Have you been earthing recently? When was the last time you kicked off your shoes, pulled off your socks and walked barefoot? Can you remember the feeling of short, sweet-scented grass underfoot, or soft sand squidging up through your toes? What about in the garden? Do you enjoy working with plants and getting your hands into the dirt?
We talk a lot about grounding in discussions about healing, meditation and spirituality. We are encouraged to visualize roots leaving our body and traveling deep underground where a transfer of negative and positive energy can occur. Yet we ignore the literal meaning of connecting to the earth beneath our feet.
Some people have had no real connection to the ground for years and years. They live in homes with carpet and floors made from artificial materials, they lay down artifical grass in their yards and never, ever take their shoes off outdoors. They don’t garden because it is ‘dirty’ and their kids wear protective sandals on the beach.
It’s time for some re-education in the field of natural well-being. There is a healing modality gaining popularity, and that is the practice of ‘earthing’.
What is Earthing?
Earthing, is the simple act of walking barefoot, sitting or lying on the ground. It is based on the fact that the earth is negatively charged and has an abundant and never ending supply of negative ions. These particles have anti-oxidant effects and, when a person is in contact with them, they have a beneficial effect on the body. If the ground is damp then it is even more effective.
Who Discovered Earthing?
Earthing was never discovered. It was how we lived, even just a hundred or so years ago. Working the land was part of building a life, and only the rich could avoid it. Thousands of years ago, we all walked with only animal skins to protect our feet, and sitting, crawling and sleeping on the ground was quite normal.
More recently, a man called Clint Ober, formerly a cable TV engineer, had great success in helping the residents of Haines, Alaska to heal themselves of a multitude of ailments, including chronic pain and sleep apnea, by adopting the practice of earthing or grounding, as some refer to it. The people of Haines speak about earthing.
What are the Health Benefits of Earthing?
Proponents of earthing report that spending 30 – 40 minutes per day connected to the ground – grass, soil, or even concrete – can have beneficial effects on the body, such as:
Improvements in sleep patterns
Relief from pain and inflamation
Trigger the parasympathetic nervous system
Speed up wound healing
Normalize cortisol levels
Improve heart rate
Reduce blood viscosity
Their claims have been backed up by study by a team of researchers: Gaétan Chevalier et al. Their conclusion:
“Could such an intervention be located right beneath our feet? Earthing research, observations, and related theories raise an intriguing possibility about the Earth's surface electrons as an untapped health resource—the Earth as a “global treatment table.” Emerging evidence shows that contact with the Earth—whether being outside barefoot or indoors connected to grounded conductive systems—may be a simple, natural, and yet profoundly effective environmental strategy against chronic stress, ANS dysfunction, inflammation, pain, poor sleep, disturbed HRV, hypercoagulable blood, and many common health disorders, including cardiovascular disease. The research done to date supports the concept that grounding or earthing the human body may be an essential element in the health equation along with sunshine, clean air and water, nutritious food, and physical activity.” Journal of Environmental and Public Health
The Science of Earthing
Living the way we do, surrounded by electromagnetic fields (EMFs) produced by electrical appliances, wifi, cell phones, and so on, means that we carry a positive charge. This, in turn, causes a plethora of free radicals (unpaired electrons) to circulate around our bodies. Free radicals can cause disease because they are highly chemically reactive.
The earth is negatively charged, so by making contact with it, we can discharge static, reduce positive ions and increase free electrons.
You don’t need any special equipment to obtain the benefits of earthing. However, as many find improvements to their health occur by simply walking or sitting on the earth, they wish to speed up and maintain that earth connection. To this end there are now earthing mats and sheets that plug into the earth socket in electricity outlets. However, the emphasis should be on the fact that earthing is a simple and free activity and anyone can do it.
It’s important to understand that you have to make the connection to the earth itself. You cannot bring a bucket of sand or dirt into the house as the connection cannot be made. However if you have a basement or garage with a concrete floor and no damp-proof membrane below, you can earth yourself right there.
Clothing and Footwear
When possible walk barefoot or sit with your bare feet on the ground. Alternatively lie or sit directly on the ground. Clothing should be natural – cotton, linen or other natural fiber. You can wear shoes as long as they have leather or natural fiber soles. When earthing avoid any clothing or footwear that forms an insulating barier, such as acrylic, rubber or plastic.
When Not to Use Earthing
As more research is being conducted, there have been reports of adverse effects when earthing. This appears to happen when you try to earth in an area that is high in EMFs. Examples might be near an electricity sub-station or close to a cell tower. Grounding in these areas increases the flow of EMFs through the body, which negates any benefits and might increase problems. The advice is to practice earthing in a ‘clean environment’ away from any EMF interference.
Never practice earthing in a thunderstorm.
Earthing is Spiritual
Despite the science, earthing continues to be a spiritual practice. The very notion of connecting one’s body to the ground and at the same time exposing it to the energy of the sun is spiritually nourishing.
One of the good things about earthing is that you need no-one to help you with it. No trained ‘expert’, no books, no anything apart from the will to go outside and try it. Perhaps it is time, in this fast, technology dependent age we live in, to literally go back to our roots and reconnect with the planet we live on.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information: Journal of Environmental and Public Health, "Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth's Surface Electrons"