Can you quantify how much time you spent as a child playing outside with bare feet? For me, the time seems endless, and I can close my eyes and still remember that glorious feeling as cool grass wove between my toes, offering the perfect foil to the sun warming my face.
Yet, as we grow and become adults, the amount of time we spend with bare feet connected to earth begins to shrink. Donning shoes or flip flops becomes second nature, and we slowly forget that feeling of joy that comes from spending time outdoors sans shoes.
We lose that connection.
But that loss doesn’t have to be permanent. Through the practice of grounding—or earthing—it is possible to reconnect with the earth. And, as the medical community slowly catches up with what our bodies have been telling us for centuries, more medical experts are acknowledging the fact that grounding plays an important role in our overall health.
What is grounding?
Everything on earth that is composed of atoms (which is…well, everything) carries an electric charge that is positive, negative, or neutral. If you’ve ever shuffled your feet over a carpet then grabbed a metal doorknob and received a little shock, you’ve experienced the zingy transfer of electrons from your body to the metal.
We are electrical creatures living in an electrical world, and those charges are constantly moving through us. Unfortunately, the transfer occurs less frequently than it did when we lived in closer connection with the earth—regularly walking barefoot and sleeping directly on the ground. These days, we’re almost always wearing shoes and enjoying our supremely comfy, elevated beds. As a result, the charge in our bodies becomes unbalanced and can negatively affect our health.
Grounding, then, is the intentional practice of engaging in activities that root, or ground, you electrically to the earth.
Benefits of grounding
The concept of grounding is relatively new, and the medical community is slowly realizing the importance of the practice. Recent studies have found:
- Grounding the body during sleep can reduce nighttime cortisol levels and align the body with natural circadian rhythms. Not only is sleep improved, but participants report reductions in pain and stress.
- The negative charge of the earth acts as an antioxidant, neutralizing free radicals that can cause inflammation and various types of cancer.
- Grounding increases the surface charge on red blood cells, reducing blood viscosity and the risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event.
The easiest way to experience grounding is by placing bare feet…or hands…on the ground, dirt, or sand for an extended period. Most experts recommend a minimum of 30 minutes for maximum effects. If you have a backyard, head outside and lay in the grass, or sit in a chair with your feet firmly against the earth. Enjoy an outdoor yoga session.
We happen to make a lovely product specifically for maximizing your grounding experience. Our Roots Natural Wildcrafted Grounding Body Oil is a carefully crafted blend of oils and herbs to heighten your grounding experience and nourish your body, inside and out.
Made with Pedicularis, an herb heralded for its musculoskeletal relaxation properties, and harvested high in the mountains, this grounding oil brings the body into a gently relaxed state.
Pedicularis is particularly wonderful for those struggling with anxiety and, when combined with a regular grounding practice, can help ease the symptoms. It is through grounding that we reconnect to the earth and balance excess air qualities. By incorporating grounding oil into your practice, you’ll create a powerful realignment with the earth.
As you root yourself and reconnect to the earth, find a tree and take hold. Allow your hands to explore the bark and the beauty of its’ texture. As you feel your mood lifting, know it is no accident—trees are rife with very dense earth energy as their roots dive deep into the soil. Connecting to trees releases oxytocin in the brain and can have a profound impact on mood and internal wellness.
You can also take your grounding practice indoors by indulging in a restorative salt bath. Adding 1 – 2 cups of natural sea or Epsom salt to your bath water aids in pathway detoxification and muscle relaxation. Try to soak for a minimum of 20 minutes to achieve maximum benefits.
And don’t forget about the food you put into your body. Every food source has its own unique energy properties and can affect our bodies in negative or positive ways. How we choose to nourish our bodies and the foods we choose to eat can affect our overall sense of groundedness. Avoid foods that are light, airy, and cold—smoothies, granola, popcorn—as an excess of such foods can contribute to feelings of instability and anxiety. Instead, reach for foods that are warm, comforting, and made from ingredients close to the earth—root vegetables, warm carrots, potatoes, soups, stews, kitchari. Such foods can return us to our bodies and ground us.
I encourage you to use the great outdoors for your grounding sessions. It is the most natural version of the process—the way the earth intended it.
After all, we are part of the earth.
We are of the earth.
Our connectedness to each other cannot be argued or denied. How marvelous it is to recapture those magical moments of childhood, to once again sit in stillness upon the earth, to envision the invisible pathway as electrons come and go…ebb and flow…from the earth into us.
And, if this experience is new to you, if you never had the joy rooting yourself to the earth during childhood, I invite you to try it today. The earth, she is still there, waiting for you. And that child, is still there, too, safely tucked inside of you.
Perhaps it’s time to introduce them to one other.