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I already know what you’re thinking: You went to a spa resort in Thailand and your most profound experience was taking your shoes off. Okay, yeah, that sounds like a pretty basic activity to get any real wellness benefit from, much less one that’s stuck with me months later. But hear me out: Banyan Tree Veya’s “mindful grounding” activity—which involves simply walking barefoot on a patch of grass, followed by the same walk with your eyes closed—is a prime example of grounding (a fancy term for touching the skin directly on the surface of the Earth), which shows some science it can improve your physiological condition.
Experiencing the benefits of grounding (aka grounding) at Banyan Tree Veya
While the mindful grounding activity at Banyan Tree Veya is, indeed, a barefoot walk on the grass, it comes with the benefit of some gentle guidance from one of the resort’s wellness experts, Rajesh Thazhe Thatathilwho holds a Master of Yoga from the International Sivannda Yoga Vedenta Centre, India.
On my third (and second to last) day at Veya, I found myself standing in a large stand of cool grass in the morning sun, along with the few other journalists on the trip. Thatathil encouraged us to feel our center of gravity by shifting our weight forward and backward, side to side. From there, we began walking forward slowly, visualizing this center of gravity in motion as we navigated the soft ground beneath our toes and paying close attention to our surroundings: the swaying palm fronds overhead, the birds chirping chirping, the cool breeze on our skin, the scent of wet grass. Then we stepped back and did the whole thing again with our eyes closed (moving slowly and under Thatathil’s gaze to prevent any collision).
As a wellness editor, I try stress-relieving activities all the time. But I felt calmer and more at peace taking these walks and connected to the cool ground than I could remember feeling in months. How can something so simple be so restorative? I had to understand.
On a practical level, the exercise was designed to improve balance and posture by requiring us to walk on an uneven surface, Thatathil says, especially without the aid of our vision on the second lap. “When you can’t see what’s going on around you, your other senses are heightened as well,” he says. “You automatically tune into your senses of smell, hearing and touch, taking into account whether the ground is soft or hard, the feeling of sunlight on your body, the sounds around you, as you try to walk in a straight line.” In this way, walking with eyes closed also pushed us into a more conscious and aware state of being, just as a movement meditation might.
There was also a certain sense of groundedness that came from the quiet, meditative atmosphere of the experience. (Just consider the benefits of TikTok’s “silent walks,” with the added aesthetic of feeling your toes on cool grass.) “In our modern, fast-paced lifestyles, we tend to walk quickly and not really notice what is around us says Thatathil. “Walking more slowly, connecting with nature and focusing on your surroundings can relax the nervous system.”
But as I would later learn, there was also an even more subconscious benefit at play from the “grounding” or physical connection between our bare feet and the wet grass. The Earth’s electrical charge is believed to help neutralize or stabilize our own electrical charge, which can have wide-ranging effects on the body and mind.
“When we connect directly to the Earth, we become conduits for the Earth’s negative ions, which are then attracted to positive areas of inflammation, creating an anti-inflammatory effect.” —Tracy Latz, MD, Integrative Psychiatrist
“We know that the surface of the Earth is negatively charged and that inflamed areas of the body are positively charged,” explains the integrated psychiatrist Tracy Latz, MD, studying earthing. (For proof of the negative charge on the Earth’s surface, examine this presence of lightningwhich occurs due to opposite charges in the clouds and on the ground.) “When we connect directly to the Earth, we become conduits for the Earth’s negative ions, which are then attracted to positive areas of inflammation, creating an anti-inflammatory effect.”
Of course, this could mean that grounding can relieve some pain associated with inflammation-based conditions (which include various types of cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disease and arthritis). By a different logic, accessing greater electrical balance through contact with the Earth has also been shown in some small studies to have de-stress the mood boosting effectwith research proving that can stabilize cortisol levels (a hormone that drives the Fight-or-flight autonomic nervous system.) and related, improving sleep quality.
You might raise your eyebrows at the idea of getting one all of these potential benefits from just touching the Earth. And certainly, more research needs to be done to further validate and understand these benefits. But it’s also not entirely It’s surprising that direct contact with the Earth would be beneficial for both mind and body, given how disconnected we are from it. “Only in recent years have we evolved to the point where we no longer touch the Earth or walk barefoot on the ground and wear rubber-soled shoes and live in houses several feet above the Earth’s surface, which prevents any electrical transport or connection,” he says. Dr. Latz.
Grounding, then, may be a way to restore our natural electrical balance, Dr. Latz says, literally bringing us back to our roots. Regardless of the mechanism at play, it’s hard to deny the inherent calm — you might say, grounding—The atmosphere of your toes in the sand or feet in the grass or any other part of your body reconnects with the Earth.
How to reap the benefits of grounding, wherever you are
The “mindful grounding” activity at Banyan Tree Veya is a microcosm of the larger resort experience, which is all about simple, actionable approaches to wellness that you can incorporate into your everyday life at home—hence the name “ Veya,” which means “weaving” or “woven” in Sanskrit. Indeed, you certainly don’t need to be at a wellness resort to practice grounding and experience its physiological benefits (although Phuket’s lush surroundings and pristine grass they certainly didn’t hurt).
The best way to practice grounding yourself is to walk barefoot on a wet surface outside, according to Dr. Latz. “Water helps the flow of electrons on the Earth’s surface, so wet sand or wet grass is best,” he says.
If you can take your walk to a quiet outdoor space with a range of natural scenery—such as a park, beach, or wooded area near your home—that’s even better for giving you the added calming benefits of immersing yourself in nature and disconnecting. by technology. “If you have trouble sitting still during meditation, going for a walk in a natural area and really focusing on your surroundings can also be meditative,” says Thatathil. “The more you pay attention to your sensory experience, the more you train your mind to be present in the moment.”
If there’s nowhere near your house where you feel comfortable walking around barefoot (hello, fellow New Yorkers), Thatathil suggests finding a place to sit where you can just put your feet on the ground—for example, sitting on a park bench or a towel in a field and taking off your shoes to put your feet on the grass. This will connect you to the Earth’s negative charge though.
And if there’s nowhere you can put your bare feet on the ground, or if your schedule is so busy that you can’t get out often enough to do so, Dr. Latch suggests purchasing a ground mat or ground sheets, which come with a wire that you plug into the ground port of a household outlet. This way, electrons from the Earth’s surface can flow through the wire and into the conductive layer or sheets in your home. And by touching your body to any of the objects, you have essentially the same electrical balancing effect as if you were connecting directly to the Earth.
Even so, there is still no substitute for the overall effect of real grounding in nature. Beyond the stabilizing benefits of bare skin on the Earth’s surface, you’ll also open yourself up to the mood-lifting powers of fresh air, sunlight, and immersion in nature in general. Call this grounding in every sense of the word.
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