As a trauma therapist, it is important to ensure my clients have an understanding of grounding, mindfulness and meditation. The purpose of these three things is not to clear our heads of our thoughts, it is to help center and anchor us into the present. I describe these as like an anchor to a boat. The storm is going to come, regardless, so dropping anchor (grounding, mindfulness), keeps us grounded. even in the middle of the storm. Thoughts will be there; these processes are designed to help us feel more control over our experiences and less overwhelmed and dysregulated. Check out the resources below for more information.
What is mindfulness?
According to Dictionary.com mindfulness is : a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
8 Facts About Mindfulness from Mindful.org: (What is Mindfulness? - Mindful)
1. Mindfulness is not obscure or exotic. It’s familiar to us because it’s what we already do, how we already are. It takes many shapes and goes by many names.
2. Mindfulness is not a special added thing we do. We already have the capacity to be present, and it doesn’t require us to change who we are. But we can cultivate these innate qualities with simple practices that are scientifically demonstrated to benefit ourselves, our loved ones, our friends and neighbors, the people we work with, and the institutions and organizations we take part in
3. You don’t need to change. Solutions that ask us to change who we are or become something we’re not have failed us over and over again. Mindfulness recognizes and cultivates the best of who we are as human beings.
4. Mindfulness has the potential to become a transformative social phenomenon. Here’s why:
5. Anyone can do it. Mindfulness practice cultivates universal human qualities and does not require anyone to change their beliefs. Everyone can benefit and it’s easy to learn.
6. It’s a way of living. Mindfulness is more than just a practice. It brings awareness and caring into everything we do—and it cuts down needless stress. Even a little makes our lives better.
7. It’s evidence-based. We don’t have to take mindfulness on faith. Both science and experience demonstrate its positive benefits for our health, happiness, work, and relationships.
8. It sparks innovation. As we deal with our world’s increasing complexity and uncertainty, mindfulness can lead us to effective, resilient, low-cost responses to seemingly intransigent problems.
What is Grounding?
According to University of New Hampshire (What Is Grounding | Psychological & Counseling Services (unh.edu)) “Grounding is a self-soothing skill to use when you are having a bad day or dealing with a lot of stress, overwhelming feelings, and/or intense anxiety. Grounding is a technique that helps keep you in the present and helps reorient you to the here-and-now and to reality. It can also serve as a distraction from the difficulties you are dealing with.”
Examples of Grounding Exercises”
- 5 Senses-
o 5 things you can see,
o 4 things you can touch,
o 3 things you can hear,
o 2 things you can smell and
o 1 thing you can taste
- Guided Meditation
- Focus on your breathe
Grounding techniques are useful because they help you distance yourself from an emotional experience.
Grounding techniques are strategies that can reconnect you with the present and may help you overcome anxious feelings, unwanted thoughts or memories, flashbacks, distressing emotions, or dissociation.
What is Meditation?
According to Psychology Today (Meditation | Psychology Today) meditation is a “mental exercise that trains attention and awareness. Its purpose is often to curb reactivity to one's negative thoughts and feelings, which, though they may be disturbing and upsetting and hijack attention from moment to moment, are invariably fleeting.”
(Meditation | Psychology Today) Meditation has been shown to increase focus, reduce stress, and promote calmness. It can also help people recognize and accept negative emotions—especially when it is done in combination with mindfulness practices that keep people grounded in experiencing the present.
It’s common for a person’s thoughts to wander during meditation, especially when they are first starting out. Trying to stop thinking completely is futile and often serves to intensify unwanted thoughts. Instead, the key is to notice when the mind wanders and bring one’s attention gently back to the meditation practice.