Earthing – What It Means to Touch Mother Earth

Earthing – What It Means to Touch Mother Earth
By Nicole Dawn Armstrong, Guest Blogger

Jungle MudbathWhen was the last time you sat on our Earth and touched her with your bare hands? I’m not referring to simply leaning on the ground, perhaps while watching a baseball game, or enjoying a picnic on a blanket with friends. I am referring to touching our Earth, recognizing her as a living, breathing being, and connecting with her through your bare hands or feet in an awake, aware moment. Reconnecting with the Earth through direct touch is called Earthing. It’s a timeless practice of living in contact with the Earth’s natural electrical surface charge – being grounded – and it’s powerful. Being grounded allows the body to naturally discharge and prevent build-up of chronic inflammation. In this way, Earthing addresses the most pressing health concern to date in the modern world.

Sure, it sounds simple. But when you make the distinction as to whether a touch given to Mother Earth was mindful and direct – or not, you realize whether an energy exchange took place in that moment. In fact, throughout most of human history, we were connected to Mother Earth. We slept and walked barefoot on the ground. We gathered roots, berries, and plants outdoors with our bare hands and scooped up water directly from streams and lakes.

However, enter modern times. We now wear nonconductive shoes with synthetic soles, walk over carpeted floors, work in high rise towers and buildings, drive around in cars with nonconductive rubber tires, and sleep in elevated beds. We rarely go outside barefoot anymore. We rarely touch rain from the sky, feel natural water on our feet or sand between our toes. In fact, outside of taking vacation once or twice a year, we rarely reconnect. We’ve become disconnected from our Earth and the charge building within our body continues to increase right alongside the mainstream proliferation of chronic inflammatory diseases new to the modern world.

Perhaps as we’ve become disconnected from the Earth, we’ve also become disconnected from our own bodies. The sense of disconnection can result in a loss of compassion – not only for the Earth but also for ourselves. As Jack Kornfield, renowned mindfulness and vipassana teacher wrote, “From the perspective of Buddhist psychology, compassion is natural. It derives from our interconnection, which Buddhism calls “interdependence.” This can be readily seen in the physical world. In the womb, every child is interdependent with its mother’s body. If either of them is sick, the other is affected. In the same way we are interdependent with the body of the earth. The minerals of the soil make up our wheat and bones, the storm clouds become our drinks and our blood, the oxygen from the trees and forests breathe with us, interdependent with our own life. The more consciously we realize this shared destiny, the more compassion arises for the earth itself.”

For something that sounds so simple and dismissive as leaning down to touch the Earth, it may actually be one of our most powerful gestures as it grounds and discharges our body and opens up our being compassionately not only to the Earth, but to ourselves.

Machu PicchuRecall moments when you’ve felt powerfully connected to Mother Earth. Some Earthing moments that resonate most memorably with me are the sights, sounds, and aromas of the Earth during my childhood in rural Montana. I recall the scent of sagebrush on the open prairie, pine mountain forests, and steaming sulfur from the geothermal waters near Yellowstone. I recall the feeling of gushy mud between my toes and joy as I ran barefoot through the pigpens and all around the farm. I can still smell the musty scents of old saddle leather and hot animal sweat from horseback riding across long open fields. These memories of being outdoors and connected with Mother Earth are vivid and everlasting as moments when I felt gentle, alive, calm, secure and grounded.

Most recently, I recall the connected time I spent Earthing in the Amazon jungle. During this journey, I walked barefoot along the shores of the great river, practiced yoga in the sun while soaking in mud, and absorbed moments of meditation among the symphony of sounds resonating throughout the rainforest. Connected, exhilarated, gentle, alive, calm, and yes – grounded. Earthing, it’s a powerful energetic shift we all need.

Washington Lake ShoreFacing forward, I practice earthing daily here at home in Seattle. Some days my daily reconnection with Mother Earth takes place on a sandy beach, after a hike in a local park, or with yoga along a lakeshore. However, most days it’s simply taking work breaks throughout the day to step outside, soak in the springtime sun, and press my press my bare feet onto the soil. If I pay close enough attention, I can feel the energetic tingle of Mother Earth helping me rebalance my energy.

What does your daily practice of reconnecting to Mother Earth look like?

How does it make you feel?

Can you recall a moment when you were so powerfully connected to the Earth that the smallest details of that moment will always remain fresh in your mind?

These feelings of calm groundedness, awake, aware security and immense peacefulness are our birthright as living beings on this Earth. I encourage you to be mindful and curious about how your connection – or lack thereof – with Mother Earth affects you. If you’ve been inflamed, scattered, or constantly craving a sense of grounding, perhaps this is your wake up call to connect back to your Earth Mother.

You are worth feeling connected, alive, and securely grounded here in your divine purpose on this planet. Mother Earth is always present and available for you, at every moment of the day, whenever you need to renew that sense of connectedness. It involves simply removing your shoes, opening your hands, and touching her mindfully with a welcoming present heart.

Earthing – it’s time to reconnect and reawaken. You’re always here, right at home.

