Things happen in threes.  Have you experienced this?  My most recent threesome has been conversations on Grounding, aka Earthing.  Since this seems to be a trend that is on the rise yet again (it’s been known about for over 2000 years, and Nikola Tesla was a believer in its value), I thought I’d do a little more research into it and share my findings with you.

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I first encountered the concept of grounding about two or three years ago while working on a “Forest Bathing” program.  The two concepts sort of go hand-in-hand, in that they both deal with human connections with some aspect of the Earth, both have scientific support, and for most folks they are both a bit “out there.”

If one accepts that we are all energy, and that electricity is the powering force for this energy of life, then grounding makes complete sense.  If one is not on board with these concepts, however, then this is the stuff of science fiction.

The basic idea is this: in our lives, our bodies build up excess positive charges, known as free radicals, from natural processes, but also from the electromagnetic radiation of all the electrical stuff around us – cell phones, power lines, computers, televisions, radio signals, appliances, the wiring in your house.  Now, free radicals are not, in and of themselves, bad things.  Free radicals are a natural part of your body’s operation, and their job is to help combat things like bacteria and viruses.  However, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and when you get too many free radicals zooming about inside you, they can lead to health problems, such as inflammation and chronic disease (think heart disease and diabetes).

Meanwhile, the Earth has a surplus, or reservoir, of charged free electrons.  Electrons, if you remember from high school chemistry, carry a negative charge.  Apparently, when we touch the Earth with our bare skin (most commonly walking outside barefoot), these negatively charged free electrons are taken up by our bodies and cancel out the free radicals within us.  The result is a reduction of inflammation in the body, which leads to improved healing, reduction in stress (cortisol levels decrease), reduced hypertension, et al.  They say it even improves one’s sleep. 

If you look online, you can see videos of the blood moving in people’s vessels before and after grounding.  Before shots show blood cells are clumped together and moving sluggishly – this is known as having sticky cells.  After about 30 minutes of grounding, the blood cells are zipping right along solo – no more, or vastly reduced, clumping. 

The study that I find most fascinating deals with grounding and plants.  Scientists have taken regular plants (house plants, sunflowers) and have placed a grounding wire in one, while the other is left alone as the “control.”  The other end of the grounding wire is stuck in the ground.  Plants that are grounded grow faster and are more lush than the control.  Likewise, cut flowers last longer in a vase if they are grounded than those that are not.  It’s fascinating.

Up until the last 100 years or so, grounding happened naturally, for most people still had daily connections with the Earth, often through growing their food (gardening), but also when they walked outside.  It is said that the creation of the sneaker (rubber soles, which serve as insulators) was the first step in the decline of our connection with the Earth.  Industrialism runs a close second – people were outside a lot less.

Of course, this is hardly the time of year to promote running around barefoot outdoors (I’ve tried it…I don’t recommend it).  The good news, however, is that there are other options.  There are a variety of products out there that you can hook up to either the grounding wire of your house (via our outlets), or by running a wire out your window and into the ground.  Some are pads you can place under your computer keyboard, some are sheets and/or blankets you can put on your bed.  There are even bands you can wear around your wrist or ankle.  The key is that you have to have your bare skin touching the surface of the material (which eliminates the chair pad if you are in a multi-person office). 

Two summer ago, I put together a plan for a summer camp where we would encourage the campers to go barefoot.  It was going to be a bit of an experiment to see if there was a noticeable difference in how the campers felt and behaved.  Sadly, that camp never materialized, but I encourage you all to give it a try next summer.  I know that as a kid, I ran around barefoot much of the summer (much to my mother’s great dismay), and I spent three summers barefoot in the Adirondacks where I worked at a residential summer camp.  I don’t do it much anymore – my yard here is full of Norway spruce needles (not conducive to barefooting).  I may have to rectify that.

We are indeed creatures of this Earth, and it seems to me that we are connected in more ways than most of us can see or feel.  Wouldn’t it be interesting to see how different things would be if we all knew and acknowledged these connections.