When I was in the mountains of Peru on my recent vacation, little did I know that my laying around on the grass or meditating while sitting on huge rocks was actually “Earthing.”
Most people intuitively know that spending time in nature is good for you – it feels good, feels relaxing, helps us calm down. Native American and other indigenous cultures (like the Incans in Peru) have known forever that Mother Earth has healing energies and properties.
Now an emerging field of research called “Earthing Science” is showing how direct contact with the Earth can help with stress and anxiety reduction, sleep problems, and lots of physical health problems.
What is Earthing?
The simplest form of Earthing is to walk outside barefoot, or to sit or lay on the Earth. Conductive surfaces include sand, dirt, gravel, grass and concrete. Wood, vinyl, asphalt and painted concrete are not conductive.
Connecting to the Earth can also be achieved through man-made conductive materials. The goal is to allow electromagnetic connection to the Earth’s surface. Earthing tools for consumer use are rapidly being developed.
Earthing concepts are not new. We know that when working with electronics we need to prevent build-up of static electricity. This is often achieved with grounded electrical outlets, or grounded desk mats, shoes or wristbands. In operating rooms, patients are grounded to protect inner electrical workings of the body from outside electrical interference.
We’re Short on Earthing
Earthing researchers believe that lifestyle changes in that past 100 years (and especially since the 1960’s) have disconnected us from the natural healing and calming benefits of the Earth. Earthing researcher Clint Ober notes that “little more than 100 years ago, 90% of homes still had dirt floors.” Now, our rubber and plastic soled shoes, multi-story buildings, and indoor lifestyles keep us separated from the Earth.
Earthing, Stress and Cortisol
Cortisol is a stress hormone involved with chronic stress, anxiety, sleep problems and other health issues. A pilot study in 2004 showed that test subjects who slept on an Earthing mattress for 8 weeks had improvement in cortisol levels and reported better sleep and less stress.
A study last year suggested that Earthing may help balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Most of us in this busy day and age have an imbalance (“sympathetic dominance”) and most stress management treatments involve improving this balance.
Earthing research is new and is based on the understanding that all life on the planet functions electrically, and that our optimal functioning is dependent on an electrical connection with the ground.
You can check out Earthing research at The Earthing Institute
Better yet, maybe you want to try your own research. ‘Tis the season in Wisconsin for Earthing. You can experiment by connecting with the Earth on a regular basis…then pay attention to how you feel.