Story time! When I was in L.A. about 10 years ago, I was 16 discovering the best places to shop in Los Angeles. I had fully discovered the neighbourhood of Beverly Hills, and so I thought, ‘You know what? I’m heading to Venice!’ I hopped in a cab and declared to be sent to Abbot Kinney (highly recommend by the way). “Oh, good! I was just going to Santa Monica to go earthing anyway!” said the cabbie.
Now as a modern 16-year-old, I thought, ‘Oh god no, don’t tell me he’s a flat-earther and I have to listen to conspiracy theories for 45 minutes.’ If you’ve ever been to the United States of America – better, California – then you’ll know that for everyone you meet, you are braced to meet an absolute head case. In the nicest way possible – there are just so many nutters over there, that you’re just ready to expect the crazy. So when this nice, young, Owen-Wilson-type cabbie told me he was an earther, I really expected the worst. Little did I know that the next 45 minutes would really be an eye-opener for me, and one that is still relevant in my day-to-day life now.
For those who don’t know – or those who think it has something to do with believing that the earth is not round as science dictates – earthing (otherwise known as grounding) is reconnecting yourself with the earth, and most commonly consists of just walking barefoot on the beach, grass, or dirt, and being present in the feeling. You can also lie down flat on your back, or connect yourself to the ground via a metal rod and a wire (that last one I’m not sure I’d recommend, but you do you!)
Kind of expected for a Californian, right? Little bit kooky, as I thought as a 16-year-old just wanting to buy some great shoes and maybe giggle at a weed shop over on Abbot Kinney. Rodeo Drive had bored me, and I was ready for an adventure – one I had braced for after listening to some random man monologue me about earthing for 45 minutes. I really was immersing myself in the Venice Beach Californication.
Now here we are, 10 years later, and this practice first introduced to me by some random taxi driver is now part of my daily life. You might think, ‘Earthing? Isn’t that just walking in the grass? What’s so special about that?’ and for all you cynics out there, yes, it’s walking in the grass, but it’s being aware of the feeling, and connecting to the Earth, and grounding yourself electrically that way.
Grounding is one of the most important tactics you learn when tackling anxiety or PTSD. Reminding yourself to live in the present, to be aware of the world around you, and get out of your head. It electrically connects you to the planet.
Think of it like a plug socket in your home. You want your plug sockets to be grounded (i.e. connected with the Earth), so that when a lightening storm comes (something traumatic or a stressful event in your life), the plug sockets don’t explode and cause chaos (and you don’t lose your marbles).
In our daily modern lives, and especially if you live in a city, how often do you feel the earth beneath your feet? Your carpet at home doesn’t count! How often are you aware of grass between your toes, feeling planted in the earth, feeling the energy of the life all around you?
It’s so important to ground ourselves in reality – away from our large, medium, and smaller screens that we spend so many hours of the day on. Perhaps if more people earthed, or grounded themselves in nature, then we would respect it more. Better for our minds, and for the planet!
Before I came back to the city of London, back to my real life, I spent an hour walking up and down the beach in front of my house in New Zealand. No phone, no music, no distractions. Just enjoying the sensation of the sand collapsing between my toes, sanding my feet, the occasional hard, smooth surface of a shell. The waves lapped at the bottom of my trouser hems – and I didn’t care. I was listening to the birds, looking at the sun glancing off the face of the water, and grounding myself steadfastly in nature that gives me strength.
I came back to London a surer person than I’ve ever been, even when my life path sometimes doesn’t feel so stable and sure at all.
Earthing is still under-researched, but studies have shown that earthing can help with chronic fatigue, chronic pain, anxiety and depression, sleep disorders, and cardiovascular disease.
Next time you’re in the park, why not take off your shoes and turn off your devices? Try and be present with the world around you – it might just do you some good, and shake off that pent up energy you’ve had since you missed out on that Saint Laurent black dress in the Net-a-porter EIP sale. Hopefully, just like that Owen Wilson Californian cabbie influenced me, you might get some good out of earthing. Even if you think I’m a little kooky.
Image via Instagram @alwaysjudging