by Laura Koniver, MD: “Thirty minutes spent grounded and expressing yourself through visual arts is 30 minutes of fresh, pure creative energy flowing through your body and infusing your cells…
to flush old energy out and wash in new life, giving energy on a spiritual level! … A renewal of spirit.”
Take this in: The average American spends 95 percent of their life inside, according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; and per the Center for the Digital Future, we spend 24 hours per week online.
Now, more than ever, establishing a grounding practice can help improve your physical and emotional health. Grounding—or directly touching the Earth—is an antidote to the toxicity of modern indoor life, proven to reduce depression, lower blood pressure, and curb bad cholesterol. The Earth, always there for us, is a docking station, a port we can plug into to receive head-to-toe inside-and-out support for our wellbeing—to ground, regroup, and heal.
Tap into Mother Earth’s creativity boost when you ground through bare feet as you sit at a picnic table or in the cool shade, stand at an easel, or lean against a tree. Feel the deep centered creative life force of our planet rising up through your body and out through your expressive hands: finger paint, work with clay—have no goal in mind.
You don’t have to save or display what you create. In fact, it can be as simple as doodling in sand and letting the tide wash it away; coloring with sidewalk chalk and letting the rain take it away; painting your body with mud and washing it off with a hose; creating nature art by collecting found items in nature and arranging them in an eye-pleasing way (think stacking pebbles, arranging leaves in a spiral, creating a sunburst out of twigs, making a big heart out of shells, and so on).
This summer, aim to add a 30-minute weekly grounding practice. Think of it as a way to flush out old energy and wash in new life-giving energy. More than just nutrition, hydration, and oxygenation—this is a renewal of spirit.
Here are five ways to practice grounding.
1. In Early Morning Sunshine
Materials: A gently rousing alarm clock (if you need help rising with the sun)
Method: Set your alarm for sunrise. Rise; drink a big glass of water; and head outside for 10 minutes of greeting the world as the sun lights up the day.
Benefits: You can support your natural healthy energy rhythm by combining morning light on your face with grounding. Giving your body the clear signal it is daytime is absolutely crucial to feeling your best. Medical studies have shown light on your face can be even more effective than a prescription anti-depressant in treating depression. Morning light decreases muscle pain associated with fibromyalgia, treats insomnia, and more (think mood, energy, sleep, even your sex drive). Even one minute is beneficial—just get out there and do it all weeklong and see how your body responds. Try to allow this gentle routine to become a lifelong habit. This daily practice could very well transform your entire life.
2. Heart-Spotting in Nature
Materials: Bare feet (and camera, optional)
Method: Each season, go on a 30-minute grounded heart-spotting expedition and take notes or pictures of what treasures you find, and get a collection going.
Tip: Each season will reveal new gems to you; summer’s growth and blooms offer heartshaped leaves and flowers, and vacation time brings us chances to find seashells and river stones. Look for such heart-shaped treasures as knots in tree trunks, clouds, wads of gum stuck onto sidewalks, scrolls in iron garden gates, and other surprising delights.
3. A Barefoot Mindful Walk
Materials: Bare feet and a safe outdoor space to walk
Method: Simply walk mindfully and barefoot for 20 minutes and see what immediate and long-term benefits you notice. Mindful walking is simply a meditative experience of slow and careful steps with each in- and out-breath, clearing the mind and staying focused on the sensation of connection beneath your feet. As the Vietnamese monk Thích Nhât Hanh would say: “Kiss the ground with each step,” infusing it with gratitude and love.
Benefits: With each step you take grounded to the Earth, your muscles relax, muscle fatigue decreases, and muscle recovery improves, making you less sore the next day.
Tip: If your favorite form of movement keeps you up and off of the Earth—like an arduous hike or biking—then simply ground for 10 minutes before, during (on a break), and afterward. You don’t even have to take off your shoes. Sitting on a big boulder will ground you, as will simply touching a leaf on a tree. Touching a tree while you stand in its shade is a welcome rest stop in which to rehydrate before completing your workout.
4. Outdoor Yoga
Materials: Yoga mat or towel (optional)
Method: You can use a towel or yoga mat and still be grounded. Just make sure you allow a fingertip, toe, or heel to flow over the edge of your mat and touch the Earth directly.
Benefits: Many poses are particularly powerful energetically when done standing directly on the Earth, including Mountain, Tree, Warrior and Reverse Warrior, Triangle, Downward-Facing Dog, Pigeon, and Child’s Pose.
5. Summer Healing Meditation—Becoming the Sun
Materials: A place to lie down outside (and towel/blanket, optional)
Method: You can spread a towel or picnic blanket and simply slip a toe, heel, or fingertip over the edge to touch the Earth.
Tip: Remember, it takes only one cell in your body to touch the Earth, and your entire body is grounded. There is no need to lie completely on the Earth unless you want to.
Listen or Read: Lie down comfortably and listen to an audio recording, or read through this meditation:
Excerpted from The Earth Prescription:
The next ten minutes are yours to connect with the earth and become the sun. Give yourself a few moments to visualize your body accepting the profound grace of this healing contact. Close your eyes and softly take several deep, slow breaths.
Define an intention for this meditation, such as “To feel more at peace,” “To decrease my pain,” “To feel safer each day,” “To enjoy more energy,” or something else—whatever intention feels right for you, in this moment.
Take several more slow, deep breaths, and when you feel you have centered yourself in the moment, begin to visualize a bright warm light in the center of your chest, radiating from your heart. It’s a little ball of sunshine, a healing, loving light.
Now, with each breath you take, visualize this flowing light pouring slowly throughout every aspect of your body, from the inside out, radiating in all directions.
With every in-breath, feel it increase in energy and intensity, getting brighter and brighter.
With every out-breath, feel your sun radiate further and further outward, enveloping your entire body in a beautifully healing light.
Your heart is the center of this healing sunshine. Growing and growing…providing a gentle, pleasant sensation of being totally covered, from the inside out, with healing, loving light.
Just allow this moment. With each in-breath, feel your heart energy expanding and filling the ball of sunshine with love. With each out-breath, feel the warmth radiate out from your body in all directions.
In your mind’s eye, picture yourself. Picture your entire body, bathed in healing light…perfect in every way, just as it is. The sun, centered inside of you, full of love.
Feel the gratitude you have for your body for carrying your soul through this life, allowing you all the experiences you have in this lifetime, faithfully supporting you as you live in each moment.
Now picture your loved ones: children and family members and friends in your life, all the people who are positive relationships in your life—all are smiling warmly at you, surrounding you.
Continue to breathe in this bright, loving light, and bring each loved one forward in your mind’s eye, one at a time. As you breathe out, send this loving light from your heart directly into theirs, filling them with this love. See the healing light filling their heart space until it surrounds them completely, just as it did with you, igniting their own inner sunshine in their hearts.
Feel how sharing your heart with them did not diminish your light— rather, it strengthened it the sunny glow around and through you—and it strengthened their heart glow as well.
Be in this moment as much as you can. Feel gratitude for everyone beneficial in your life, and allow their now-illuminated, glowing presences to encircle you. You are completely surrounded with a ring of glowing, loving suns, all smiling at you from the center of their hearts. This connection mutually strengthens the sunlight radiating from all of you until it is a blinding and pervasive healing light that fills you with pure, positive energy.
There is nowhere you can go today that is not bathed in this healing light. Anything you do today, anywhere you go, and any person you see will be holding an intention of loving health, healing, and joy for you today because you took the time to set this energetic dynamic in motion through this meditation. You are all one in your goal for health, healing, and joy.