Link to original: http://sphynxcatvp.nocturna.org/articles/sc-groundcenter.html
"Now and again, it is necessary to seclude yourself among deep mountains and hidden valleys to restore your link to the source of life. Breathe in and let yourself soar to the ends of the universe; breathe out and bring the cosmos back inside. Next, breathe up all fecundity and vibrancy of the earth. Finally, blend the breath of heaven and the breath of earth with your own, becoming the Breath of Life itself."
-- Morihei Ueshiba, founder of Aikido
It is easy for anyone who is sensitive to get overloaded by excess or negative energy, or in the case of empaths, overwhelmed by energy that is highly charged with emotions that are not the empath's own emotions. Grounding is a basic technique used in most energy or magickal work that assists in shedding the the negative or excess energy and allows you to stabilize your own energy levels. There are many techniques for doing so, and not all of them are visual in nature.
Many magickal methods consider grounding (and centering) to be a prerequisite, in order for your mind and thought patterns to be as stable and calm as possible before beginning any energy-based Work. Even psivamps need to ground occasionally (even if it's not as often), to prevent that "disassociated" or "floaty" feeling one can get from skimming energy off large groups of people.
Consider the ebb and flow of the tide. When waves come to strike the shore, they crest and fall, creating a sound. your breath should follow the same pattern, absorbing the entire universe in your belly with each inhalation. Know that we all have access to four treasures: the energy of the sun and moon, the breath of heaven, the breath of earth, and the ebb and flow of the tide.
-- Morihei Ueshiba
Some say that your energy is "cleaned" of the negativity before you get it back, others say that you swap out old stuff and swap in new stuff that has no relation to the old. How you interpret it is up to you.
Some grounding methods have you use the chakra, or energy center, located at the base of the spine as the point to do the energy exchange. Others say to do this using your feet as the exit point (i.e., while standing) and others say to use your hands. I say, try whatever seems to work. Don't limit yourself to something that may not work for your energetic systems, feel free to experiment.
For the purposes of these steps, I will use the earth as a stable energy source. Feel free to substitute whatever you consider a more reachable stable source if "earth" doesn't feel right to you.
Relax. Unclench your muscles, and bring your attention to the "here and now".
Connect to the earth. Whether you visualize a silver cord, roots from your feet or whatever is up to you, as long as you connect with it.
In an energy-based form of an "oil change", send the negative or excess energy into the earth and, if necessary, exchange it for clean energy that has no negativity to it. You can cycle this a few times, or you can just do it once, whatever you feel is necessary.
An example can be like flushing water through a hose - good energy in one end, bad energy is flushed out the other end.
The key to good technique is to keep your hands, feet, and hips straight and centered. If you are centered, you can move freely. The physical center is your belly; if your mind is set there as well, you are assured of victory in any endeavor.
-- Morihei Ueshiba
Centering is a way to gain self-awareness and learning what parts of the energy surrounding you is yours. This allows you to pay attention to your personal energy center, sometimes called your spiritual center, and gather all of your energy in one place instead of leaving it scattered all over. This is an energy-based "pull yourself together" method. Think of it like finding the most defensible room in the castle, the place where, once you go there you can't be forced out.
Sit in a comfortable position and just breath in and out until you're relaxed. This isn't exactly a meditative or Zen-like state, just relaxed.
Mentally go through your body and imagine yourself. What part reminds you most of you? What part feels most strongly like "YOU"? That inner self is your personal center. It's location in your body may vary - For a lot of people, it's somewhere around the heart or gut regions, but it's not always the case.
Iron is full of impurities that weaken it; through forging, it becomes steel and is transformed into razor-sharp sword. Human beings develop in the same fashion.
-- Morihei Ueshiba
Once you have grounding and centered mastered, you have a firm base on which you can build shields. Many people learn shielding without stopping to building their personal base - they may not notice a problem in day-to-day living, but if they do any esoteric Work, they may find that having a stronger base upon which to build shields is imperative.
Shields can also work to keep your personal energy "spikes" from affecting others. Think of it less like battle armor, heavy and martial, and more like, a polite social gesture - like brushing your teeth or wearing deodorant. You may think your personal scent is nifty, but other people may not favor your morning breath or your stinky pit stench. It's the same thing with energy. Personal shields will prevent your energy from spiking out at people who may not want to interact with it.
I have more information on shielding techniques covered in other articles, to view them, just visit the Psi Defense page.
Ground yourself as described above.
Center yourself as described above.
Now construct your shields. If you've done it right, you should feel shield and center-point lock together, with the grounding point like a spike or anchor from you to your stable energy source. This should NOT feel like it's "draining" you in any way - you should feel recharged instead, and a proper shield should help reinforce your energy body, keep you healthy and well protected. Work on it until you've got it locked in; then, barring accident, you shouldn't have to reinforce your shielding save when you need to take it down for whatever you're doing, or bulk it up if you're working in dangerous areas.
Based on information from IRC discussions with the webmaster of Blood & Coffee.