When navigating the uncomfortable emotions, thoughts and physical sensations that often go along with the grieving process, we sometimes experience episodes of feeling disconnected from ourselves and from our own body. Symptoms of this disconnect can include feeling as if you are floating above or beside your body, mental confusion, difficulty accessing words, difficulty letting go of depleting or negative thoughts stuck in the head, and not understanding the body’s requirement for food and rest. In stress management training, this sense of disconnect is called being “ungrounded”. When you feel ungrounded, imaging yourself as a tree, deeply rooted to the earth can help you feel greater comfort within the body, mind and emotions during the grieving process. Optimally imagining yourself as a tree can be done in a park or other quiet outdoor setting; the exercise can also be done in the comfort of your own home.
Begin in a standing position. You may find that you prefer to be barefoot to allow for the full experience of connecting with the earth. If you are more comfortable sitting then sit, planting your feet firmly on the ground. Close your eyes gently or cast them downward in a soft gaze – whatever feels most comfortable and right to you.
Notice your soles and the sensations you feel in your feet. Notice how your feet feel with the connection they have made to the earth. Rest your arms gently by your sides. Notice the totality of your body, scanning for areas of tension – areas of unrest or held stress - and ask those areas to relax.
Next focus your attention on your breathing. Take three deep breaths in through the nose and out through the nose or mouth, whatever is most comfortable for you. Then breathe normally with awareness.
Bring your attention and your breath to the bottom of your feet. Imagine that with each breath, you’re stretching a root or roots down from the bottom of your feet deep into the earth, as if your body is a tree. Feel your feet and ankles descend into the earth beneath you as if they are the roots of a tree. Feel your feet extend deep, deep into the ground, deep into the core of the earth. With each breath, sense or feel your root go ever deeper, through nutrient rich soil and a variety of soil types, fresh underground springs and deep water table. With each breath, sense or feel the thickness, depth, width and strength of each root.
Notice any thoughts, sensations or images that come to you as you travel deeper on this inner root journey. Note with awareness and without judgment any thoughts that accompany your inward trek. Continue to breathe, allowing your root to penetrate to the very heart of the earth – her inner core. Pause for a moment feeling how grounded, connected, you are. Appreciate your body and your body as roots and tree as you stand upon and connect with the body of the planet. When you’re ready, begin drawing energy from this heart center into your root. With each breath, draw on the power of this stability, this grounding energy, imaging it coming into your body through your feet/root.
When you are ready or feeling restored, allow your awareness to slowly shift back to the soles of your feet. Notice how the ground feels beneath you. Notice how your feet maintain the connection you have made with the earth. Be aware of the energy the earth has given you. Bring your awareness to the strength and relaxation you feel. Be aware of the tree energy you now embody. Before fully opening your eyes, bring your awareness to your roots and to the connection you have made.
From the blog post, Spending Time in Nature Can Help Heal Grief by Elizabeth Lewis.