Walking on the earth with our bare feet can bring down our anxiety, the energy in our head, our inflammation, and maybe even our pain.
Even though it’s getting cool where I’ve been staying in Cheonan, South Korea, I recently gave a talk at a well-attended event at the Institute of Korean Cultural Studies (known as Kookhakwon there) that featured walking barefoot on a dirt path. Barefoot walking is a growing trend in South Korea, but its health benefits have been recognized for a long time in many places around the world.
Have you tried it? You may not have walked barefoot, except at the beach, but you may have felt good simply walking outside. You may have felt even better walking outside in a natural setting such as park or a mountain. I think it feels even better when you do that barefoot.
Walking barefoot on the earth is often called earthing or grounding. People who study this practice believe that by having direct contact with the earth, our body’s electromagnetic field balances out to match that of the earth, stabilizing it. We also take in the free electrons the earth gives off in a seemingly limitless and ever-renewing supply. These unbound electrons neutralize the free radicals in our bodies, which reduces inflammation. The act of putting our feet on the ground can shift our autonomic nervous system so that the parasympathetic branch (rest and digest) dominates over the sympathetic one (fight or flight).
Barefoot walking provides energetic benefits as well. It becomes a form of foot reflexology as it stimulates all the areas around the bottoms of your feet. It also becomes a meditation if you actively focus on the sensations produced as each foot touches the ground. Combined, these effects help bring the subtle energy (qi/chi/ki) in our bodies down into the lower half and stimulates Water Up, Fire Down energy circulation. This ideal energy flow helps us have a cool head and a warm belly, which also relaxes body and mind and contributes to all aspects of wellness.
Overall, all of these effects contribute to our bodies being better able to care for and heal themselves. Here are some others that have been mentioned in scientific reviews of the research performed on earthing so far:
- Better sleep
- Reduced pain
- Faster wound healing
- Reduced inflammation
- Decrease blood viscosity and clumping
- Improved mood
- Better gut health
Having a backyard or a safe walking path makes earthing easier. Come with me as I walk on the gravel path around the Healing Garden at the Sedona Mago Center for Well-being and Retreat:
Besides all the health benefits that have been studied, I’ve found that grounding literally grounds us and fosters a deeper connection to the earth. We become more “natural.” And if we pay close attention and our minds become quiet, we can feel the part of us that isn’t buzzing with stress, worry, or electronics. Walking on the earth not only brings us back to nature, it brings us back to ourselves.
- Reflections on Water, Fire, and Temperature
- How Are You Walking Today?
- How to Deal with Pain and Sickness
- Ilchi Lee’s 5 Ways to Buffer Yourself Against Negative Energy
- Discover the Spirit of the Earth in Sedona