You may have heard about “grounding” before and dismissed it as some kind of “new age” hokum or perhaps a fad meditation. Many of you may not have ever heard about it at all, and that’s okay.
There’s many different ways to perform a grounding, and a sea of information to get swallowed up in. Let’s try to dispel some of the myths, cut through all the excess info, and break down exactly how you can easily ground yourself without having to enlist the help of a shaman or read a six-hundred page tome.
Our Connection to the Earth
Think about this for a second: for millions upon millions of years, land animals have lived and evolved walking on the surface of the earth.
This is not something we typically think about, it’s sort of one of those “duh” facts. Like, of course animals walk on the ground. What’s the point in thinking about that?
Well, we know that all animals are fine-tuned biological “machines” that have developed a wide range of skills and functions, some overt, others subtle, that allow them to better exist and thrive. But all land animals share a few common denominators, because the circumstances of their existence are the same.
We all breathe air, we all see the world around us with some kind of eye structure, and we all tread upon the bare earth.
Well, all but one.
For several millennia now, human beings have found ways to remove themselves from the web of life, and nowhere is this more stark than the lack of walking outside barefoot.
Save for the rare trip to the beach, or maybe when you are a kid playing around in your backyard, our feet (and hands) are relegated to touching nothing but artificial structures and substances that are not a part of the bare earth our entire lives.
Common sense would tell you that as we evolved and lived on the planet’s surface for thousands upon thousands, millions upon millions of years, we did so while developing a symbiotic relationship, as do all creatures, with the planet itself.
This manifests in many different ways, but perhaps one of the most subtle is our most primal sense, touch. Animals take it for granted that they are always directly connected to the balancing energies of the planet, and naturally ground themselves throughout the day. The act of touching the planet’s surface is enough to maintain your body at the same negatively charged electrical charge as the Earth itself. It sounds simple, but it’s one of the most potent detoxification and healing practices yet discovered.
Grounding is used to relieve inflammation, reduce stress, balance mood, cure insomnia, and even stimulate the metabolism. It sounds simple, even stupid, but if you think about how life on this planet was honed over time to work in concert with the Earth, you would see that physical connection to the planet itself might be important, if not essential.
Our Electromagnetic Roots
When you talk about health in this context, energy should come into the picture. Specifically, electromagnetic energy.
Think of yourself as a tree, soaking up the positively and negatively charged ions from the air around you. This is what animals and all life forms do naturally – absorb energy and process it on a subtle level.
The exchange of electromagnetic energy is at the foundation of all activity and life on the planet. We can’t escape it. Thus, it’s easy to see how the balancing of this energy comes into play when we talk about health. To put it simply: too much positively charged electromagnetic energy is bad for us, as it deteriorates the body.
That is perhaps an oversimplified way of saying it, but you get the idea. The goal, in other words, is to absorb negative ions. But how do we get them?
Well, do you know that calm aura you feel outside after a rain storm? Or the similarly soothing feeling of being on the beach? That is when the air is full of negatively charged ions, which is what balances our energy on the physical electromagnetic spectrum. In other words, this energy feeds our body, heals it, makes it stronger. Put another way, it shifts our energy closer to that of the Earth’s surface.
The easiest way to get negative ions is to place your palms on the trunk of a tree – plants are often wellsprings of positive energy. And of course, the primary method animals use to maintain their proper balance with the Earth is simply by continuously touching its surface with their feet. Our limbs are like our roots, and we use them to “transfer” energy (and water, toxins, etc.). Again, if you stop to think about it, this is common sense.
The Earth itself is the foundation of life on this planet, and everything springs forth from it. From day one, life evolved alongside and “in” the Earth, encapsulated in its electromagnetic field. As animals became more complex, they always remained “rooted” in the Earth, i.e. touching its surface with their bare limbs.
This simple practice, which is just every day life for most animals, acts as a gentle way to help balance energy. It’s not some kind of “miracle” cure or ancient ritual or something. It’s just animals doing animal things. You know, like what we’re supposed to be doing but don’t because we have built our society so far outside of the web of life that walking barefoot on the Earth is seen as unnecessary, dirty, or even dangerous.
How to Ground Yourself Effectively
To perform a basic grounding, find a place outside where you can be at peace, and don’t mind being barefoot.
This is essential, as the direct contact with the Earth greatly facilitates this process. You should get in the habit of walking around outside barefoot more often in general, simply because it is such a strong practice in mindfulness. It kind of brings one’s awareness to the moment, and forces you to be more conscious of where you plant your feet, how you walk, the sensations you feel with each step, as well as your reason for walking in the first place.
To engage in the grounding, stand still upon the ground with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart, with your arms held loosely at your sides. Relax your muscles and try not to think of anything in particular, save perhaps for the air hitting your face or the scent of the foliage around you.
Once you are comfortable, begin breathing slowly and methodically through your nose. Deep breathing with your diaphragm, which should cause your entire chest cavity to rise.
Become comfortable with this deep, rhythmic breathing. Do not let your mind stray far, but acknowledge the natural ambience around you, and center your focus on your breath. If you feel your mind wandering too far, just bring you attention back to your breath, always.
After a few minutes of this, begin visualizing that with every breath, you are absorbing white energy from the earth, into your body through your feet. See this energy coursing through you, filling you, strengthening you.
This is simply a means by which we tell our subconscious it’s time to connect. One other visualization method which works quite well, is to visual actual roots extending from your feet and digging deep into the ground. Once you are “rooted,” see in your mind’s eye the energy of the Earth being sucked up through these roots and into your body. This simple imaginary cue can be quite powerful.
You will find that after a few minutes of this you will feel a great peace, and perhaps warm. Other sensations, such as your hairs standing on end, butterflies in the stomach, or even lightheadedness, are also common. This is all normal, and expected, so don’t let any of these sensations interrupt your grounding session.
You can ground yourself for varying lengths of time, depending on your need to return to balance. If you are feeling particularly out of sorts, you may want to spend ten minutes or more in this state, breathing rhythmically and envisioning energy filling you. Regardless of the time spent performing the grounding, you may end it the same way, simply by visualizing that the excess energy you have absorbed exits through your exhaled breaths, or through your “roots.” Both methods of visualization work fine.
Why does this work? You may be asking.
If you are not already versed in visualization, meditation, and the energies at play around us, I highly recommend reading our meditation resource here. The most important aspect of any grounding session is to remember that it is meant to foster a connection between you and the Earth’s electromagnetic field. Experiment with various forms of meditation and visualization to get the most out of your grounding sessions.
When in doubt, just run around barefoot outside! Our animal ancestors grew up over millions of years doing this, so it’s built in to our DNA to require this earthly connection.