What is grounding?
In the meditation and yoga sector grounding refers to the connection between people and earth. The vision behind that connection is that it allows you to release energy you no longer need to the earth like tension, worries and old emotions. The release of energy would benefit the earth as well, much like how manure is used to fertilize the earth. You would also be able to take energy from the earth. Earth energy is supposed to have a calming effect and counteract the overstimulation of the mind that we see throughout the modern world.
What is the scientific hypothesis of grounding?
When lightning strikes some 5000 times per minute worldwide, free electrons are supplied to and distributed all over the earth. Upon touching the earth these free electrons jump on to our bodies. Where they can attach themselves to for example free radicals. Free radicals have gotten a lot of attention these last few decades because of findings in medical research that they play a role in degenerative diseases. This explanation is oversimplified but gives you a glimpse into the scientific background of grounding.
The scientific approach of grounding in recent history has been brought about by Clint Ober. About 20 years ago Clint Ober started an experiment with connecting people directly to the earth. This was partly inspired by his business in which he facilitated the
proper grounding of cable installations for safety and signal stability. He developed a working hypothesis: grounding normalizes functions of all body systems. He has supported various research studies since.
The medical studies into grounding are always done inside so researchers can control and measure what is going on. Here we make a shift from grounding by touching the earth to grounding indoors with grounding materials such as a grounded sheet for a bed that's hooked up to a metal rod that's inserted to the earth or to the grounding in the ground port of a power outlet. You can make your own grounding sheets with help of many tutorials online, I have done so and have experienced great benefits from it. A host of grounding products have flooded the market the last couple of years from shoes to bedding so if you want to get a ready-made product you can.
The medical studies
Circulation and blood flow
Let's take a deliciously Californian example of grounding studies where they looked at blood circulation in a double-blind pilot study. The objective was; could the circulation of fluids in the body be improved with just one hour of grounding. The measuring instrument was an infrared imaging camera. The result, hey these aren't my words okay: optimize facial appearance. You've gotta love Cali! All shenanigans aside the study showed even with one hour of grounding that bodily fluids had better circulation throughout the torso and extremities. This means among other things that cold hands and feet are drastically reduced and it improves the flow in areas with inflammation which drastically reduces the inflammation in a short timeframe. You can check the study here.
For a clear review of 20 case studies with thorough descriptions of the patients, photos
and thermal imagine scans go here. Figures from this review are shown below.
Cortisol is a stress-response hormone. It has varying tasks like making us hungry when we get up in the morning, compensating our energy levels after any form of stress and dropping all the way down at the end of the day so we can sleep. This 24-hour rhythm of ups and downs in cortisol levels is called a circadian curve in fancy medical language. When your cortisol levels aren't functioning as they are supposed to you are going to have trouble sleeping or worse feel stressed out throughout the day or both! A pilot study on cortisol and grounding shows normalizing levels of cortisol while sleeping on a grounded sheet for 6 weeks. Figures below are from that study. Please go here for the complete study.
When I was training to become an aura therapist, now 15 years ago, I was introduced to grounding. This time I am referring to the meditative form of grounding. This form of grounding is a mental and/or spiritual exercise to let go of whatever is occupying your mind at least for the moment. This is an important skill to master for your peace of mind. It also prevents emotions from having the upper hand and it helps you to make clear decisions. At the end of the day grounding makes an important contribution to maintaining healthy relationships with yourself and others.
There was no question about it, mentally letting go was my weak spot. Every day I practiced all the techniques I had learned in training. Most techniques could be practiced in 5 minutes or less but grounding often took me up to an hour and sometimes I was not able to succeed at all. After three months of practicing grounding I noticed the first physical result; I was no longer bloated! I had been bloated for years so that really took a load off. I'm convinced that by mentally learning to let go this has an effect on the ability of my body to let go as I didn't make any dietary changes at the time.
As the years went on I slowly made progress with the mental aspect of grounding. Now I know that slow progression had a lot to do with my childhood traumas that were still suppressed at the time. When I finally broke through that barrière and was able to experience most of my fears my mind settled down. Unfortunately, I still had ongoing unbearable pain in many muscles and joints from physical tension.
Some years before I had been introduced to a physical therapy called Cesar therapy and I knew that was a solution to heal my painful body. Considering the source of my pain was my severely stressed out mind I knew Cesar therapy would not be as effective as it good be as long as I had not dealt with the mental aspect. As soon as my mind settled down I started Cesar therapy.
