Getting Grounded: The “Five Things” Exercise
More than ever, most of us need ways to get bring ourselves back into
the present moment when we get caught up in our busy lives, and in the
stresses created by uncertainties about war, terrorism, and the economy.
As I’ve moved through my daily life recently, I’ve found my
attention moving toward collecting, remembering, and retooling grounding
processes I’ve discovered over the years. I’ve also become
extremely grateful for the years of practice I’ve done in learning
grounding and centering techniques, as they are coming in very handy these
I was in a meeting a couple of weeks ago, and one of the therapists there
reminded all of us of a wonderful grounding exercise I’d like to
share with you. It is called “The Five Things Exercise” and
was created by Betty Erickson (I apologize if I have remembered her name
incorrectly). Her husband was Milton Erickson, a psychiatrist who taught
a form of hypnosis that has revolutionized hypnotherapy approaches.
The “five things” exercise may be used anytime you find yourself
moving out of your body, getting ungrounded or uncentered, for any reason.
If you notice that you’re dissociating, constricting into fear,
shutting down, experiment with the following process and notice what happens.
First, look at five things in your environment. Then, touch five things,
noticing their textures. Next, listen to five sounds.
After you’ve done this, look at four things, touch four things,
and listen to four sounds.
Then, look at three things, touch three things, and listen to three
Next, do this with two of each and, finally, one of each.
By the time you’ve gotten to seeing one thing, touching one thing,
and listening to one sound, you’ll most likely be back in your
body and fully present.
During these times of uncertainty, grounding processes are more important
than ever, and I’ll be offering more from time to time. With this
one, play with it and notice when and where it helps you to reorient and
recenter yourself. The nice thing about it is that you can do it anywhere
and no one needs to know what you’re doing.
As with all the experiments, allow curiosity to be your companion as you
discover what happens as you focus on the “five things”. The
power of practicing these kinds of grounding approaches before
you need them is that they are then much more likely to be readily available
when you really do need them to help you recenter and reground yourself..
Here for Other Weeks in This Series: