The trappings of modernity have come with unfortunate side effects. Automobiles, for example, are responsible for much of the greenhouse gas being spewed into the atmosphere—but they sure save us travel time. Technology has weakened our ability to recall information and make mental calculations because we now rely on our devices for assistance—but they sure are helpful. Industrialization has encouraged us to be insatiable consumers and sheltered us from seeing the widespread deforestation, sprawling landfills, and other effects of our consumption—but all that stuff sure is satisfying to buy and use. The list goes on and on.
But one of the more subtle, though harmful features of our modern lifestyles may be what we wear on our bodies: rubber soled shoes and synthetic clothes. Why? Because those materials block us from the healing energy of the earth. Stay with us.
This week’s interview is with Dr. Laura Koniver, author of The Earth Prescription, a mind-bending look at what we miss when we don’t ground ourselves to the energy of the earth. In his review for the July/August issue of Foreword Reviews, Matt Sutherland writes, “From digestive issues to insomnia, depression, anxiety, back pain, arthritis, osteoporosis, and heart disease, [Dr. Koniver] points to energy flow and conductivity on a cellular level as the key to healing.” To further her case, Koniver “offers compelling testimony, links to research and additional resources, and dozens of grounding practices to help you discover the efficacy of grounding.”
Is this the greatest health discovery ever? We asked Matt to go find out. Thanks to Reveal Press for helping us make the reviewer-author connection.
Doctor, please spell out grounding science and why rubber-soled shoes are such a problem? What’s actually taking place in our bodies, and in the earth, when we stand barefoot on the ground? Did we evolve to have so many nerve endings on our feet to connect with the earth’s energy?
Great questions! Most synthetic materials are non-conductive, like plastics, rubbers, paints, and synthetic fibers, so they block the flow of grounding. Rubber is non-conductive, so yes, rubber-soled shoes mean even if you are standing on the earth you are not grounded. But most clothing is made from poly blends, spandex, viscose, etc., and they all block grounding too, so your jacket, socks, pants, exercise gear, etc., mean that even if you are outside laying on the earth, you are not grounded. So will the rubber tires on your car when you are driving, so will the chemicals in asphalt, so will the vinyl floor of your tent, the plastic tarp of a polyester sleeping bag, and a plastic lawn chair. You can actually be outside day and night camping, feeling totally immersed and surrounded by nature and still you will be completely disconnected.
In today’s modern world, we need to develop ways to deliberately and intentionally touch the earth directly in order to be certain we get grounded each day. That’s why I wrote my book, The Earth Prescription, because grounding no longer happens naturally any more. When we touch the earth directly, like standing barefoot on the ground, we are able to allow the earth’s energetic frequency (the Schumann Resonance—the heartbeat of the earth) to conduct throughout our entire body, instantly putting it into the healing state of being grounded. We actually do not need nerve endings in order to be grounded to earth’s energy at all, much to most people’s surprise! A little known fact is that every single cell in your body is conductive, not just nerves, so even without any nerve endings, you would still be grounded from head to toe just by having a fingertip or your forehead or your elbow touch the earth. The moment one little cell in your body touches the earth—on any part of your body—your entire body becomes grounded.
The reason our feet have so many nerve endings is not so much to ground us, as we would be grounded regardless, but it is actually to keep us safe, to be able to feel the surfaces we are walking on and to be able to navigate safely around obstacles, such as sharp rocks, as we move. It also helps us to enjoy the feeling of naturally walking barefoot, which should be a pleasurable experience! Soft sand, willowy grasses, smooth concrete, warm sidewalks, cool puddles of water—it is all there as a bounty of sensory fun!
Can you talk about the recent rise in immune- and inflammation-related diseases, and what might be going on, as it relates to being disconnected from the earth?
Since the very beginning of existence, human beings have lived in contact with the earth, which meant that humans were naturally grounded. Although grounding can’t prevent all illnesses or heal all injuries, it does allow the body to naturally be in as resilient a state as possible. As we developed man-made, artificial surfaces to live on, sleep on, drive in, work in, shop in, etc., we have become a society that spends every minute of every day ungrounded.
Although there are likely many reasons that there has been a rapid increase in inflammatory and autoimmune diseases in modern society, I believe one of these reasons is because we are no longer syncing up our conductive bodies with the conductive healing impulse the earth offers. When we are grounded to the earth, inflammatory markers in the body decrease, brain waves shift into a healing state, stress hormones like cortisol decrease, sleep improves, circulation improves, and many other markers of health in the human body get a boost.
