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What is Grounding, Charge and Discharge ?
The definition of ‘Grounding’ in Body Psychotherapy terms involves getting into the present moment and creating a flow of energy in the body. Full Body Grounding can be defined as a combination of spiritual grounding, ego grounding and body grounding. There are various grounding methods, some which are active and passive.
Streaming can be defined as when the energy system is moving up and down freely, flowing openly vertically and horizontally, similar to the principle of the Double Helix Spiral. In our work we teach a person about self respect and how to honour the self.
The inner reality of a person must be contacted and felt for one to be able to respect it. True respect looks beneath the surface or the appearance to one’s true values and convictions.
This is counter to our culture which emphasises the narcissistic self presentation, image, where power eclipses dignity, and which promotes motives of expediency and self-gain. There is a correlation between one’s body posture and energetic disposition, and one’s signal to the world about one’s own self respect.
At the Energetics Institute, we teach a range of bioenergetics exercises which work through the body to activate the reptilian or lower brain, which in turn stimulates the limbic and front rational brain complexes, to promote a felt sense of aliveness and vitality. We complement these with eastern exercises from such practices as QI-Gong and Tai Chi.
This in turn affects one’s perception of reality in a positive way. The postures and exercises also promote a body posture that creates positive feedback to the brain that creates positive feelings about the self.
This aspect of self relates to how one’s bodily posture affects one’s reality. We notice how clients coming into therapy often have a collapsed posture of body, with slumped shoulders, or rounded shoulders projecting forward to protect the heart.
Other clients have their heads pointing down in submission, whilst some projected forward in aggression, whilst others have a rigid, boardlike straightness that is a projection of control that is not natural. The straightness of a healthy body results from a strong flow of excitation or energy or feeling along the backbone, similar to what the eastern philosophy of Kundalini yoga proposes.
THE STATE OF CHARGE
There is a correlation between this charged and alive state, and the attribute we called “charisma” or being charismatic, as such people affect others with their open body posture, their energy, and aliveness in a positive moving way.
This charged state naturally keeps the head high and allows a healthy natural sense of pride to exist which is not egoic or contrived, it is the embodied state of unity and wholeness. Body Psychotherapy works with clients to free a client from the chronic bodily held muscular tensions that impede this flow of feelings and prevent the natural posture from holding its position.
Many of these chronic tensions are actual childhood and adult trauma states and unresolved conflicts stemming from the clients past. We teach a daily bioenergetics exercise programme that can require as little as 12 minutes, or up to 1 hour if one can afford themselves such an amount of time.
THE TYPES OF GROUNDING
The breathing out is done through the mouth to avoid hyperventilation and also keeps the person in his body. There are two types of grounding. The first type is Primary grounding which consists of 7 stages:
These 7 types also map the stages of development of the child. Primary grounding is done mostly with the client on his back, which represents the child energy. The next phase executed is called Secondary grounding, and is done in the vertical standing position, which represents the adult energy.
Most of the primary grounding exercises involve vigorous movement of hands and arms, deep breathing through the nose and mouth, moving the body up and down, breathing in on upward movement, and out on downward movement, while pushing hands toward the earth.
Primary grounding strongly focuses on the root/base chakra grounding. The chakras in the feet and hands open up strongly. Only when a person is grounded, is he safe enough to enable the heart to open up to healing.
Grounding is a creative mobilisation and expansion of one’s entire being. It allows each of us to be earth-bound, more human and fully present. It allows us to connect deeply with each other.
It puts us ‘in touch’ with the child inside. It accelerates healing and permits more intimacy. The base chakra eventually roots itself deeply into the earth plane. We then manifest success more powerfully in the physical world.
True grounding not only includes the entire physical body but also affects the emotional, mental, intentional, energetic and spiritual components of your life. This is why the process is unifying and creates wholeness.
CHARGE AND DISCHARGE CYCLE
Another aspect of grounding is the principle of charge and discharge. The basis being, when the body is sufficiently charged, the energy breaches the point of containment in a safe way, so flooding is avoided.
The energy flows free through the body, such that energy blocks open up and energy leaks are sealed. This leads to greater health in the system and allows the person to be ‘here’. In the discharge energy, the client is receptive and energy will move into armoured areas which opens him to greater self awareness.
Some of the deep insights into oneself flow out of discharge. The movement is the charge in grounding, and then the stillness is the discharge.
TYPES OF GROUNDING
Andrea Judith, who is the author of the book, Eastern Body Western Mind, states that “grounding orients us in time and space, and connects us to the environment. Being grounded gives us a source of strength through connection to our body and surroundings”.
“Physically this happens through our legs and feet, through which excitement is passed up into the body and excess is discharged downward into the ground. This means we can stand on our own two feet and move forward in life.”
Only by drawing energy up from the base can we create such a liberating current. Grounding brings awareness into the body and is essential for forming healthy boundaries. We can affect the overall function of the eyes by strengthening a person’s contact with his legs and ground. When a person does not have both feet on the ground he does not see clearly what is going on around him – he is blinded by his illusions.
