Quick Grounding Exercise for ADHD and Why I Do It Every Day
Updated: Nov 16, 2021
I was 39 the first time a medical professional mentioned ADD to me. It was during a screening for postpartum depression in order to return to work. I had been to a few other therapists and professionals over the years, mostly in my twenties, and their focus with me had largely been on managing anxiety. I remember discussing my inability to be organized and even mentioning ADD. One woman told me flat out, "You don't have ADD." Why were they so sure it was something else? Because on the outside I seemed to have been functioning well. I'd always gotten good grades, had two Masters degrees, and was successful at work. But the truth was I never felt like I had worked up to my potential. I often procrastinated tasks and sometimes felt I was lazy. I relayed to the psychologist I met at 39 that a well-intentioned Naturopath I had been seeing once told me "If you watch organized people, they write things down and make lists." She replied, "Well, if you could make lists, you'd make lists." I felt like hugging her!
Truthfully, I knew all along that my attention was something that stood in my way, sometimes at one extreme and sometimes at the other (hyper-focus). When I was in elementary school, my best friend was sitting next to me during a read-aloud and she reached over, turned the page in my book for me and pointed to the line we were reading. It was no secret to this intuitive little soul! Flashing forward to my work life years later, as an elementary art teacher I often had many tasks to do to prepare for three or four classes in a row. I knew the students would be arriving shortly and I knew all the things that needed to be prepared and set out. I would sometimes find myself standing in the middle of the room, and it felt like I was spinning. I was on overload, thinking about all of the tasks at once. I was eventually able to come back to the room and break them down into pieces. I recall stopping into a friend's classroom on a particularly full day. I told her, "It's like I have ADD and OCD, and it's paralyzing." She laughed, taking it as a comment in my usual self-deprecating style at that time, but it really hit me to say this out loud. I meant it.
I've come to understand that this "ADD" and "OCD" I mentioned were actually parts of the same. If you or a loved one have experience with ADD/ADHD, you might be able to relate to the hyper-focus and insistence on perfection in certain tasks. This was another mask to my attentional issues... because it only presented in certain areas, and it became a topic with my therapists through the lens of "anxiety."
Don't get me wrong. I'm grateful for the gifts that have come with this "disorder." As an artist, I loved sitting down in the evening with a project and working straight through to the middle of the night. I'm also grateful for my intuitive skills, even though I didn't always understand them the way I do now.* These were things I didn't want to or need to lose as I healed the more chaotic aspects of my thinking.
Around the time I met that psychologist, I started working with two amazing Shamanic practitioners from Connecticut, Jane Burns and Gail Gorelick. There were times that each of them told me I was having trouble staying "grounded." I understood the words they were saying, but not yet totally what it meant or felt like to be grounded. I learned some grounding exercises. I found that short meditations, grounding exercises, and Energy Healing were immensely helpful! In my experience, it seems Energy Healing has actually had the ability to change the way my brain works. I do Energy Healing on myself and for others. So what does it mean to be grounded? It means feeling into your physical body in order to be fully present in your surroundings.
Remember that spinning feeling I mentioned earlier? One day as I was about to change my son's diaper, I found myself standing in the middle of the house. All at once, I was thinking about a conversation I was just having, what I was about to do before I realized I needed to change the diaper, and trying to remember what it was I was doing now. (Yes, some call this "Mommy brain" and I was excused for my distractedness for several years riding on that phrase alone! But this wasn't actually new for me.) I recognized that "spinning" feeling once again and now had the understanding to say to myself, "Oh! I'm not grounded." I did a quick grounding breath, the one I'll be showing you here, and it all fell away.
I do this exercise every morning. In the video I demonstrate it while sitting outside in the yard and I use hand motions to help you visualize how the energy flows. In reality, my morning practice is on my porch, and I add intentions for the day at the end (being present in the moment, having compassion, gratitude, understanding and trust. You can add whatever works best for you, if you choose!). I do not generally use hand motions at all. I have done this in my car, standing in my kitchen, and I've even done it invisibly in public with my eyes open, touching my thumb and fingers together. I hope you find this practice helpful and think of it in those moments of overload, should you experience them!
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*For more on intuitive skills and neurodiversity, check back for my next blog post on the intuitive child, "A Parent's Guidance." (Coming soon!)