Walking barefoot is considered therapeutic. Internet results, in fact, show that walking barefoot on the ground helps one absorb all the negative charge from the earth through our feet into the body. ‘Earthing’ or ‘grounding’ works when your body is in direct contact with earth, making an electrical connection with its energies. Such nature-immersive wellness practices have proved beneficial for many—American actor Gwyneth Kate Paltrow swears by it and actor Shailene Diann Woodley, too, connects to the planet’s energy. Late painter MF Husain, in fact, walked barefoot all his life. “Everyone needs grounding. One of the most profound forms of grounding is to walk or sit on the bare ground with no shoes or socks, and to touch and connect with the soil or earth,” says Chennai-based Pankhuri Agarwal, a spiritual and oracle healing expert at Sarva Yoga Studio.
Activities like playing with soil, building sand castles on the beach, etc, help in fighting sadness, anxiety and depression, besides having other positive effects. The easiest perhaps is just to walk on the (non-carpeted) floor at home or sit on it. Grounding helps in maintaining the health of the root chakra, the first chakra of the seven main chakras in the body, which is based on the earth element. It’s responsible for confidence, support, the musculoskeletal system and sustenance. “When we lose our connection with earth, we find ourselves in a mental flurry or feeling floaty, drifty, disconnected and unsettled,” says Agarwal, adding that the mind, body and soul are interdependent on earth.
“Any healing to one will affect the other two. Grounding can reduce stress levels, help the body recover from stress-induced issues and uplift the spirit,” she says.
In his book The Magic Immunity Pill: Lifestyle, author and lifestyle coach Luke Coutinho talks about how playing with soil is a powerful lifestyle change and makes one’s immunity strong. “Get your children to play in the mud and soil because the microbes in them get into their fingernails, skin and they reach their gut, making the gut as well as their immunity extremely strong. A healthy gut is everything when it comes to immunity, assimilation and digestion. Handling soil also improves the ratio of good bacteria versus bad bacteria, making your immunity grow stronger. This is how you enable the body to help prevent allergies and possibly heal them. If you have a limitation on space, invest in building a microbiome or mud box. It contains organic soil and a few leaves… You can play with the soil for 5 minutes. It is therapeutic; it connects you with nature,” writes Coutinho.
Modern lifestyles have, however, distanced us from nature, and this may have been aggravated by the current health crisis, which is forcing us all to stay indoors. “Grounding may be an under-researched area compared to other therapies in modern medicine… But earthing is different from grounding techniques used by mental health professionals to help treat people from stressful experiences and reorient their senses to be mindful in the present moment. The surface of the earth has ample free electrons that are taken up by our body on direct skin contact—think of this as nature’s biggest and most freely available antioxidant. It is basic conduction that neutralises excess free radicals that could be otherwise damaging our body,” says Bhavna Barmi, co-founder, Psycare (Neuropsychiatry Care Centre in Delhi), and senior clinical psychologist, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, Delhi.
Grounding not only has several physiological benefits—reducing inflammation and wound healing, preventing and treating autoimmune conditions, and improving sleep problems and chronic pain—but also enhances general well-being. “The mind-body connection is undeniable, as is this technique’s direct effect on reducing stress and improving mood. The most amazing thing is the accessibility of this health practice. It’s as simple as walking barefoot on grass. You can also make a more conscious effort by lying down in nature or wading through a natural water body, which can work in a similar way,” adds Barmi.