Grounding and Connection Practices for Calming Fear

Photo Credit: marialiangxv via Pixabay

Photo Credit: marialiangxv via Pixabay

Fear can be a tricky emotion to navigate. I’m a firm believer that our emotions, in their pure form, are useful and informative. They’re a source of insight and energy. And they can get distorted, amplified or disruptive when we don’t learn how to befriend them and work with them skillfully.

The clear form of fear serves us well and has an essential purpose. The amplified version of fight, flight or freeze also has it’s value, but can easily get triggered by situations where it’s more of an obstacle than an aid.

My last post was the first of three where I’m sharing practices for calming the nervous system after the reactive, fight/flight/freeze mode has been triggered. These are a sampling. There are lots of resources for more support. If this is something you struggle with on a frequent basis, please seek out the resources you need.  It’s also worth repeating that if you’re in a situation where actual danger is present, take appropriate action.

When the nervous system has been triggered into reactive mode without actual danger, or after a threat has passed, it’s useful to have practical skills you can use to restore you to a place of peace.

The practices I find most effective fall into three different categories – calming the body, getting grounded and connected with something larger, and receiving support. Each has a slightly different and uniquely helpful, affect. Like me, you might find that what’s effective in one situation doesn’t work so well in another. So it’s really helpful to be familiar with a few techniques in each category. 

Last time we talked about techniques for calming the body

Below are practices that help you feel grounded in your body, connected with the earth and part of a generally safe and benevolent world. I’ve included some that you can do on the spot, no matter where you are. Play around with each of them. You can use them one at a time or combine several into one practice. My bet is you’ll find them useful in all sorts of situations.

  • Feel your feet firmly connected with the earth. Let your eyes settle into a soft focus and gently observe your surroundings. Let yourself anchor into the knowledge that right now, all is well. 
  • Bring your attention to the sounds in your environment. Notice what’s close & what’s far away. Notice the quality, texture and volume. Notice the space between the sounds. Sense the network of human and non-human life around you. Notice the sounds within your body – your breath, your pulse – and it’s part in that full network of life.
  • Notice the sensations in your body as a whole. Rather than focusing on one discrete area of the body, see if you can sense the fullness of your being. Let your awareness relax out into that fullness. Let yourself be right here – no where to go, nothing to do. Again, notice that you’re basically all right in this moment . . . . and this moment . . . . and this moment . . . . 
  • Sense the space in the room or environment where you are – in your home or another building, in your car, in a forest, in a park or neighborhood, in your community. Let yourself be aware of the sense of space and the sense of container of the building or neighborhood or community. Imagine your energy relaxing out into that space. Feel how the space has room for all of what you’re feeling, and how the “container” holds you, supports you.
  • Take yourself to a natural surrounding where there is some experience of spaciousness (a beach, shoreline, forest, park, day or nighttime sky-gazing). Let your senses take it all in. Notice how your vision naturally shifts between noticing small details to seeing the wide-angle view. Allow yourself to drift effortlessly between those two levels of focus. Feel the sensations of the air, sun, moisture on your skin. Notice the wide variety of sounds in your environment, the smell of trees, water, flowers, etc. Feel & sense the relationship between what you see, hear, smell and feel. Feel & sense your place in this, your connection to this. Notice how you are one, integral part of this natural environment.

Next time we’ll work with practices that strengthen our experience of feeling supported. In the meantime, practice these a few times a day. Like the calming the body exercises, if you practice these regularly, they’ll be second nature to you when you need them most.


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