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Mindful Grounding for Anxiety/Trauma

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Mindful Grounding for Anxiety/Trauma

This audio provides assistance when you are overwhelmed with anxiety and can't focus on relaxation especially if you are experiencing depersonalization or derealization (you or your surroundings don't feel real). The grounding technique can be particularly helpful when someone has anxiety due to trauma which is causing flashbacks to the memory of the trauma. It has you focus on your immediate surroundings to help focus away from the traumatic memory.

This type of audio is not for the purpose of relaxation but to help you feel more focused so that you can use other techniques. Once you have used the mindful grounding technique and can focus a bit more, it is a good idea to use the relaxation audios to help calm yourself further.

It is best to listen to this audio for the first time when you don't need it so that you will have an idea of what to expect. In addition, developing an understanding of mindfulness can help with this practice: Understanding Mindfulness.

Transcript: Mindful Grounding for Anxiety/Trauma

This audio is a technique to help when you are overwhelmed with anxiety. In particular, when you have suffered trauma, you may sometimes have anxiety so intense you can't focus on anything to help calm you. You may even feel that things aren't real or you may be reliving a memory. Mindful grounding is a method where you deliberately focus your attention on your immediate surroundings. This is to help you focus on the present rather than on past memories or fears. This exercise is not a relaxation method but has the purpose of helping you get refocused onto the present which might help you to relax and calm yourself. It is best to use as many of your senses as you can when engaged in this process.

First, sit down and notice what you are sitting on. Is it a chair? Or a bed? Or the floor? Whatever it may be, take a good look at it. What do you see? What color is it? Are there patterns in the color? Is there a texture? Are there different materials such as fabric, wood, metal?

Now touch what you are sitting on. Run your hand over the surface. What do you feel? Is it soft or hard? Is it warm or cool to the touch? Is it rough or smooth? Does the feeling change with different parts of the surface? Is there a sound as you run your hand across the surface or if you tap the surface? Can you grab a hold of it? How solid is it? You can continue to hold on to the chair because that makes it more present and real.

Now, notice the floor beneath your feet. What does it look like? What is the floor made out of? What color is it? Is there a pattern? What does it feel like to your feet? Is it hard or cushiony? When you move your feet, can you hear a sound? If you can, touch the floor. What does it feel like to your hand? Is there a sound if you tap the surface?

Now, begin to expand your senses beyond the chair and the floor. What do you see around you? How big is the room? Is there other furniture? What does that furniture look like? Is there anything on the walls such as pictures or cabinets?

Is there anything you can hear in the room? Maybe the sound of a clock. Or, maybe the sound of air flowing through a window or from the heating and cooling system. Or, maybe there is music playing. Notice whatever sounds are around you.

Is there anything you can smell in the room? Maybe there is some food. Or, maybe there are flowers or other fragrance. Just allow yourself to notice any smells.

Now, if you feel ready, you can begin to move around the room and touch the different things that you see. Touch the surface of the walls. Touch the furniture. Touch the cabinets or pictures. Look at the items as you touch them. Notice what you see and hear as you touch the items and surfaces in the room.

As you touch the different items and parts of the room, tell yourself “This is real in the here and now. I am in this room. My anxiety comes from memories or fears. But those aren't here now. I can see and touch and hear what is real in the here and now. I am in this room. Nothing else is happening.”

Continue to focus on your immediate experience of the room. As you feel ready, you can also begin to focus on your breathing. With each breath tell yourself “I am safe in the here and now. I am in this room. I can see it and touch it. Nothing is happening now except what I can see and touch and hear. I am safe.”

Continue to focus on your breathing. Just notice the air as it comes into your body and notice the air as it leaves your body. This is similar to what you just did with the room. You are focusing your senses on your immediate experience of breathing. What it feels like as you breathe. How the muscles in your chest might tighten as you inhale and relax as you exhale. Notice the movement of your chest as you inhale and exhale. You might even notice the sound of your breathing. Or you might place your hand on your chest or abdomen and feel the movement of your body as you breathe. Right now you are not trying to change your breathing. Instead, you are just noticing it.

As you focus on your breathing, you can tell yourself “I can feel each breath in the here and now. Nothing else is occurring. The anxiety is from my memories or fears. Right now I am safe in the here and now. I can see and touch what is around me. I can feel each breath I take. I am safe.”

As you continue to focus on your breathing, it may begin to naturally slow down. If it doesn't, that is okay. Just notice each breath. You don't have to change your breathing but just focus on your experience of it. No matter what your breathing feels like, it is natural, it is your body and it won't harm you.

Keep in mind that your memories or fears might be scary but they are not present now. You are grounding yourself in the present. You are aware of what is around you. You are aware of each breath. You are safe in the here and now.

You may need to repeat this exercise until you feel calmer and safer.

As you practice this exercise over time you will become more and more skilled at grounding yourself in the present. Eventually you will be able to use this method without needing to listen to this audio.

Kindle Books by
Dr. Monica Frank

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