Opposing ideas can be complementary; it all comes down to perspective. For example, the long dark days of winter are necessary to create the backdrop for the delight of Spring. Similarly, placing your feet on the earth can provide the foundation required to enable you to reach for the sky.
These early days of a new year always remind us to:
- Cultivate positive perspectives
- Recognize that we may need the dark to appreciate the light
- Find solid footing for the road ahead
Let's start with solid footing. Literally.
What Is Earthing?
Earthing refers to deepening our connection to the natural world by physically making contact with the Earth. Most of our days are spent communing with laptops, phones, cars and televisions. We largely live apart from the Earth and rarely even see it. Vacations allow us to get up close and personal, eco-tourism and eco-adventure let us revel in nature, but only for a week or two at a time.
Research shows that contact with the Earth helps to even out the electric current in our cells, balance pH, reduce inflammation, improve sleep, promote better blood flow and oxygenation, reduce stress, and alleviate pain. This means that the answers to some of our most prevalent problems are right under our feet!
How to Earth
There are loads of products available to help you get grounded (mats, sheets, shoes, etc.), but the best way is the simplest: walk barefoot outside. However, depending on where you live, this may be more complex, especially during the winter. Fortunately, there are inventive ways to get around this.
Activities like raking leaves, pruning plants, and playing in the snow confer some of the same benefits as walking on the Earth, especially if your hands are bare. In addition, planting an indoor garden, even if it consists of just a few plants, gets your hands in the dirt and can have the added bonus of helping purify the air in your home. Mow the yard, pick up leaves, make a snowball or gather pinecones; all of these connections with nature help recenter ourselves.
Blue spaces too offer significant benefits to our mental health. You can walk on the beach with your toes in the sand if you're lucky, but just spending time in or near blue spaces such as rivers and lakes boosts our emotional wellbeing. The sound of running or lapping water soothes us, takes us away from the everyday worries of our lives and reminds us of the larger universe. There are now charter outings in some coastal cities that take passengers our for "wellness checks," comprised of 60- or 90-minute cruises to look at the water and experience the rocking of the sea.
The point is to use whatever's accessible to you.
In addition, you add things into your routine like mud baths, Epsom salt soaks, and utilizing products with clay. The trick is to search for as many methods as possible to get down to earth in all its mineral-rich, equilibrium-promoting glory.
Some of the most significant problems humans face are a consequence of being disconnected from the planet that sustains us. This is just as true of ecological disasters stemming from pollution, excessive extraction, and shortsightedness as physical and mental diseases. In each case, the answer could be to reconnect.
There are many ways to reestablish our bond with ourselves, others, and the Earth. It can be as simple as walking barefoot, placing a hand on a tree, or pausing to take a few deep, mindful breaths when life feels like life is pushing us too hard.
It can also be more elaborate, like pondering our entwinement with the rest of life and understanding that everything we do has ripple effects. For example, making the conscious choice to consider the source, methods, and working conditions that produce what we buy and using this information to become aware consumers so we can tread more lightly and avoid crushing others.Our actions matter. Being grounded is a great place to start if we want to build healthier bodies and a healthier world. Solid foundations support enduring structures; the Earth is here to provide that for us. All we need to start the year strong is to remember where we came from, be mindful of where we’re going, and plant our feet firmly on the ground before taking our next step.