Ready to experience powerful Earthing? Join me May 18-22nd for five powerful days to experiencing earthing in Utah next month.  I have partnered with Yoga In The Wild for a Yoga and Canyoneering Retreat in breathtaking outdoor vistas. This retreat was recently named by Yoga Journal magazine as one of the Most Affordable Yoga Retreats in 2016! You will experience a grounding and rejuvenating immersion in one of our nation’s most sacred landscapes including daily outdoor yoga and meditation practices, as well as canyoneering adventures and nighttime campfires under the stars. Side effects may include grounding, peacefulness, and connected memories to last a lifetime. I hope you’ll join me!

For more information, check out: Early bird rates of $995 are good until April 30th.

For more information about the researched health benefits of Earthing, check out book: Ober, Clinton, and Sinatra, MD, Stephen T., and Zucker, Martin. Earthing, The most important health discovery ever!. Basic Health Publications, Inc. 2014.

Yoga in the Wild: Answer the Call of Nature with an OM

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Practicing yoga in the canyonlands of southern Utah

 by Katie Vincent, Conference Blogger
Ever stared at the ceiling in
vrksasana and wondered what it might be like to truly become one with the trees? Well, there’s more to yoga than your yoga mat might have you think. The basis of Ayurvedic medicine, which is intertwined with yogic philosophy, is to tune the body’s internal seasons with the natural rhythms of the surrounding Earth. There is no better way to reboot your system and find the deep flow your body, mind, and spirit craves than to practice yoga in the wilderness.

Practicing detachment and true presence in a busy urban setting has its benefits, but it’s also not easy—especially for beginners whose awareness on all levels might already be so far removed from the natural flow. To step away from the urban setting altogether, where the sounds of birds, feel of the breeze and the aroma of trees all hold sacred space, is a beautiful jumpstart to healing and reconnecting with one’s essential self. Many outdoor adventure companies in the Pacific Northwest offer yoga adventure trips, ranging from half-day walks to multi-day backpacking trips

Melissa Phillips-Hagedorn, the Director of the Northwest Yoga Conference, teaches wilderness yoga for Get in the Wild Adventures and was eager to share her enthusiasm for the experience:

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Melissa Hagedorn practices yoga in the Dirty Devil/Robber’s Roost Wilderness of southern Utah

Why practice yoga in the wilderness?

Studios are familiar environments. Sometimes, to have a breakthrough moment, you must remove yourself from the familiar. In most parks, you are still surrounded by many unnatural things that move at unnatural rhythms, like cars, planes, and cell phones. In the wilderness you are connecting with pure natural rhythms, allowing your mind, body and spirit to rest—something we seem to be lacking these days.

Why hike to practice yoga instead of just one or the other?

Hiking provides transition time to create space from daily obligations and the familiar, allowing for a deeper yoga practice. On the way back, there is then space for reflection and processing. In enhances the experience exponentially.

How do you choose the right landscape?

You should choose the landscape that resonates most with you.  Each evokes a different experience. The wild and austere deserts of southern Utah are awe-inspiring and remind us that even when times get tough, if we are resourceful we can take care of our needs. Mountains offer an expansive and majestic view of the world. Lakes allow us the opportunity to literally and figuratively reflect on our lives. Rivers remind us of the steady yet ever-changing ways of the world.

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Yoga in The Wild

How might wilderness yoga be likened to a pilgrimage?

There are numerous steps to a pilgrimage that one can find in wilderness yoga. First is the the call or yearning to find a deeper meaning, leading you to sign up for a yoga trip. Next is separation from the known and into unfamiliar wilderness. The journey, or hike, is when yogis find themselves humbled by the beauty of nature and united as a community with their fellow yogis. This leads to the encounter,  or the yoga practice, where yogis find their awareness elevated and meaning becomes clearer.  And finally, the completion and return, where the yogi processes the experience and applies it to their daily living.

Are there risks to practicing in nature?

If you decide to venture out on your own or with a group of friends, you should have awareness of everybody’s abilities and choose an adventure that is suitable for all. Beyond that, using common sense, being prepared with proper gear and clothing, and traveling with experienced outdoor adventurers will help minimize risks. Still, because we live in a “plugged in” society, it is not uncommon for people to feel anxious. Take note of that feeling but do not avoid it. Our true nature is the wilderness and so if you feel nervous out there, I would encourage you to spend more time in nature to sync your rhythms.

What do I need?

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Melissa Hagedorn practices Yoga In The Wild in the North Cascade Mountains of Washington

Instead of using a mat to adjust the physical space to the practice, adjust your practice to the physical space offered by the wild. Practicing with a mat in nature inhibits your ability to connect with the Earth. There is no replacement for this physical connection. As for gear, bring the usual essentials you would need to do a day hike or overnight backpacking trip.

To learn more at the Northwest Yoga Conference, attend the Yoga in the Wild workshop with Christopher Hagedorn of Get in the Wild Adventures on Sunday, March 6 at 11:15am.