Mmmmm, Walking Barefoot Feels Good
In the past, on some rare occasions, I would take off my shoes while walking in the woods. At first, an intuitive tingle in my feet would prompt me. Then, I would slowly and carefully walk up a hiking trail, maybe for a quarter mile, feeling the dirt and the shapes of the stones, beneath my feet, being careful not to step on a protruding sticks or rocks, that might hurt my feet. This complete absorption of my attention, as to where I placed my feet, would make me more present and grounded. The end result was a deeper connection to the woods around me and the earth beneath me.
Recently, I read two articles on earthing, which is the practice of walking barefoot on the Earth for scientifically proven health benefits. As a result, I started playing with walking barefoot again. Keep in my mind that I live in NYC (Brooklyn, NY, to be exact), so I don’t quite have the luxury of a backyard to play barefoot in. As my first experiment with earthing, I sat on a bench at a community garden and then planted my feet on a bare slab of stone warmed by the sun and felt the warm tingles of magnetic energy float up my feet. Ahhhhh.
Then, the other day I walked barefoot, for a little bit, in the park. Now, mind you, I was a little anxious about it. I was afraid of stepping on bugs, dog poop, garbage, you name it. I don’t know if this is my city conditioning or if country folk would feel the same way. But, yet again, I felt that flow of energy, once my shoes were removed. It was actually, kind of, subtly incredible. With my shoes on, the sensations of the Earth are muted out. Of course, the Earth has a force field, that we can feel with or without shoes on, if we pay special meditative attention. But, with bare feet, suddenly, that connection felt immediate and direct. No separation any more. The bottoms of my feet became alive and my nerves awakened as they sensed the grass and the texture of the ground beneath me.
The Science of Earthing
Going deeper, earthing (or sometimes referred to as grounding) is about the flow of electrons. The Earth is negatively charged, so it has an abundance of electrons which can nourish us through the soles of our feet. Our feet have a high concentration of nerve endings and guess what? Nerve tissue is electronically conductive. Usually, however, we are insulated from this particular benefit because modern-day shoe soles are made from rubber and plastics, which are excellent insulators from electricity. (Old-fashioned leather shoe soles, by the way, are excellent conductors of electrons.) As a result, we rarely get to experience that nurturing, direct contact with the Earth.
So, why would we want these electrons flowing up through us? It turns out that the surplus of electrons provide an antidote to free radicals, which are molecules that have become unstable due to a lack of an electron. Free radicals can cause damage to healthy tissue as they scavenge for their missing electron. Free radicals go hand in hand with chronic inflammation, an underlying cause of of many diseases, such as cancer, heart-disease, arthritis and diabetes. What this means is that walking barefoot on the ground is a potent antioxidant for our body and, most likely, a birth right for our health and well-being that we simply don’t take advantage of.
According to Dr. James Oschman, a pioneer, in earthing research:
” So really what is happening with grounding or earthing is that you’re protecting your body from — I call it, collateral damage,” Dr. Oschman says. “Damage that was not intended to take place but does take place because we have disconnected ourselves from the Earth by putting rubber and plastic on the bottoms of our shoes.”
Dr. Oschman further states that the symptoms of inflammatory response- pain, redness, heat, loss of range of motion and swelling- do not need to happen. Grounding research has discovered that when you place your bare feet on the ground, after an injury, electrons will flow into your body and spread through your tissues. Any free radicals that have leaked into healthy tissue will be electrically neutralized. This happens because free radicals have a positive charge and the Earth’s free electrons have a negative charge, so the two cancel each other out.
So, here are the many health benefits of earthing:
- Beneficial changes in heart-rate
- Thins the blood, preventing elevated levels of viscosity associated with heart-disease
- Reduces chronic inflammation and associated pain
- Neutralizes free radicals in our bodies, significantly reducing oxidative stress and enhances recovery from injuries, trauma and exhaustion.
- Improves balance of sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems
- Enhances circulation and improves energy levels
- Improves sleeps
- Reduces hormonal and menstrual symptoms
Now, that you are ready to earth, what are the best surfaces to step your bare tootsie on? I say do whatever you can. I live in Brooklyn, NY without a backyard, so whatever patch of grass I can find, I step on (you know those patches of grass that are between the sidewalk and the street). However, walking barefoot on the sand, in the ocean or close to the water is especially beneficial and ideal, as sea water, for instance, is a great conductor of electrons. Walking on dewy morning grass is also great. Even concrete is a good conductor, so long as it hasn’t been sealed by paint.
Do you walk barefoot on the Earth? Are there any other health benefits to doing so that I haven’t mentioned? Please share your thoughts and experiences and happy earthing!