Connect to the Earth Through Grounding

July 5, 2019

Grounding, sometimes called earthing, is a mindfulness practice of connecting to the world we live in and focusing on the interaction between humans, health, and the environment. Everything that is tangible on the earth is matter, composed of molecules, that can break down further to atoms and more into electrons. The surface of planet is electrically conductive but too much of what we do separated us from the Earth’s electrons, like shoes always on our feet with rubber or plastic between us and the Earth. In the early times up to the 20th century, soles of shoes were made with natural leather, still bringing a connection with the planet, but we have lost that in modern times.

Grounding is all about reconnecting to the electrons of the Earth to have a better connection with the world we live in. We have grown so accustomed to always having shoes on our feet, sometimes even while in our own homes. I will admit that I do love my array of slippers (including my well-loved killer rabbit slippers!) while at home, and while working, many places do not allow for bare feet, especially health care facilities. For about 10 years now I have participated in TOMS One Day Without Shoes, easier in college because the concept was understood by my professors, but limited to a few hours in recent years based on work locations. Put simply, this is an event held around the 10th of May annually where you go without shoes for a whole day. Sponsored by TOMS, it is to raise awareness for the little things we take for granted living in a first world country, but it also was part of my introduction to the importance of grounding and feeling the ground beneath my feet. This includes the hard/rocky ground and gravel, not just the soft grass and warm sand, although those are some of my favorite places to ground!

Many benefits have been found through scientific research in the area of grounding, including looking into sleep, stress, pain and cortisol levels. While most scientific studies have been preformed with sleep studies and earthing conductive mats, the concept still stands for eliminating the free-radicals from the surrounding environment with the connection to our planet and reducing inflammation in the body. The increase of cortisol levels and creating the production of antioxidants for pain and stress levels all occurs with a simple connection to the Earth, and what can be more mindful than that kind of connection to the now?

How to Start Grounding

The best thing about this practice is it could not be easier, just walk outside and kick off your shoes! Walk anywhere outside without distractions and really pay attention to where you feet are. There are many varying surfaces of the Earth to explore, so connect with as many as you can. Sidewalks, gravel, sand, dirt, grass; the possibilities are all around you…but you have to go outside to find them. There is no recommended time limit or restrictions, just get out there and connect to the world we live in. Use this time to reflect within yourself and experience the world around you in a type of meditation. My personal favorite form of grounding is a weekly beach walk I take every weekend, parking two blocks away from the beach and leaving our shoes in the car so we get every texture beneath our feet in our hour excursion!

Based on the studies that were mostly done with sleeping, think about if you have ever been camping. While not as comfortable as your bed at home, the connection to the world around you, the smells, the sounds, is incomparable. If camping is not you cup of tea, even just relaxing outside, laying on the grass with a good book can assist with producing all those calming hormones within you.

Earthing Implications for Therapeutic Benefits

Now understanding how you can incorporate grounding in your life, you can begin to share with family members as well! In the world of occupational therapy, I have been encountering information for years about the impact of grounding for kids, specifically those with Autism and ADHD. The benefits are not only for adult, but can impact all individuals across the board if we let grounding have a chance.

“Earthing is not a cure for autism, but over the years it’s been seen to have a calming effect, improve sleep patterns, and promote better speech and socializing. Reducing the impact of autism on a child in this natural and simple way simultaneously lessens the stress level in the whole family. Earthing opens a door of hope.” – Earthing Vitality

Give grounding a chance in your mindfulness practice for you connection to the here and now, appreciating all that this world has to give us!

About Alli

Alli Carbone, MS, OTR/L, CCYT, is a pediatric occupational therapist that specializes in using yoga for sensory processing skills and education for the whole family.