This month is Stress Awareness month, and I think we can all safely say that our lives have been affected by a fair amount of stress. When we feel this way, it feels like the ground beneath us is unstable. It’s difficult to find your footing when life is stressful.
When I think of what I have done for myself over the last year that truly lowered my stress, I think about all the times I was in my backyard in my bare feet touching the ground for at least 20 minutes. Really, it’s that simple.
Maybe I did this because I like being outside, maybe I did this to get a break from my house during quarantine. And maybe I did this because my body intuitively knew what I needed. I needed the warmth of the sun and the vitamin D, the sounds of the birds chirping, but most of all I needed to be connected to the earth.
There is actually a science to this need. It’s called “earthing” or “grounding”. It was discovered by a curious man who was a pioneer in the cable tv industry. He noticed there was a disconnect between how he did his work in the cable world and the way humans behave. He noted that cable wires have to be grounded to not pick up other electromagnetic interference and other environmental effects but recognized that with the development of the rubber soled shoe, humans themselves were no longer grounded. Rubber is not conductive, but our bodies are!
He began to wonder what would happen to humans health and well-being, were we to go back to being grounded and connected to the earth. We used to live this way, in connection with the healing electrical energy and microbes of the earth, but as we’ve become “more civilized” we’ve also become disconnected.
What he discovered is good news to us all. When we connect ourselves to the earth through ground therapy and earthing practice, our bodies heal: inflammation is lowered, pain, anxiety and stress are reduced and our sleep improves. The connection to the earth discharges excess electrical current built up in our bodies (in the cells we know it as free radicals) and we simultaneously absorb negatively-charged electrons from the earth. The earth is essentially a giant battery!
When I regularly implement my grounding practice, I become more aware of what is really stressing me. Here’s why:
You know that anxious feeling you get when you have a million thoughts and worries swirling through your head, that spiraling feeling of not enough time or too many unknowns? Well, when I go outside and put my feet on the ground, the first thing that happens is that my breathing becomes more deep, because I naturally want to inhale the fresh air. Then, my breathing slows down. The next thing I notice is what the ground feels like beneath me. Is it cold, wet, warm, soft, rocky, prickly?
Then, I begin to actually survey my surroundings. Is anything new blooming? What birds are out? Is the wind blowing in the trees and activating my windchimes? Before I know it, I’ve settled down a bit and I can begin to unravel some of the swirling thoughts in my head. I can think more clearly about what is a real issue I need to deal with right now, and what is a worry I have that has not happened. Will I be able to solve all of my problems or make all of the thoughts go away? No. But, I will be able to calm my mind and my nervous system so that I can see the forest, even amongst all of the trees.
Here is a grounding meditation that you can practice when you need to channel the energy of the forest. I find that even this is helpful to soothe your nervous system, because our intention is so very powerful.
close your eyes, put on an eye mask if you are easily distracted
Take several deep breaths until your breathing slows
Imagine that you are in your favorite forest type space sitting with your back against an enormous tree
Now, Imagine the light of the Sun warming the top of your head
It gets warmer and warmer and soon the light becomes liquid and pours down over your entire body
As it reaches your feet, your toes begin to grow tendrils that push down through all the layers of the earth
These tendrils of yours push through the greenery, then the soil, then cool clay, then rocky bits until we get all the way to the center of earth where the magma core of the earth contains that giant battery (for me, it looks like a giant quartz crystal)
Allow your tendrils to wrap around the core of the earth, pulling the beautiful healing electrons into yourself and all the way back up through all of the layers of the earth and back into your body, letting it be drawn in through the bottom of your feet and drawn into every cell of your body and the spaces between the cells.
Sit in this feeling, this healing warmth, this forest-y space you’ve created.
Stay here for as long as you want.
When you are ready, thank your forest space for its support, the earth for its healing energy and yourself for choosing a positive action.
If you cannot spend 30 minutes outside in a grounding practice, consider picking up an earthing device from Earthing.com
If you are really into the scientific research about it, like I am, you can read more in this journal article on the NIH site that was published back in 2012 Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth's Surface Electrons