Grounding: Coming Back from Altered States of Consciousness

By George A. Boyd © 2003

Whenever you practice meditation, remember that you are inducing an altered state of consciousness. Remaining in an altered state of consciousness may be disorienting and distracting. After you complete the meditation process, always bring your attention back to the grounded state of awareness.

The grounded state of awareness is marked by:

  • Integrated functioning (meditation may separate out one aspect of functioning from others, for example, having a client focus on his feelings. Arthur Deikman called this phenomena deautomatization.) [1]
  • Relational contact with the other people in the room
  • Sensory orientation to the objects in the environment
  • The sense of being fully embodied
  • Present time awareness of the current moment of life, with ready recall of experience
  • The ability to autonomously direct behavior
  • Attention is focused in the medulla center

An altered state of consciousness induced by psychotherapeutic focusing, induction of a hypnotic trance, or entering a state of meditation moves the attention away from its ground state in the medulla oblongata area, the place where the skull meets the neck. Always bring your attention back to the medulla focus.

If you do a lot of work in altered states of consciousness, especially if you focus your attention in the Superconscious field of the mind, you may experience the Kundalini Shakti awakening in you. This may bring about a blissful, ecstatic state of awareness (Samadhi) in which you may temporarily feel at one with the Cosmos.

Awakening of the Kundalini may also dredge up material from the unconscious that may resemble a psychotic break. Before you call the Psychiatric Emergency Team to haul your self off to the hospital, try this.

  1. Notice where you attention is focused.
  2. Bring your attention back to the ground state of awareness. Guide yourself back using the map of the Great Continuum of Consciousness, focusing on the Self, the Will, and so on down through the Metaconscious, Subconscious, and Conscious mind.
  3. Visualize that energy of the Kundalini Shakti is traveling down your spine and grounding itself in the center of the earth. Repeat this until you feel that your heightened energy levels have come back down.
  4. If you are breathing quickly or hyperventilating, consciously slow down your breath into a relaxed rhythm.
  5. Focus on objects in the room and settle into the sense you are fully in your body. Reassure yourself that you are OK in a soothing voice, explaining to the frightened part of yourself that you have just experienced an altered state of consciousness, but you are back now.

If the symptoms subside, avoid further altered states of consciousness work until you are certain that you have re-stabilized into your usual personality functioning for several weeks, and you have no more recurrences of the material arising from your unconscious.


1 – Deikman, Arthur J. “Deautomatization and the Mystic Experience.” In Tart, Charles T., Altered States of Consciousness. New York: Jon Wiley and Sons, 1969. Pages 23 to 43.