Walking the wire is living, everything else is waiting

Karl Wallenda (famous acrobat)

When we understand the balance mechanism we will understand the aetiology of neurosis

Paul Schilder


Grounding is a practice and concept that precedes Reich and Lowen. The concept was already present in other bodywork traditions such as Chi Gung, and of course it was present in folk wisdom.

Grounding as an impressionistic term is readily accepted by most people-- there seems to be a real need for the concept. To move from metaphor and define grounding operationally, however, is somewhat more difficult. It seems to refer to a single experience, but the definition or description can be approached in several ways:

'Groundedness' is perhaps a slightly different concept, describing how grounding shows up in a lifestyle. Groundedness is shown by:

The opposite of grounding is 'upward displacement', which describes an emphasis on getting 1) above the waist, 2) above the neck, 3) above the brainstem and midbrain (into the cerebral cortex), and 4) above other people. Upward displacement often results in underdevelopment of the lower body. Some writers have tried to make upward displacement into an asset as well, calling it 'skying.' It might be possible, as a thought experiment, to conceive of a 'too-grounded', too-earthbound' condition that needs lifting, but it is hard to think of any modern real world examples. The opposite of grounding, at least in the psychological sphere, is derealization, discussed below.

Pierre Janet and 'Realization'

Janet's concept of realization is a psychological concept not a physical one, but it is closely allied with the concept of grounding, and I think beneficial. Realization more narrowly focuses on the senses and perception and their effective functioning in harmony with the ego,. Realization, and its constituent processes of personification and presentification are actually artifacts of recovery. That is, they are recovery from derealization, depersonalization, and de-presentification. which stem from loss of the body. When the body is not in contact with the environment, the 'here', the 'now', and the 'me', is lost. In modern English the word realization is usually used to mean gaining a new understanding. The meaning here is somewhat different, more akin to 'making real,'but the meaning is not entirely different.

The best way to accomplish realization (combat derealization) is to reclaim the life of the body, this was a very strong point Alexander Lowen made in Betrayal of the Body.