Now that spring has gone and summer is here, my family is finally able to lounge in our backyard once again, which is a favorite past time for us. Thanks to the amazing green thumb of the woman who owned our house before us, we inherited a backyard that is the envy of the neighborhood. With a wonderful assortment of plant life including lots of green grass, all varieties of beautiful flowering plants and bushes, a peach tree, several pine trees, lots of ivy, a strawberry patch and an incredible weeping pine tree that provides shade to a koi pond with a heavenly waterfall feature. Obviously, the backyard was the selling point for us when we bought the house and we eagerly look forward to the lazy summer days and the warm nights spent surrounded by its beauty.
Over the last couple of weeks we have been spending a lot of time in our yard pulling the remnants of the weeds that sprouted during the Spring rains and trimming down overgrown bushes and just generally enjoying the space. Every year we notice a trend with our neighbors (the four that we share a fence with). As soon as we get the waterfall feature turned back on they all begin spending a good deal of time outside in their own backyards in their lawn chairs that all seem to be strategically placed along the shared fence line. My wife noticed that they seem to be listening to the waterfall, which has about a 3-foot drop into the pond below so it is easily heard. It is nothing extravagant but the sound it makes is quite soothing. Sometimes after feeding the koi, I find myself hypnotized by them as they swim up to gulp or otherwise explore their area of the world. They are fun to watch and there is something rejuvenating about being in our little nature filled oasis.
This had me thinking about the effects of nature on the human spirit. I know I am not the only one who experiences this. My wife says she does, my kids certainly do and it appears that all of my neighbors do as well. I remember as a teenager living in the city, I would go on nature hikes with my dad and I always came back from those in a better mood.
It turns out that scientists have wondered the same thing. Without getting into all the technical details (you can here and here), there are studies that have proven that we tend to heal faster when we get so much as a glimpse of nature. I believe we were designed to have a symbiotic relationship with nature because when we are removed from it for a long time depression sets in. In fact, because we wear socks and rubber soled shoes and walk mostly on sidewalks we are not staying as grounded as we were naturally designed be (see this and this). There is even something called “Earthing”.
If you’ve ever sat down on a sandy beach or walked barefoot across your front lawn, you’ve tried it. And, according to some, it might just be good for your health.
According to Clint Ober in his book, Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever! Earthing is the
practice of obtaining the healing properties of the Earth through the simple act of touching it.
Dr. Laura Koniver, M.D., a general practitioner in Summerville, S.C. observes that earthing is a “symbiotic thing” and there is sound reasoning behind it. She argues that if we can get our vitamin D from the sun and our oxygen from the trees, we too can get healing electrons from the ground. In Dr. Koniver’s words, “We are meant to build up free radicals and inflammation by the way we live our lives, and the Earth is our docking base.” Koniver even suggests that earthing can go a long way in helping with a wide range of health problems, including arthritis, stress, sleeping disorders, depression and even menopause.
According to The Earthing Institute, “Earthing is the landmark discovery that the disconnect may make us more vulnerable to stress and illness. Contact with the Earth appears to uphold the electrical stability of our bodies and serve as a foundation for vitality and health.” And, “grounding ourselves by reconnecting with the Earth beneath our very feet provides a way back to better health.”
The great thing about “Earthing” or “Grounding” as it is also called, is that it can be done anywhere and it is free! To get started just take off your shoes and sink your feet into the dirt or the grass and take a deep breath as the electron transfer begins. So where should you go to practice earthing and how long should you do it? Anywhere there is healthy grass growing over a layer of soil and there is no circumstance in which you can spend too much time earthing, according to Koniver. At minimum she suggests trying to spend at least 10 minutes a day connected to the earth.
So the next time the kids are out playing in the backyard or your lunch break rolls around, maybe it is the perfect excuse for a barefoot stroll through the grass or a picnic and a good book while sinking your feet into the dirt for your own healing electron transfer session… for free!