Staying ungrounded all day and all night, year after year after year, without ever touching the earth is like using your cell phone battery down to nothing and then never plugging it back in and recharging it. After your cell phone battery dies, you know you need to charge it or it will no longer work, yet we expect our bodies to keep working flawlessly without ever getting a grounding energy boost. It’s impossible! We get frustrated and wonder why our body experiences pain, discomfort, inflammation, muscle tension, immune and metabolic dysfunction and other issues yet we never boost our body’s resiliency through conductive support. It’s simple to reverse this in an instant—simply touch the earth outside and you will be grounded, conductively supported by the earth’s healing energy.
My daughter’s two month old, Rosemary Pauline, is a grounding convert. She almost instantly stops crying and fussing when Vanessa kicks off her shoes and walks outside with Rosemary in her arms. You write about having the same experience with your child. What’s happening between mother and baby and Mother Earth?
Yes absolutely, this is a near-universal experience. Grounding supports your autonomic nervous system immediately whether you understand why or not. What is happening is your granddaughter’s vagal tone is getting a boost—as her body is grounded the calming energy that is supporting her vagus nerve function is allowing digestion to happen more easily (soothing colic, as happened with my own baby), supporting healthy heart function (as happened in a medical study on grounding infants in the NICU), lowering blood pressure, calming the brain, even supporting healthy breathing patterns.
As I talked about earlier, every single cell in your body gets instantly grounded when you are grounded, so standing on the earth with bare feet will also ground you up through your arms—and the baby you are holding in your arms!—as every cell in their body is fully conductive too, and will get grounded right through their grounded parent. If you are grounded, anyone you touch, hold hands with, or embrace is grounded as well. It’s a beautiful thing.
In the book, you mention numerous ailments and diseases that respond positively to grounding, but it seems one of the most powerful benefits may be on mental health as it relates to accumulated stress. Please offer us some guidance on how to start a grounding practice?
Yes, this is the main reason I wrote The Earth Prescription. The typical advice “just go outside barefoot” is not practical for everyone. Many patients have mobility issues that prevent them from walking barefoot, many live in urban environments where there isn’t easy access to safe green spaces, and many live in harsh climates that prevent prolonged skin exposure. In my book, I cover all of these issues and give the reader literally hundreds of ways to safely get grounded—year round—outside.
To get started, I like to recommend you find a favorite tree and make it your special grounding tree. You can leave your shoes on and even be bundled up in a jacket and simply touch a bare finger to a leaf on any living tree growing out of the earth and you will be immediately grounded. The other easy way to get started is to find one little patch of sidewalk somewhere that you feel is safe to touch. Sit on the sidewalk and touch it with your hand, or slip one foot out of a shoe and stand there on your little patch of sidewalk and enjoy being grounded. One minute makes a difference, so if you only have a few minutes, don’t let that stop you. You don’t have to stand there for hours to have your health supported. Longer is better, as benefits accumulate over time, but no time is too short to get grounded.
Having a safe grounding tree and a safe grounding sidewalk spot can get you through many many years of being grounded and boosting your body’s health resiliency. For more ways to expand on these simple healing techniques, and for hundreds of additional new ways to connect to the earth, please read The Earth Prescription and you will never run out of ways to boost your body’s innate health, no matter where you live or what the season.
What are some other activities that can be done while grounding?
Many indoor activities can be moved outside to exponentially increase the health benefits, immediately! Eating grounded, doing physical therapy stretches grounded, yoga grounded, meditating grounded, journaling grounded, artwork grounded, talking to others grounded, holding parties and group events grounded, even napping grounded will allow you to take each of these activities to the next level! For details on how to move many of the activities of daily living that you do inside outdoors to boost your health, read The Earth Prescription and get inspired to boost your health just by changing the location of some of the daily activities you are already doing!
What is your grounding routine from day to day?
I try to sprinkle short grounding sessions into my day throughout each and every day. When I first wake up, I like to take a cup of coffee out on my front doorstep and stand grounded on cement as I breathe deeply, assess the weather, embrace the beauty of whatever season is upon me, drink my coffee, and watch my dog go outside to explore the front yard. Later in the day, I take a grounded break during my work day to eat lunch outside. Often, on the weekends I will exercise barefoot in my garage, which is a cement slab on the earth, so my entire garage floor is actually grounded. And the other thing I like to do is to bring dinner outside for my kids to eat as a family grounded outdoors once every weekend.
Lastly, before bed I walk outside and stand grounded looking up at the stars and moon on my way up to bed every night. This is a time I say my prayers as well as run through my gratitudes for the day, and I do these activities grounded as it makes me feel centered in the present moment and really anchored in appreciating this short time I have on our planet, and the measure of health I have right at this very moment. Grounding before bed also allows me to fall asleep more easily and sleep more restoratively. I hope these ideas help you to sprinkle a little grounding throughout your own day and feel the benefits of boosting your body’s conductive health!