Grounding: noun: training or instruction in the fundamentals of a field of knowledge (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

I don’t recall the first time I heard the word “grounding” used in the more metaphysical context referring to anchoring one’s emotional/spiritual/psychic state to one’s fundamental surroundings, roots, or Mother Earth, herself. But I liked the word in this context because it reminded me of rich soil and how that made me feel across all my senses. Connected. Safe. Of the elements. That’s the point.

The word has long roots in our mind/body/spirit vernacular.

But if we think about what’s happening when we need to “ground”, what’s happening? Why do we say this? What are we wanting? What’s the end result we’re after? Why do we need to tether ourselves, our energies to earth? To dark, fecund soil. To feel safe? Secure? Calm? Protected? Why? What’s happening the moment those thoughts become an utterance?

Fear of loss. Loss of control. Loss of material things. Loss of people. Loss of love. Loss of pride, ego (what we just knew to be true!). Maybe?

Traditionally, I suppose scents that remind us of earthy, musty, loamy soil are most often called upon in states of high stress/anxiety because their constituents, which help to create those specific scents, help to calm the central nervous system, regulate our stress hormones, bring our heart rates back down, and center our thoughts once again. We reach for patchouli and vetiver. Maybe frankincense and myrrh. Oak moss. The slow moving, resinous, amber-colored essential oils that require our patience. They’re proven effective to help regulate our CNS and calm frayed nerves.

But consider the definition of grounding as expressed above: training or instruction in a field of knowledge. Or maybe understanding? It’s a noun here, not a verb. Something worthy to acquire, not do. Grounding as a verb connects us to earth, all of which connects us to our root chakra, if you subscribe to Ayurvedic or energetic thinking. As a verb, the action strives to create homeostasis, balance, a centering. Maybe it serves to soothe fear. As a noun, the thing is something we acquire to hold, a deep and fundamental understanding of truth, maybe. An education.

Grounding, the noun, then asks us to be open to learn and question, not to root down for safety. Not tether ourselves, but take flight! Can we inquire within and learn what the Womb has to say about fear? What the Will has to share about fear? What the Heart has to say about fear? What the Voice has to say about fear? What the Mind has to say about fear?

What can geranium teach us about our own ebb and flow? What can helichrysum teach us about moving on? How about rose? What does she have to say about the heart and all the ways we empty her and fill her up? What can sweet marjoram teach us about voice and vision? Typically, we don’t feel these down low in the body as we would patchouli, vetiver, and the other “grounding” essential oils. We feel them land elsewhere in the body. Pay attention. When you smell them, where do they land? How does it feel? What do they bring up for you? What do these memories want to teach you?

Soil and cool grass is lovely. The oils that remind us of grounding, the verb, are good friends who offer quick shelter. But fear wants to be found, studied, and understood. Perhaps in the study, we’ll acquire a fundamental and necessary courage to accept and love ourselves, then the world.

Let the plants be ever your best teacher.