“Grounding” is one of those terms that gets tossed around without much thought to what is really going on with it.
See, I don’t really “ground” in the way most other people do. I have no earth in my astrology chart: I’m very watery, so I tend to absorb energy signatures around me rather than be able to dump things off. I’m also sensitive enough to recognize that just dumping “excess” energy into the environment isn’t always very restorative.
I really like Mike Sententia’s description of what happens when you ground: you are restoring signature, not energy level. It is the act of bringing your natural energy signature to its base state.
This is another reason why I have such a hard time grounding. As an Empath, it is very difficult for me to determine what my “base state” is, and to keep myself there.
Given those considerations, I can get to the actual question. Grounding lets you “turn it off,” whatever “it” may be. It lets you get back to yourself; to restore your sense of self, refocus on your own motivations, concerns, and goals, and avoid burning yourself out by operating in an energy signature that differs from your own. It’s kind of an energetic reset that lets you pull yourself out of whatever energies or things you’ve been working with and get back to being you.
Grounding gets you back to being you instead of being whatever else you were while doing your Work.
I may be a terrible person, but I think this is a confusion of what grounding is in a mental health sense, versus what grounding is in a magical or spiritual practice.
Grounding in a mental health with a spiritual bent way is exactly what is described above–energetic signatures and resets and the like.
Grounding in a spiritual-practice is a huge tool that both let’s you do an enormous amount of stuff and keeps you safe. The whole ‘you ground into the earth’ or ‘grow roots like a tree’ is one way, and often the easiest at first since most people have an understanding of what the earth feels like under their hands or feet.
However, that doesn’t even qualify as the tip of the iceberg. My first teacher made me learn how to ground at a full run and floating in the ocean as examples of being able to produce a tether to anything at anytime. Being able to ground into water is probably one of the most powerful grounds you can form because water is always moving and changing shape and what is in front of you at any given moment is gone the next second.
Grounding can be used if you go into other worlds–I can ground myself in whatever world will accept me and use it as a tool to both get there really easily and fit into the ecosystem like a native, as it were. I can also ground back in the here and now so I can get home safe and fast when needed.
You can have a permanent ground, a transitory ground, one you pack up and take with you, or whatever you like. You can ground into water or fire or thin air or the rock at your feet or what have you, and it has little to do with energy–i don’t put my energy into anything that I don’t want to have some claim or to be able to pull my proverbial chain.
If you get good at it, you can create a ground and then step out of it into another existing one, which is fantastic when you want to be undetected.
A ground is a tool and your personal safety net, nothing more. Grounding doesn’t have to be the process of outputting energy–that’s sort of a newer idea that incorporates the mental health idea of grounding.