How I used a grounding process to get through a civil trial

Four years ago, I went through a grueling six-week civil trial. Every day I was either in the court room or at the court house from nearly sun up to sun down. I was not prepared for the emotional and physical toll it rendered on my body and mind. I am a very strong willed person who will persevere to get justice but even I had some emotional breaking points.

We weren’t allowed to show any emotions in the courtroom and for a person who wears her heart on her sleeve that was easier said than done. I had so much pent up anger that was being denied expression that it manifested into my jaw. Unconsciously, I clenched my jaw so excessively that I ground my teeth down a noticeable amount.

I created little rituals for myself to get me through the days. I would look at each juror and send them a silent prayer. In my mind, I would thank each one of them individually for serving. I would thank them for their time. I would tell them how much I appreciated them. I would envision myself hugging each one of them at the end of the trial and thanking them for finding in our favor.

One day, in the middle of the trial, we had the day off from court. I decided to attend a workshop at a coworking space I belonged to. The coworking space was specifically for women and I felt like I could use a strong dose of female energy. The workshop was presented by Dana Bristol-Smith, the Executive Director of Leap to Success, which has a leadership program designed for women who are overcoming major life challenges such as domestic violence or homelessness.

The workshop I attended was to teach people public speaking skills and how to stay grounded and focused while delivering a strong message. I had never met Dana prior to the workshop and once she told her story about what her organization does and about the courageous women who turned their life around I was an emotional wreck. The weeks of trial came crashing down hard and I couldn’t stop crying for most of her workshop. Through tears flowing, I listened. I knew the time was coming when I would be on the witness stand myself. I felt it was fate that I had that day off and was able to attend her workshop.

She guided us through a grounding process. We placed our feet flat on the ground. We closed our eyes. We envisioned roots coming out from our body and rooting deep into the ground like a strong oak tree. We took deep breaths in through our noses and out through our mouths. It sounds simple because it is and that is the point. This can be done anywhere at any time. You can be inconspicuous and not even close your eyes so people won’t wonder what you are doing.

Throughout the weeks that followed the workshop, I would practice what Dana taught me while I sat watching the attorneys question witnesses. I was one of the last people to testify in our trial. When the day came that I was going to be on the witness stand, I went to the bathroom many times so I could practice the grounding process.  

When it was my turn to take the witness stand, I made sure that I sat with my feet firmly planted and I envisioned roots coming out of my body and digging deep, breaking through the hard wood floor of the witness stand and into the earth below. I imagined myself mightily anchored and ready to withstand the storm of questions the defense attorney would hurl at me. I can honestly say that grounding process did its job. It helped me feel like I had a strong foundation to stand on and it helped me remain calm and feel grounded. I’m happy to report that I survived the storm and continue to use that grounding process to this day.

“Get yourself grounded and you can navigate even the stormiest roads in peace” – Steve Goodier