6 Ways to Get in Touch With Mother Earth

Our connection with the Earth is undeniable. We rely on Mother Earth for the air we breathe, the water we drink and the foods that keep us alive and well.

Sadly, however, modern life has made us increasingly disconnected from nature. We spend more hours inside buildings than outside them, and no matter where we are, our faces are glued to an ever growing number of screens: on our phones, our tablets and our computers, on our TVs and in theatres. Indeed, many urban dwellers might go weeks or even months without touching any part of the Earth.

People in urban centres have limited access to grassy areas, sandy beaches and forests. We don’t always have regular contact with natural bodies of water or even get to breathe clean fresh air. Even when in nature, the shoes we wear block direct contact with the ground. Many people don’t consume living foods regularly (that is, raw fruits and vegetables), and some have no idea how or where food is grown.

Given all this, it’s no wonder we’re not well! The modern comforts designed to make our lives easier, more efficient and seemingly happier are contributing to growing incidences of chronic stress, physical and emotional fatigue, anxiety and other mood disorders. Even when we’re with other people, we can feel increasingly isolated and disconnected. I wholeheartedly believe that our disconnection from the natural world is exacerbating these issues.

This is why the wellness practice of grounding, or what’s also called “earthing,” has become so vital. This involves any activity that helps us reconnect or “ground” to nature and the Earth. At its most fundamental, this means literally touching the Earth with our hands, feeling nature on our skin. It means walking barefoot in the grass and swimming in the ocean and feeling bark on our palms.

One theory behind the benefits of grounding is that the Earth is one giant antioxidant. When we come in contact with nature, our electrical frequencies sort of synchronize with the Earth’s, which helps our bodies fight free radicals, inflammation and disease. Since the 1990s, researchers have been studying the connection between the Earth’s electrical field and its effects on mood, physiology and overall health.

These studies have mostly focused on issues that affect millions of people—like pain, mood disorders and inflammation—and so far, most of the data is anecdotal. However, studies are increasingly showing that grounding benefits a variety of health concerns:

  • It reduces inflammation, especially the obvious signs of inflammation following injury, like redness, heat, swelling and loss of function.
  • It reduces pain, both its intensity and duration.
  • It improves energy in the morning and maintains normal levels throughout the day.
  • It improves sleep. Reports document people falling asleep faster and waking up fewer times throughout the night.
  • It decreases stress, in part by reducing the stress hormone cortisol, regulating heart rate and normalizing muscle tension.
  • It improves mood, even with limited exposure of grounding for only an hour.
  • It increases blood flow. Grounding promotes blood regulation and circulation, positively affecting the look and feel of the skin in the face and extremities.
  • It increases metabolic rate, which allows people to utilize the nutrients from food, to metabolize fats and toxins, and to maintain their weight at healthy levels.
  • It reduces symptoms of PMS, hot flashes, and other types of menstrual and menopausal discomfort.
  • It has anti-aging effects. Grounding repairs free radical damage and oxidative stress, which can aid tissue repair and reduce the appearance of fine lines and sagging skin.

Reclaiming grounding


Our ancestors walked around with bare feet, slept on the ground, hunted, gathered and were constantly exposed to water, air, earth and sun, and from what we know, they regarded all beings, including humans, as interconnected.

Most of the world’s cultures share similar beliefs. Even just a couple of generations ago, people spent much more time outdoors and in direct contact with nature. In fact, it’s so well-documented how much more connected with nature people once were that I’ll keep this overview brief.

The ancient Chinese developed the concept of qi (pronounced “chee”), which names the life force that connects humans with the Earth. Just as qi affects bodies of water, the tide, the weather and more, so qi affects our bodies, our circulation and our energy flow. Balancing qi is therefore one of the ways people can resolve physical and emotional imbalances.

Indigenous peoples of Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas all communed with and honoured the land and all beings. Safeguarding the land and life was an integral part of their spiritual beliefs and ritualistic systems. Nature wasn’t something to exploit but was conceptualized as Mother Earth, the spiritual and literal source of all life and sustenance. They understood that nature is both powerful and vulnerable, and they constantly navigated the delicate balance between giving and taking. Most cultures made it a central goal to maintain their balanced, symbiotic relationship with Mother Earth, who both gives and takes life.

We don’t need experts and scientific research to confirm that getting back in touch with the Earth is a requisite. We know from our own experience how refreshing and important nature is. We feel it after a day at the beach or breathing fresh air during a nature walk.

If grounding feels somehow like we’re going back to our roots, it’s because we are. Reclaiming our physical and emotional connection to the Earth is not only important to help us reclaim our state of wellness, but it’s critical to help us reconnect with our own humanity and help preserve the world that sustains us.

Humanity’s impact on the world


Modern human life has been increasingly and negatively affecting the natural world for more than 300 years. And we’ve reached the point where we can’t simply talk about it. We must make daily choices that heal, support and reconnect us to the natural world. Mother Earth isn’t well. She’s sick and struggling to survive, and since we depend on her for our own well-being, that means we’re impacted as well.

Today, we know what we need to do. We know how to help heal and reconnect with nature. But we must make the commitment to do so. We must each agree to do our part for the benefit of all sentient beings or else nature will continue declining and making life harder for future generations.

Of course, what I’m referring to is global warming and climate change. While I don’t have the room to detail the countless studies showing the devastating effects of human impacts and excessive fossil fuel use on the environment, I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss the devastating health consequences that this is having on us, especially in poor communities and developing nations around the world.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that climate change is responsible for the deaths of 150,000 people per year and that number may double in less than a decade. Sadder still, the people most severely impacted by global warming tend to be those living in countries that contribute the least to the problem. So what the richest countries do, those that contribute the most to global warming, impacts the health of our fellow brothers and sisters in every corner of the world.

