By Lynn Pax
“Get yourself grounded and you can navigate even the stormiest roads in peace.” Steve Goodier
We live in a nature-deficient society. It is estimated that we spend 93 percent of our day indoors. We live far above the earth in high-rises, wear synthetic clothing and plastic-soled shoes, and we cover recreational areas with plastic turf. Instead of understanding ourselves as part of nature, we undervalue its importance and insulate ourselves from it. Never before have we lived such unnatural lives.
We recognize that the sun provides life-giving energy, but so does the earth; like a giant battery it charges us with its animating life force. People who do not access this energy must rely on pharmaceuticals, caffeine, and willpower for energy. The lack of this vital energy results in cognitive disorders, depression, anxiety, and nonproductively. In contrast, being well-grounded means being fully present, cognizant, and balanced.
“Illnesses do not come upon us out of the blue. They are developed from small daily sins against nature. When enough sins have accumulated, illness will suddenly appear” (Hippocrates).
The practice of “grounding” or “earthing” is being discovered by science. Studies prove measurable physiological responses after spending time in nature: the immune system is strengthened and anxiety, inflammation, and pain are reduced. Japanese doctors now write prescriptions for “forest bathing” to build the immune system.
A basic grounding method is, while lying on the grass or sand, relax and follow your breath. Listen to the birds, the breeze, and people talking in the distance. Breathe in the smells of the earth. Look up and watch the clouds during the day or the stars at night. Feel the earth beneath you. If your mind gets stuck on any issues, follow your breath again and let any worry drain away.
“Power, is in the earth; it is in your relationship to the earth” (Winona LaDuke).
Part of my daily routine is going to the park. When it’s warm I walk barefoot on the grass (very grounding). Lying down, I place my feet and palms on the grass and imagine roots extending from them into the earth and strength coming up through these roots into me. I see the earth as the Great Mother, so feelings of gratitude well up. I allow all these feelings to wash over me. Then I send them back down into the earth. Gratitude itself is grounding.
Kudos to the Hudson River Park Trust for such a beautiful, thick, springy and inviting lawn—a dynamic, energetic, living green womb. (And also, for not using glyphosate-based herbicides.)
“Without nature humans are lost. That’s it” (Birutė Galdikas).
Natural areas enliven and feed the senses, so creativity is enhanced when we (especially children) are allowed time in nature. Previous generations spent a lot of time exploring the wonders of the natural world. But now we are so focused on what technology can bring us that we take nature for granted. We and our children, not fed by this vital life force, suffer from what has been termed “nature deficiency.”
Science has also discovered bacteria in soil that is a natural antidepressant. This is one reason that gardening is very grounding. Playing in “clean” dirt (getting dirty) is healing. Nature is “Eden” and we suffer by separating ourselves from it.