We are bombarded and overstimulated. Regularly. And by so much that is artificial. Working long hours on a computer, watching tv, shopping in an enclosed mall, spending time under direct overhead artificial light…none of it does our bodies or minds any good. So, this journal entry is all about how to recalibrate in nature – making a profound connection with mother earth simply by removing our shoes and putting our feet on the ground.
Grounding or earthing refers to direct skin contact with the surface of the Earth, such as with bare feet or hands, or with various grounding systems. It reconnects us to the Earth’s healing energy.
We all have access to this most profound healing tool as nature provides it for us. But, as a society, we have lost and forgotten this in our bid to evolve ‘beyond nature’. It is primal and primitive. It is natural. It is one of nature’s greatest healing tricks. And it is free and accessible to all.
Thinking back, I can see that my natural impulse to ground myself lessened between childhood and adulthood.
I have always loved nature and grew up deeply immersed in and connected to nature. I remember running around barefoot in the garden and riding my horses as a child, but the idea of walking around barefoot has not occurred to me throughout most of my adult life save for those times when I am on a beach.
Yet this is so obvious and it feels good. But I did not connect that this is actually something that could be good for my body and my mind as an adult. I am relearning what is under my feet. And the simple act of putting my feet on the ground and walking bare foot gives so much back to my health, both mental and physical. It provides so much balance and so much healing.
Nature takes care of me when I put my feet on the ground. I equalise and still myself. The simplicity of this is profound as it reconnects me back to mother nature. I feel a humble part of our great planet.
So, here’s an in-depth look at why earthing, or grounding, is so important…
The science of earthing
We know that the sun provides us with warmth, light and vitamin D and that the Earth provides us with fresh air, water and food. We have recently relearned that when your bare feet touch the Earth’s surface your body takes up a natural and subtle energy.
This could be the difference between feeling good and not so good, of having only a little or a lot of energy, sleeping well or not so well, looking vibrant or looking tired.
When your bare feet or skin come into direct contact with the earth, free electrons are taken up into the body. These electrons can be referred to as nature’s antioxidants, they help to neutralise damaging excess free radicals that can lead to inflammation and disease in the body.
The Earth is a conductor or free electrons and so are all living things on the planet, including us. Our bodies are composed mostly of water and minerals which in combination are excellent conductors of electrons from the Earth – provided that there is direct skin contact or some other conductive channel for them to flow through.
Ways to be earthed:
- Walk barefoot
- Swim in the ocean or lakes
- Garden with bare hands
- Lay on the Earth
- Hug or lean up against a living tree
- Sleep on the earth while camping
- Wear natural-soled shoes instead of synthetic rubber/plastic shoes
Opportunities for earthing through biophilic design
Biophilia is humankind’s innate connection with nature. It helps explain why crashing waves captivate us and why we’re drawn to spend time outdoors and feel restored after doing so. By designing homes and spaces with it in mind we improve human health and our overall wellbeing.
People are drawn to nature, even unconsciously, and to natural environments such as the Lake District, Cornwall, the Scottish Islands. We love being in the woods, on the beach, next to lakes and rivers and up mountains, so these are the most popular places we choose to vacation in the UK.
In this way, we seek to immerse ourselves in the healing and restorative benefits of nature. Biophilia and biophilic design help us to replicate this at home and in the office, helping us observe and connect to living systems.
If walking barefoot on a daily basis is not possible or practical for you, design opens up a world of indoor products for earthing that are just as effective.
Various grounding systems are available that enable frequent contact with the Earth, such as while sleeping, sitting at a computer, or walking outdoors. These are simple conductive systems that are connected to the Earth via a cord inserted into a grounded wall socket or attached to a ground rod placed in the soil outside – for example, below a window.
Grounding shoes and wrist bands, pillows, sheets or mats, and footwear are just some of the products worth considering. You can easily set up indoor earthing products around the home or office and you will be able to use them, without much effort or any downtime, every day – such as while you sleep, while you watch TV, while you use your computer, and even while you meditate.
A history of earthing
Throughout history humans walked, sat and slept on the ground, cultivated their land with bare hands and spent a lot of time naturally grounded.