What happens in India and Africa can affect Brazil and Canada. What happens in the United States can impact Colombia and Morocco. That’s how interconnected we are.

However, no one is immune to the health effects of climate change. We have only one planet. Here are some of the most common climate change-related threats to our health and well-being:

Infectious diseases

High temperatures, habitat loss and deforestation can lead to increased populations of insects like mosquitoes, which carry diseases like malaria, dengue fever and Legionnaires’ disease, a bacterial lung infection. An outbreak of this disease occurred in the United Kingdom in 2006 that scientists attributed to global warming.

Heatstroke

Greenhouse gas emissions—excessive gasses, created by a variety of human activities, that get trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere, causing the weather to become hotter—increase the likelihood of heat waves, which in turn increase the risk of heatstroke. This condition can be fatal, even in otherwise healthy people, but the very old, the very young and the health-compromised are especially vulnerable.

Respiratory diseases

When the weather gets really warm, our hearts must work a little harder to keep our bodies cool. If someone also struggles with respiratory conditions like allergies or asthma, they can be even more at risk for serious health issues. In addition, hot temperatures increase the concentration of ozone in the atmosphere, which can damage lung tissue and lead to serious health risks for people with respiratory conditions.

Stress-related disorders

Mental illness is one of the main causes of pain and suffering in the developed world. The extreme effects of climate change can exacerbate stress disorder symptoms for people with existing mental health issues, but it can also affect those without pre-existing issues. This is especially true immediately following a natural or human-created disaster.

Pollution

While not a specific health condition, increased pollution due to human impacts is indeed a major health threat to all. Not even the healthiest, richest nations can escape the impacts of polluted air, water and soil and of overfishing, deforestation and cattle ranching. As pesticides, chemicals and toxins become absorbed into nature, they inevitably get into human bloodstreams and can lead to the development of dozens of preventable diseases.

6 grounding practices to take up


Person walking barefoot on grass

Whether these practices are called grounding, earthing or simply reconnecting with nature, they accomplish the same thing. Most share an essential element: physically touching or making contact with the natural world.

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This is an underrated but critical component of wellness: Allowing our bodies to physically connect with nature fosters emotional connection. We must all fall in love (or fall back in love) with Mother Earth, which will inspire more deliberate efforts to protect her.

Walk barefoot

This is as simple as it sounds. In a yard or park, it doesn’t get easier than taking your shoes off and walking around barefoot for 20 to 30 minutes each day. If you live in a city, find a suitable park or green space nearby. If the area is small, you can sit, take your shoes off and simply allow your feet to touch the Earth without walking.

Let your feet get dirty; squish your toes in the mud. If it’s warm, wear shorts and a T-shirt and let as much of your naked skin feel the Earth, wind and weather as you can. If it’s cold, still go barefoot. Walk in the snow for as long as you can handle without jeopardizing your extremities.

Lie down

The more skin that gets in touch with the natural world, the better. Get as naked as possible, or as much as you feel comfortable and is legal, and lie down on the grass or on a sandy beach. Warm sand is a fantastic conduit for the electrical charges from the Earth. Bury yourself in the sand up to your neck, then clean yourself off by swimming in the ocean.

Submerge in water

Speaking of water, swimming is another awesome way to connect and ground with nature—whether in the ocean, a lake or a river. According to experts, submerging in natural bodies of water is just as effective for grounding purposes, though swimming in concrete or plastic, chlorinated pools isn’t. If you can handle cold water, swim outdoors for as much of the year as you can stand.

Practice forest bathing

This wellness technique was originally developed in Japan. Forest bathing involves spending quiet, meditative time in a forest, taking in the atmosphere and surroundings with all your senses. People sit, lie down, touch and interact with the flora, meditate, smell, look and otherwise use their entire being to become one with the forest. I’ve tried it, and the effect is similar to those of other forms of grounding.

Garden

Don’t have a green thumb? Don’t have space where you live for an outdoor garden? Doesn’t matter. As somebody with the worst green thumb ever who practiced this while living in a tiny New York City apartment, I can tell you that buying a couple of little pots, some soil and baby plants, and connecting with them for a minute or two a couple of times per day can be highly satisfying. It’s one way to reconnect with the Earth even in an urban world.

Use grounding equipment

Grounding equipment is an indirect way to ground yourself, but in my experience, it is neither as satisfying nor as effective as direct contact with nature. However, it’s very popular in some wellness circles, and you might find it useful. It requires buying and using special equipment like grounding mats, sheets, blankets, socks, skin patches and bands.

Manufacturers and sellers swear by their products, which promise to help you recharge in the same way as other grounding activities. Personally, I’d only use these as a last resort if being in nature is difficult in your situation.

Medical disclaimer: This page is for educational and informational purposes only and may not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended to replace medical advice offered by physicians. Please refer to the full text of our medical disclaimer.

Jovanka Ciares is the author of Reclaiming Wellness and several other titles. A certified wellness expert, integrative herbalist, nutrition educator and coach, she offers lectures and workshops in Spanish and English. Visit her online at www.jovankaciares.com.

Excerpted from the book Reclaiming Wellness: Ancient Wisdom for Your Healthy, Happy, and Beautiful Life. Copyright ©2022 by Jovanka Ciares. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

Front cover of Reclaiming Wellness

images: Depositphotos

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