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*MEDITATION: Ground and Center Yourself with Meditation
By:Joshua Wade

"Grounding and centering" is a meditation and visualization technique that allows you to focus on yourself and the present to become whole and aware, especially in times of stress or worry, when the mind can become easily distracted. Although it may take some time to master, using meditation to become grounded and centered is relatively easy to learn and will help you to learn to live in the present moment so that you may approach difficult situations with a calm, focused and steady mind.

Focusing on Breathing to Become Centered

Sit comfortably on the floor in a quiet place, cross-legged, with your spine straight and your hands resting on your lap. You may sit in a straight-backed chair if you prefer.

Adjust your position so that you are balanced on the bones of your buttocks, keeping your back as straight as possible so that you can feel the floor beneath you.

Close your eyes. Take in a deep breath and let it out completely. Continue this inhalation and exhalation while focusing your attention on the sound and movement of your breathing.

Observe the motion of your ribs as you breathe in and out, as well as the natural expansion and contraction of the muscles in your body.

Keep focusing on your breathing, which should become slower as you become more relaxed, allowing your mind to begin to feel calm and steady.

Allow yourself to return from meditation gradually. Slowly open your eyes only when you are ready, taking in the room a little at a time.

Associate a word, phrase or image with this grounded, centered state. Over time, thinking about this image or chanting this word over and over as a mantra will allow you to return to this state more quickly in times of stress.

Visualization Exercise

Imagine your breathing reaching into the floor as a tree reaching its roots into the earth. The image of a tree is often used since it embodies the ideas of stability and connectedness. With every breath, imagine the breath in your lungs leaving your body and flowing down deeper and deeper into the ground until it reaches Earth's core.

Inhale and visualize your breath pulling up from the center of the planet, bringing warmth and energy with it, while expelling your stress and worry as you exhale, pushing this energy into the ground.

Hold the energy in your center for a few moments on each inhale and exhale. Allow the warmth and energy you are visualizing to course through you, pulsing through your arms and legs and into your hands, feet, neck and out through your head.

Focus on your body and spine as you breathe. Imagine your spine becoming the trunk of the tree, pulling healthy energy from the ground. Visualize your stress and worry releasing into Earth's core as you exhale. See this negative energy dissolved by Earth's heat.

Open your eyes and stand, slowly, visualizing your feet as roots into the soil. Stretch out your arms and become aware of your peripheral vision. Continue to breathe in the same deep manner as before, allowing your breathing to return slowly to normal as you move out of the meditative state.