Finding Tranquility in San Antonio: A Journey Through the Grounding Technique

Ever since I moved to San Antonio two-and-a-half years ago, I’ve noticed that I feel calmer and more connected to myself. I attribute this internal peace to the surrounding landscape, offering aesthetically calming visuals and the opportunity to ground oneself with nature.

I’m originally from Far West Texas, El Paso, where the landscape is desert, sand, tumbleweeds, and the beautiful Franklin Mountain Range. Sunsets are the most captivating sight, as the sun casts its goodnight kiss on the sky in hues of pinks, oranges, yellows, and reds, and cuddles between the peaks of the mountains. So, for me, seeing blankets upon blankets of trees and grass – this is a green landscape, and it is serene.

My family’s favorite pastime is being outside, whether that be gardening, going for evening walks together, or simply sitting on the front porch enjoying each other’s company. Our move to San Antonio deepened our connection with and appreciation of nature, aided by all the outdoor activities such as lakes, rivers, creeks, trails, parks, wildlife, flowers, sunrises, and sunsets. One of our favorite places to visit is Castroville Regional Park, a 126-acre wooded park on the Medina River, about a 40-minute drive from Downtown San Antonio.

Castroville Regional Park offers a large open space for the family to run around in; on weekends, it hosts children’s sporting events. There are two playground areas, walking trails, tennis courts, a public swimming pool, and an RV park, all surrounded by the natural beauty of the tranquil park. Castroville Regional Park is a nice place for a family outing, gathering, or even a birthday party. We have enjoyed picnics at the park on several occasions. It’s a hidden calm retreat away from the busyness of the city, where only the singsong of the birds, flutter of the leaves in the gentle wind, the buzzing of the bees, and the ripples of the creek’s water fill the air. The best thing about this park, for me, is the lack of cell phone service.

I have found my connection to Mother Nature at the gorgeous Castroville Regional Park, and it has become one of my favorite places to visit. Because the park itself is a place of tranquility, I can lean into a grounding exercise and really connect with myself and my family. Motherhood can be chaotic, and we can find ourselves drowning in the chaos, unable to stay afloat. Grounding exercises help you refocus on the present moment and helps with reducing anxiety, stress, or any distressing feeling. It involves connecting with yourself using your five senses – sight, touch, hear, smell, and taste. For these types of practices, I like to make sure I’ve brought along a beverage or snack. Let me take you along on one of our adventures.

When we enter the park, we set the intention to be present with each other and Mother Nature. Grounding keeps us rooted in the here and now, in the beauty of reality. As we drive in, we take in the scenic sights – this is the sight part of the exercise – noticing the colors, the animals, the trees, and discuss what we see. We often turn this into a playful game of I-Spy, which also allows us to connect with each person’s perspective.

After we park, I bring my attention to what I can smell; the change in scent from the car to the outdoors is profound. I’ll ask my son, “what do you notice about the smell?” and I always find his responses interesting. I’ll describe to him what I smell, too. The scent can vary depending on the temperature and weather; my favorite is the smell of the trees after it has just rained.

Next, we take a walk around the park and head to the creek, where we kick off our shoes and step into the shallow water – I bring our attention to the touch part of the exercise – what do we feel? I’ll ask my son, “what do you notice about the ground you’re stepping on?” After he answers, I’ll share my response and turn to my husband for his insight. We all share our sensory experiences, connecting with each other and with Mother Nature. We discuss the temperature of the water, the way the ripples crash against our ankles, or the different sizes of pebbles we hold in our hands.

The noise of the chaotic world of motherhood fades into the background and is replaced by the soothing sounds of the flowing creek – the sounds around us become the mainstage for activating our sense of hearing. In the heat of the summer, you can hear the choir of the Chicharras, the geese honking, and at the same time you can hear quietness.

I take it all in: what I can see, hear, touch, smell, and taste. My attention is drawn into my body and my experience. Listening to the symphony of the water in motion, the birds, and the soft splashes of our steps. Feeling the heat of the sun leaving my body as my feet touch the fresh water. Noticing the lingering scent of bug spray on my skin and the sweet taste of the blue Powerade in my mouth. In this moment, I am carried away by the peace I feel, and I am not alone in this tranquility. I am sharing this moment and experience with my family; we are connected to each other and to Mother Nature. And for this moment, the rest of the world seems to pause while we spin in harmony with nature.

So, the next time you venture outdoors, I invite you to take a moment to practice this Grounding Exercise. Invite calm into your experience and let nature’s embrace soothe you.

To practice the grounding technique, start by finding a peaceful spot in nature, preferably away from distractions. Begin with your sense of sight – observe the colors, shapes, sizes, and movements around you. Then, focus on your sense of sound – listen to the natural sounds, whether it’s the rustling of leaves or your child’s voice. Next, engage your sense of touch – feel the textures of the earth beneath your feet or the way the wind feels upon your face. Move on to your sense of smell – take in the scents of nature, the fresh air, and any subtle fragrances. Finally, involve your sense of taste – savor a sip of your favorite beverage and notice how it complements the experience. As you engage your senses, let go of distractions and worries, and immerse yourself fully in the present moment. It’s a simple yet powerful way to find peace and connection in the embrace of nature.

Teresa Urbina
Teresa, moved to San Antonio from her beloved El Paso in 2021, and brings the warm desert vibes wherever she goes. Her heart finds solace in the wild outdoors, be it amidst untamed wilderness, serene waters, or the embrace of Mother Nature herself. When she's not connecting with the elements, you'll find her channeling her creative self, crafting birthday decorations or for holiday celebrations. Teresa is a fierce mama to two energetic boys, born in 2020 and 2023, and she shares life's adventure with her husband, Alec. As a Perinatal Mental Health Therapist, she pours her heart into helping mothers find their strength and resilience. Catch her vibrant life snippets on Instagram, where she shares moments of bliss and insight. Beyond her therapeutic pursuits, Teresa finds joy in peaceful evenings on her patio, dancing in her kitchen with her littles, and going for runs. If you ever need restaurant recommendations, she'll point you to Chris Madrid's, and when it comes to landmarks, the San Fernando Cathedral holds a special place in her heart. But ask her about her favorite San Antonio tradition, and she'll wholeheartedly declare her love for Fiesta!