When we are doing our personal work — whether it is meditation, inquiry or working with a practitioner — we need to find ways to support ourselves if we begin to feel overwhelmed.From time to time, we can become overwhelmed by strong emotions or energies in our body. They can arise spontaneously or as a result of being triggered by some external experience. Whichever it is, we need to be able to regulate ourselves so that we do not go into crises or overwhelm. We do this by developing strategies to stay present.
Unfortunately, the experience of being overwhelmed to the point where it’s difficult to cope is a familiar experience for many. For others, it rarely happens and if it does, it’s manageable. If you are someone who experiences this often, I would like to touch on a few simple tools that could help.
Three Techniques to Stay Grounded
Knowing how to ‘self-regulate’ is useful in everyday life, not just while sitting in meditation. Here are some simple techniques that you can follow if you start to feel overwhelmed.
1) Scan Your Body
Gently bring your attention to your feet. Feel the contact you have with the ground, you can even scrunch your toes a few times. If you are sitting down, notice where you feel the contact between your body and the chair or cushion you are sitting on.
Do your best to bring all of your attention to the place where your body comes in contact with the ground, even if it is via your chair. Allow yourself to gently exhale, and then inhale. Exhale for four seconds, hold for one and then inhale for two seconds.
If you are alone and feel comfortable, you can lie down on the ground, preferably outside where you can feel the earth beneath you. Notice how you are being support by the earth. Gently follow your breath.
2) Scan Your Surroundings
Take a moment to look around the room. Out loud, name five objects that you see, for example, chair, table, window, door, etc. Repeat this a few times.
Then, find some vertical lines in the room, such as a door frame or the corner of the room. Starting at the top, slowly flow the vertical lines down to the floor. Repeat this a few times until you start to feel yourself relax.
Remember, when we are overwhelmed our body contracts. This happens based on our conditioning — something happened in the past that we could not cope with and this part of us is being triggered now in the present moment.
If our body starts to contract and we do not have a way to help regulate it, the experience will reinforce the original contraction. This does not help release the pain — in fact, it can actually crystallize it further. So, take your time and take it easy. Keep it simple and return to your breath, notice your feet on the ground.
3 ) Get Active
Another technique is to find an activity that helps you stay ground and relaxed. This could be meditating, going for a walk in the woods, along the beach, or hanging out with your pet. It can be active like going for a bike ride, a run or a swim.
As I mentioned earlier, this is an important topic for many people. I would love to hear from you what helps you feel grounded. You can list them below in the comment section. Also, keep an eye out for future blogs on this subject.