Alexander Lowen who originated Bioenergetics, noted that being identified with one’s sexuality is an aspect of grounding. Any activity or exercise that increases the feeling of being grounded increases the charge in the eyes.
A person who has their dignity has their sexual identity intact. In the body the person has a pelvis that is carried backward and loose, and it moves freely with the body’s motions. A pulled forward pelvis causes a postural collapse in the body and often signals shame based sexuality in the person.
One of the standard exercises in bioenergetic exercises is the bow or arch position, which helps a person sense the position of their pelvis and reduce some of the chronic muscular tensions that restrict its loose motility.
Just as a tree can be uprooted, so can a person be uprooted. Windstorms uproot trees and emotional storms uproot men and women. Alexander Lowen notes that connectedness with our biological ground allows the circulating of vitality, rage, anguish and even death to be contained and tolerated.
John Pierrakos stated that the feelings travel on the energy field, when the energy is released then the feelings flow. After one connects the movements of the emotions through the body, the inner reality can be re-established.
The release of negative emotions – anger, rage, hostility – results in crying and pain. The release of the pain restores the natural movement of the life energy. Any release of pain provides relief to any chronic contraction and leads one into expansion.
When emotions are grounded, feelings simply flow and one can see the difference between emotions that are in truth and emotions that are distorted and based on the past.
At the Energetics Institute, we employ Bioenergetics, Tai Chi and Qi-Gong based exercises which work on all these dimensions in parallel via the body movement and resulting build of energetic charge. The key to grounding and to our dignity is the sense of having one’s feet firmly planted on the ground.
Our legs and feet are like the roots of a tree that not only anchor us to our reality but also provide the foundation for our sense of self. If one has a feeling contact with the ground through one’s legs and feet, one is connected to the reality of one’s body as an embodiment of their being.
A person who lacks this contact is said to be ungrounded and so living in a perpetual sense of fight or fright ANS at some subtle or gross level in their heads. Such people relate to life through the conceptual mental images that reside in this heady domain which may be an idealised or distorted form of self image.
Two key exercises that Body Psychotherapy uses to promote grounding or to obtaining a feeling in the feet and legs, are as follows:
1) The bow or arch position. – one stands with the feet about 2 feet apart or at shoulder width, then turns the toes slightly inwards to rotate and open the thighs, so reducing tension in the gluteus and other buttock muscles. The knees are slightly bent, the weight of the body aligns over the balls of the feet, and the body is bent slightly backwards. One then assists this posture by placing arms behind back with the hands placed into a light fist and then pressed into the small of the back. The pelvis must be checked now to ensure it is loosely held back and not pushed forward as else a pelvic block will interrupt the arch and feeling flow. One now lets the belly relax and breathe from the belly and abdominal area. Breathe deeply and if this is easy then one will start to feel connected to the feet and ground, and a bodily vibration may emerge which should be left to naturally ripple through the body to release tension. Hold this position for 1-2 minutes.
2) The waterfall or elephant arch – one stands with the feet about 1 feet apart and the toes are turned slightly inwards and then bends forward till the fingers touch the ground in front of the feet. The knees have a slight bend and the weight of the body aligns over the balls of the feet. The person must attempt to keep a full breathing motion going and relax into the posture. If one’s hamstrings are tight then extend the knees to a straight position. In either case the posture may trigger a vibration to commence and continue in the legs and pelvis which is both unusual but pleasurable. The person will start to feel connected to their feet and the ground and one should hold this position for 1-3 minutes. Some people develop a hyperventilation effect and tingling in the feet which both relate to breathing more deeply than is usual for the person.
These 2 exercises are but two of those which promote a groundedness, deeper breathing and which reduce tension in the body, and result in a felt sense of oneself as being alive, relaxed and looking and feeling better about oneself and life. There are other videos of exercises that one can practice daily to be found on our YouTube site.
Most clients react positively to this state when they encounter it. The surge in Dopamine that comes from a parasympathetic state of the ANS also is required for plasticity driven change in the brains neural circuits and consolidates the neuronal connections for any behaviours or actions just performed.
This is why with Body Psychotherapy, we normally have a client adopt postures that promote a parasympathetic ANS state to develop, so we reinforce their therapy session learning at a deeper neural level. We have incorporated a number of BodyMind exercises into therapy which are designed to shift a person from Sympathetic into Parasympathetic ANS.
The exercises actually use the grounding principles of charge and discharge. They assist a hyper-energetic (often anxious) person to discharge energy and return to a relaxed state of being, whilst can take a hypo-aroused energetic (often depressed) person to charge themselves up into a state of being able to make contact and have the energy to relate with their world.
If a person adopts these exercises on a regular or daily basis, their BodyMind health normally increases and the relaxed Parasympathetic state creates a positive affect on the BodyMind health. It also positively affects the electromagnetic field of the human BodyMind based on our understanding of the energetic dynamics of human beings