General calming/grounding exercises
These are some exercises I used back in high school to ground myself when I was on the verge of a panic attack or something. I'm not particularly good at the deeper visualizations and whatnot unless I'm doing a guided meditation... so most of these involve imagining something based on a feeling (like breathing) or trying to imagine a physical sensation.
Important to know:
- Diaphragmatic/belly breathing. If you're an anxious person, you probably practice chest breathing, which isn't conducive to relaxation. Put a hand on your belly and draw your breath into your stomach. If you feel your belly expand as you inhale, you're doing it right.
- Basic visualization. You need to be able to visualize things, either visually (duh) or physically, that aren't really there. Often you'll have to visualize things that wouldn't even be visible to you (i.e. roots in the ground). There are exercises to practice your skills if you struggle with this.
1. Tree Root Grounding
For this exercise, I recommend standing outside on dirt or grass. I also recommend you stand barefoot, but I understand if that's not an option.
- Make sure you are standing up straight, arms by your side.
- Close your eyes and begin taking deep breaths (however you like, I like 5-5-7 breathing)
- Pay attention to the sensations you feel in your feet and their connection to the ground.
- Slowly scan your body for tension and relax whatever feels too tight. Maybe it's your shoulders, maybe your jaw...
- As you relax, push your unwanted and tense feelings down into your feet with each exhale.
- Now, Imagine your feet are connected to the ground by roots, as if your body is a tree.
- Feel your root system extending deep, deep, deeper into the Earth. With each breath, your energies are pushed down into the Earth and washed away.
- Keep going until you feel refreshed and grounded.
2. Breathing out smoke
No, not actual smoke! You can do this one anywhere since it's just breathing. Since I'm not good at visualizing, I find it helpful to imagine the air I'm breathing is going from thick and cloudy to smooth and gentle.
- Begin taking deep, slow breaths.
- Imagine your lungs as being full of dark, cloudy, black smoke.
- As you inhale, imagine you're drawing in purifying clean air.
- As you exhale, imagine you're releasing the smoke trapped in your lungs.
- As you breathe, imagine the air in your lungs getting clearer, going from thick black smoke - to thinner grey smoke - to clear purified air.
- Keep going until you believe all the smoke has been fully cleared out of your body.
Some simpler tools
These don't require much of a full meditation and just need to have your attention focused on one thing or for you to complete one simple action.
- Take a shower and pay very close attention to the feeling of water on your skin. Sometimes I like to just watch the water dripping off my hand.
- Hug a tree and imagine it filling you with loving energies.