thoughts, with the roots reaching ever deeper. I can feel all my troubling thoughts being emptied into the ground around my roots – leaving my system, until I no longer feel those troubles. I spend a few more minutes in Sacred Space, still focusing on my tree and its overall health. Then I take three deep, cleansing breaths and close my Sacred Space.
I know that it sounds rather childish to some, but for me – this process can be done nearly anywhere. On the floor of my living room. Laying in my bed. Walking down the sidewalk in my neighborhood. And while I think I could do this while driving, I’ve not done so. I am not sure if I would be in in state with enough awareness to operate a motor vehicle properly.
The second technique is centering, which I consider to be a much more difficult thing to do. The wesbite Mindtools states that centering is:
Centering is an ancient visualization technique that is popular in Aikido – the Japanese defensive martial art of “spiritual harmony.” It teaches you to focus on the here and now, taking power away from outside concerns and negative thoughts, and helping you remain stable and grounded.“Centering: Maintaining Focus in Stressful Situations.”, Mindtools
I don’t practice Aikido, but I learned a lot of this technique from when I was in the Air Force, particularly in the Warfare Training Schools that I was sent to. For me, the technique is rather simple. When everything starts to feel like it is spinning out of control, I find a safe place to stop and take a few moments to inventory everything going on. I’ve adapted it to my daily Pagan practice, by starting with creating sacred space. I will go into my process of creating sacred space in Thursday’s blog.
Once I have sacred space created, I take a few moments to inventory everything that I am experiencing. From that inventory process, I determine what needs to be dealt with, and filter out everything that is superfluous to the moment. In essence, I am working towards trying to work with what is in the “here and now” and set the other things to the side – to be dealt with later if need be. Once I feel I have a strong enough of a mental grip on what I need to, I take three cleansing breaths (three…because I’m a Druid), and then bring down sacred space.
Making It All Work
Now, I know some folks are wondering how I make this all work to defuse my temper in certain situations. Well, sometimes, the situation warrants my temper. But that is far rarer then it was before. Grounding is meant to calm me down and temper my anger a bit. Centering allows me to determine if pursuing things really makes that much of a difference in the first place. Grounding tamps down the emotions, while Centering allows for personal analysis of the situation, if you will. For instance, I see memes throughout Facebook and Twitter that can get my blood boiling. However, taking a small amount of time to Ground and Center will lead me to a single question: is my input on the topic going to add to the topic or enhance some of the conversation by providing a different perspective or will it be nothing more than the angry back-and-forth noise we constantly see online? If it’s the first, I will pursue the topic from my perspective. If not, which is far more often the case, I move on without a comment. For me, this has made my interactions on Facebook and Twitter far lower in frequency. It has also allowed me to retain some of my own personal dignity by not stooping into the digital mud.
Like I said before, these are the techniques that I know of and use. There are other techniques and perspectives. The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD) has a video on what they term as the “Deep Peace of the Tree Meditation” that I have found to be useful when I have trouble grounding and centering. You will likely need to find some methodology of grounding and centering that works specifically for you. I do not – and will never – claim my techniques to be the quintessential methods for others.
Hopefully, some of this makes sense to those of you reading the blog. Even if all you get out of this is to start your own search for something that helps you to ground and center – you have started fresh down your own trail. Remember to be true to yourself. If a technique doesn’t work for you…that’s ok. Experiment, continue to search, tweak the technique into visualizations that have meaning to you. You’re unique. Sometimes it takes a bit more work than you thought. And that’s ok.