Sadly, we have become increasingly disconnected from nature by our modern lifestyle. The conductive leather-soled shoes of our ancestors have been replaced with insulated rubber and plastics. We sleep in beds and homes off the ground. Plastics, synthetic fabrics, asphalt, tar, carpets, vinyl have all been introduced and block natural connections.
To add to this, we are also bathed in a sea of unnatural man-made electronic radiation from household appliances, mobile phones, wi-fi, microwaves and cell towers, which bombard us continuously with excess free radical damage to our tissues and cells.
The Earth’s energy helps to knock these excess free radicals down so that your body can heal and repair naturally, as it is meant to. Therefore, to remain in good health, it is imperative that we re-connect with this natural energy daily to counteract the damaging effects of our modern lifestyle.
In the late 19th century, a back-to-nature movement in Germany claimed many health benefits from being barefoot outdoors, even in cold weather (Return to Nature: The True Natural Method of Healing and Living and The True Salvation of the Soul. New York, NY, USA: B. Lust; 1903).
In the 1920s, White, a medical doctor, investigated the practice of sleeping grounded after being informed by some individuals that they could not sleep properly “unless they were on the ground or connected to the ground in some way,” such as with copper wires attached to grounded-to-Earth water, gas, or radiator pipes. He reported improved sleeping using these techniques ( White G. The Finer Forces of Nature in Diagnosis and Therapy. Los Angeles, Calif, USA: Phillips Printing Company; 1929).
However, these ideas never caught on in mainstream society.
Mounting evidence suggests that the Earth’s negative potential can create a stable internal bioelectrical environment for the normal functioning of all body systems.
Moreover, oscillations of the intensity of the Earth’s potential may be important for setting the biological clocks regulating diurnal body rhythms, such as cortisol secretion (Oschman JL. Perspective: assume a spherical cow: the role of free or mobile electrons in bodywork, energetic and movement therapies. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. 2008;12(1):40–57).
Subjective reports that walking barefoot on the Earth enhances health and provides feelings of well-being can be found in the literature and practices of diverse cultures from around the world (Ober CA, Sinatra ST, Zucker M. Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? 2nd. Laguna Beach: Basic Health Publications; 2014).
For a variety of reasons, many individuals are reluctant to walk outside barefoot, unless they are on holiday at the beach. Experience and measurements show that sustained contact with the Earth yields sustained benefits.
Several Earthing pilot studies have very exciting implications. One, on the electrodynamics (zeta potential) of blood cells, indicates that Earthing significantly improves viscosity (blood thickness), inflammation, and flow.
There are clear indications that individuals with diabetes, who have inflamed blood and a high risk for cardiovascular disease, may benefit greatly from Earthing, both preventively and therapeutically. Testimony from both individuals and doctors, have told of improvements in circulation, blood pressure, arrhythmias, and neuropathy.
The study has been published by the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine and can be read online here: http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdf/10.1089/acm.2011.0820
Another study showed how Earthing contributes to a de-stressing and balancing effect on the nervous system, and as a result, on heart function.
This study, published in Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal, can be read online here: http://imjournal.com/pdfarticles/IMCJ10_3_p16_24chevalier.pdf
A review of all the Earthing research conducted to date can be found at the online website of the Journal of Environmental Health and Policy here: http://www.hindawi.com/journals/jeph/2012/291541/
Research suggests grounding may improve symptoms of…
- chronic fatigue
- anxiety and depression
- sleep disorders
- chronic pain
- cardiovascular health
And those who practise grounding may experience:
- reduced inflammation
- reduced cortisol
- increased energy
- increased healing speed
- decreased pain
- restored balance to the body
“Go and ground yourself; be connected each and every day. Go outdoors and take off your shoes, walk around barefoot and even put your hands in the soil. You will notice a difference. Pain and inflammation recede, you will still yourself, you will feel freer, and you will feel connected to mother earth.”
Further grounding inspiration
I highly recommend watching these two videos:
- What is Earthing?
2. The Earthing Movie.
A documentary that reveals the scientific phenomenon of how we can heal our bodies by doing the simplest thing that a person can do — standing barefoot on the earth. (You’ll need to register for a free WaterBear account to watch – it only takes a moment to do so).