During Cesar therapy I learned to master deep breathing. This was actually a mortifying experience because at the time I had already been meditating for 15 years and I had been a professional therapist for 6 years so not being able to breathe deep enough was really embarrassing for me. Luckily this was one of the missing links to my recovery. The therapy also focussed on relaxing muscles in my back, neck and pelvic region. The first night after practicing I had my first PTSD nightmare in 2 years. That was shocking but confirmed the progress of body, mind and spirit because of the Cesar therapy. I was already aware of the benefits of deep breathing, it is highly relaxing and therefore grounding and it optimizes the functions of body and mind. Oh and the unbearable physical pain was gone in three days!
Cesar therapy is a physical therapy that focusses on giving insights regarding posture,
relaxing and strengthening the muscles relevant to your specific situation and breathing. There are no massages, infrared lights or anything like that. Unfortunately Cesar therpay isn't available in most countries. It has originated in The Netherlands and it has spread to other Dutch-speaking countries such as Belgium, South Africa and The Dutch Antilles. If you have access to Cesar therapy and you are struggling with your body I highly recommend it.
Practicing posture with a granny pillow, as I call mine, at Cesar therapy.
Dont be ashamed if you need a little help. Official name: lumbar support pillow
It would take another year and a half before I started grounding outside. I started after watching the documentary The Grounded. I couldn't believe how much I recovered after just a few weeks. I got more energy while being more relaxed than ever. When I was attempting to make a grounding sheet so I could ground inside year round a few things went wrong which led me to have a complete melt-down. Crying and screaming on the phone to my mom that I wouldn't be able to recover without it or at least at a far slower pace. After 8 years of not being able to work I didn't want to waste a second. I mention this to show you what the progress that came with grounding meant to me. It was far from my first experience with progress and healing. It really was one of the most significant experiences of my entire healing process.
One big mistake I made while getting acquainted with grounding outside is that I did not bother to mentally let go anymore. I thought the earth is doing all the hard work so I do not have to do it anymore. This is not true. I can be stressed to the max, ground outside and if I don't put any effort in to mentally let go I will remain stressed even though other processes in the body and mind will have improved.
The moral of the story is that grounding is important in every way! Mental skills matter, breathing techniques matter, posture matters, grounding outdoors and indoors matters. It all matters. There is no one answer or one solution. Life is multi-faceted and we owe it to ourselves to master life skills if we want to be of use to ourselves, our loved ones and our communities.
Food and Grounding
For me eating clean, whole foods has also made a huge difference in how relaxed and therefore grounded I am. A varied diet of meat, fish, fat, nuts, fruits and vegetables is what I thrive on. Sure I have some candy or processed foods like pizza but I make sure to get a majority of clean, whole foods into my body. When I don't I immediately take a turn for the worse. This can vary from burping to being more depressed and having a painful body. I'm creating an organic consult that will take a look into medical studies regarding food and varying diseases and injuries. I know it's hard for a lot of people to imagine that food can play such a large part in health and recovery but when you see the studies then it becomes real easy to grasp. This consult will become available in 2019.
The best of both worlds a clean pizza. The crust is made of cashew nuts,
cocos meal, egg and apple cider vinegar. Yes it has a lot of calories but it's so good!
Kids and Grounding
Children need their parents and caretakers to create a safe environment where they can relax in. Grounding, relaxation and letting go have a lot to do with being and feeling safe. It's not the responsibility of the children to regulate their own safety and relaxation. Playing outside is a great way to keep kids in touch with nature and ground them naturally without making a fuss over it. Clean, whole foods are of course great for kids as well as adults. The upcoming exercises are for adults but the inside grounding exercise is fun to do together with your kids.
Physically grounding indoors
This is my favorite grounding exercise of all time because it always has an immediate effect on me. It really breaks the funk from repetitive work and has you on your feet. Why this exercise works? I think it is most likely that it has to do with our internal balance which has to do with the constant processing of our positioning.
Grounding Cord Visualization
This is the meditation that I mentioned earlier that is most difficult for me however it was and still is crucial for me to do this exercise to practice mentally letting go. It is like exercising a muscle, it is a skill. Let yourself be guided by my voice while you take a few minutes out of your day to practice mentally letting go.
Deep breathing is the basis of meditation, letting go, optimal functioning of body and mind and that makes it an indispensable part of grounding as well. Its importance should never be underestimated. Deep breathing a great relaxer of the muscles in the pelvic region and those do connect to the legs, feet and lower back so it really is the whole body that's involved and it effects areas that are notoriously difficult to get to.
This concludes Grounding 101. I hope you have enjoyed reading, watching and learning about the benefits of grounding. We can be vulnerable in a lot of areas but we can regain strength in unexpected ways as well.