Something simple yet profound happened when I decided to walk barefoot on a rock. The shoes with rubber soles that most people wear today, I’d heard, absorb the energy that naturally comes out of the ground. So I removed my athletic shoes and socks, took a few steps, and was amazed to feel a current of warm, tingling energy coursing underneath my feet – coming from a plain, ordinary rock that had seemed boring before. Our planet is alive, just like me, I thought. Feeling connected to the Earth is a powerful way for us all to strengthen our personal well-being, and to motivate ourselves to take good care of the environment that is essential for global well-being.
That moment in Sedona, Arizona showed me something I hadn’t realized before, despite being a longtime nature lover and environmentalist. Just like in a friendship with another human being, there’s always something new to discover and enjoy about our relationship with the Earth. The more connected we are, the more energized we are – which strengthens our ability to live well. Here are 5 ways to tap into Earth energy on a regular basis:
1. Soak in some sun. There’s a reason why we look forward to sunny days: Spending time in sunlight is naturally good for us. While it’s wise to use sunscreen to protect our skin from the damage of excessive time in the sun’s ultraviolet light, we shouldn’t avoid sunshine. Spending between 5 and 15 minutes a day in the sun is enough to enjoy many health benefits from sunshine, including: a better mood, stronger brain function, lower blood pressure, stronger muscles, less inflammation, and greater prevention from heart disease and some types of cancer. Many of these benefits come from the vitamin D that sunlight triggers our bodies to produce.
2. Walk barefoot. Take off your shoes and socks, like I did, to experience the electromagnetic energy that the ground emits. Spend some time practicing mindfulness while walking barefoot outdoors on a natural area such as grass, sand, or a rock (rather than an artificial surface like a sidewalk or patio). That will focus your attention fully on your experience. An especially powerful way to do so is through centering prayer, a form of mindfulness meditation that can enhance your awareness of God’s constant presence with you. While you’re grounding yourself in Earth’s energy, you can ask the Creator who set that energy in motion to send you down-to-earth guidance for decisions you’re facing. Grounding has been linked to health benefits such as less inflammation and a stronger immune system. As you ground yourself in our planet’s energy, you can find stability to help you deal with whatever stress and change you’re dealing with currently.
3. Breathe in forest air. Spend time in the woods whenever you can. Research shows that breathing in air around trees has powerful healing benefits for people — from calming the mind to fighting cancer and heart disease. Just a few minutes of “forest bathing” (which can be as simple as sitting outside among trees in your own backyard or walking in the woods at a local park) can significantly boost your well-being. Don’t hesitate to be a tree hugger, as well – literally hugging a tree can powerfully connect you with its energy that is rooted within the Earth.
4. Watch wildlife. Paying attention to the wildlife that lives around you reminds you that we humans share this home with many other creatures – and we’re all connected through nature. From birds and squirrels to less common animals, wildlife can spark a sense of wonder in you, while also strengthening well-being by relieving stress. A recent study found that the well-being benefits of watching wildlife are so powerful that we can experience them even when we’re not outside, simply by watching videos of wildlife in action.
5. Bring flowers and plants inside to enjoy. Regularly place fresh flowers and potted plants around your home and office to experience a connection to the outside while you’re spending time inside. Their beauty will inspire you, and indoor plants can offer health benefits as well, including purifying the air you breathe, boosting your mood, and even strengthening your creativity and productivity. Surrounding yourself with plants will energize you by reminding you how you’re connected to the natural world even when you’re indoors.
Our planet is alive, just as we are. The more we connect to the Earth’s energy, the more we can experience the well-being benefits that are naturally there for us whenever we need them!
Whitney Hopler works as Communications Director at George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being (CWB) and has written for many media organizations, from About.com to the Washington Post. Connect with Whitney on Twitter and connect with CWB on Twitter and Facebook.