Barefoot Healing or Earthing in Ancient and Modern Times
At its simplest, earthing or grounding is the act of walking barefoot in nature. Through this essential act of touching the earth with our skin, we can rebalance our bodies and promote healing.
We are also earthing when sitting or lying on green grass, or immersing a part of ourselves in a lake, river or ocean.
There’s no doubt that being in nature generally makes us feel:
- Less stressed
And yet, walking barefoot in nature adds something more. If your body is in pain, that pain may reduce. Your blood will likely flow more freely, and your immune system will receive a boost, according to preliminary research on grounding published in peer-reviewed journals.
You can earth indoors too. Indoor earthing products or ‘barefoot substitutes’ allow you to connect to the earth from the comfort of your home or office.
Whilst you don’t get the fresh air and the sunshine, indoor earthing is a convenient way to get a daily dose barefoot healing, without getting your feet dirty. Read on for more details or take a look at our range of durable Australian made indoor grounding products that are backed by 2-year or 5-year repair or replace warranty.
Barefoot Healing in Two Ancient Traditions
It comes as no surprise that throughout history humans have regarded our connection with our planet as fundamental. We depend on the earth for fresh air, clean water, nourishment via the food we grow and so much more.
In Australian Aboriginal culture, one of the most ancient living human traditions, health and healing comes from the act of being in harmony with oneself and the earth, or ‘acknowledging the interconnectedness between yourself and every living thing’ says Aboriginal medicine woman Anne Warren. When you attune yourself to nature, then nature will nurture you in body, mind and spirit. You can experience this by ‘walking barefoot on the ground and sitting in the bush’ says Aboriginal horticulturist Noel Butler.
Ancient Chinese culture believes in the vital connection between humans and the earth via the concept of Qi.
Qi is the life force or vital energy of the universe that animates all things. There is a special type of Qi that exists in our body. There is a Qi of the Earth. And there is a Qi of the Heavens above.
In Chinese philosophy, Heaven Qi is the primary powerful energy of the planets, moon and stars that influence the earth. Think of the way moon influences tides. Earth Qi is the circulating, spiralling energy of our planet. It includes the earth’s magnetic field, its hot inner core, as well as the rivers, trees and every living being on earth. Additionally, all animals, plants and humans have their own individual field of Qi that is influenced by Earth Qi and Heaven Qi.
Chinese healing practices have developed to help correct any imbalance of Earth Qi. For example, in acupuncture, the Yong Quan or kidney 1 point on the sole of the foot helps us connect deeply with earth-energy. Pressure to this point calms the spirit and draws excess mental energy or anxiety downwards into a grounded connection with the earth. Similarly, in the moving meditation of Qi Gong, attention on the Yong Quan point sends down roots into the earth, and creates feelings of stablity and energy. We can bring this earth-energy into relation with heaven/sky-energy by imagining an opening at the crown of head. When heaven-qi flows down into our body and earth-qi is drawn upwards, our body becomes the meeting place of heaven and earth. Balance and good health are the result.
Our connection to the earth and nature is also part of the modern naturopathy movement, which began in the 19th century.
Barefoot Healing in Europe
In the late nineteenth century, influential German naturopaths Adolf Just and Sebastian Kniepp were part of a back-to-nature movement that advocated barefoot walking for health, alongside other treatments such as hydrotherapy.
Adolf Just ran a popular health spa where he encouraged people to refresh, revitalise and strengthen their mind and body through skin contact with the earth. This included sleeping on the earth as well as barefoot healing.
Kniepp also advocated walking barefoot through dew-soaked grass or shallow water to strengthen the immune system, improve blood circulation to our vital organs, and support the body to heal.
Their thinking remains influential today. In Europe, there are a number of barefoot parks that follow Kniepp’s vision, providing a variety of surfaces to massage the foot’s reflex zones and heighten sensory awareness. Imagine walking over straw, water and even mud. Feeling nature under your feet to deepen your connection with the earth and promote wellbeing. UK barefoot walking guide Lyn Albutt explains the appeal of barefoot hikes as follows.
‘More and more of us want to experience the energy, knowledge and primal wisdom that comes from the earth, as our ancestors did. When we put our feet in shoes, we block their ability to communicate with the earth.’
If you are a bit squeamish about walking on doggy doo’s (poo) or treading on pointy objects, then there is an alternative. You can strap on a pair of shoe heel earthers. They fit any size closed-toe shoe. Wearing these, you can receive the earth’s healing energy without going barefoot.
The ‘Barefoot Healing Effect’ Indoors
Since the 1990s, medical and scientific researchers have explored the effect that the earth’s surface energy has upon the human physiology, mood and health.
There are over fifteen studies that address stress, disturbed heart rate variability, mood, blood circulation, poor sleep, inflammation, hypercoagulable blood, delayed onset muscle soreness and more. Browse research on earthing.
Interestingly this research was done indoors using ‘barefoot substitutes’.
How Indoor Earthing Works
The earth has its own natural negative charge and our bodies (which are largely made of water and electrolytes) seem to function better when we are connected to it.
Indoor grounding products allow you to connect your body to the earth while you are inside of a building.
They use conductive materials (such as silver-coated fabric or stainless steel fibre or carbonized rubber) that connect to a special lead that’s inserted into either a grounding rod outside or a special adapter that uses the 3rd earth port in your standard building power point.
When you earth to an indoor earthing product, your body equalizes towards the same electric energy or potential as the Earth. The unnatural AC electrical volts in your body go down.
A safety note, indoor grounding products do not conduct electricity, only the earth’s natural energy or free electrons. As a precaution, Realyou Earthing products are fitted with safety resistors so that barely a mosquito bite of electricity can pass through.
To offer you the best earthing sheets or mats and other earthing or grounding-related products, you can trust RealYouEarthing. Our products are made from highly conductive custom-made highly conductive fabrics that are designed in conjunction with fabric and fibre experts. Realyou Earthing products earth on the basis of ‘conductive contact’ and do not require skin contact.
Conductive Contact Explained
Any earthing and grounding product, whether we touch it with bare skin or not, puts us in conductive contact with the earth outside.
What is conducting from the earth to us are free electrons.
The earth’s surface has a negative charge due to continuous lightning strikes around the globe and atmospheric pressure. The smallest unit of negative charge is an electron. The earth’s surface is packed with free or mobile electrons. The earth’s free electrons are similar to electricity in that they are conductive or can travel via metal and the water in moist materials.
When you sit on the grass while wearing clothes or stand wearing socks, you are in ‘conductive contact’ with the earth. The slightest amount of moisture in the fabric of your socks, combined with your body weight, creates conductive channels that the earth’s free electrons can travel through.
Indoor grounding products work the same way.
The earth’s free electrons flow into the wiring or lead that connects to your product (made of conductive fabric). When you touch the earthing product, the free electrons flow through to you and pass through any intervening layers of fabric via the tiniest amount of moisture, and aided by body weight. This can be verified with a multimeter. In the video below, you can see the AC volts in your body drop when earthed compared to not earthed indoors.
How to Get Started
To experience barefoot earthing and grounding, simply head outside and kick off your shoes. Take a walk on the lawn or along your garden paths or on a sandy beach. It may only take 15-30 minutes to notice a change in your mood, stiffness or mobility. Moist green grass will give a more powerful earthing experience than dry brown grass, as the moisture conducts more free electrons. Likewise, moist sand is better than dry sand for earthing. Oceans, rivers and lakes are full of free electrons.