An Excerpt from The Book of SHE by Sara Avant Stover
In order to connect with ourselves, we need to first connect to the earth. This process, called earthing, stands as one of the most important self-care practice we can do each day. When we’re cut off from the earth, we’re also cut off from our bodies, and then we can’t hear our inner wisdom telling us what we need to do next. We’re disconnected from our greatest inner resource — our embodied sense of home and wholeness.
Once again, scientific studies now tout what sages have known for centuries — there are tremendous physical benefits to earthing. Simply putting our bare feet on the ground outside for ten to twenty minutes a day helps to reduce chronic inflammation, the primary cause of virtually all diseases. Since our skin serves as a conductor, when we touch any part of our skin to the earth, free electrons — the most powerful antioxidants available — flow from the earth into our bodies. Clinical studies have shown grounding experiments to cause beneficial changes in heart rate, decreased skin resistance, and decreased levels of inflammation.
Earthing also helps to placate us emotionally and mentally by shifting our nervous system out of a stress response and into its parasympathetic, or “rest and digest,” mode. Just as crying babies calm down when we hold them, we too calm down when we feel held. Since it’s not always possible for another human being to hold us, we have to extend our awareness to what is already always holding us — the earth herself.
When it’s warm enough here in Colorado, I love practicing yoga barefoot in my backyard. If I’m in the throes of a busy day and feeling scattered, I’ll simply take a ten-minute break from my workday. I go outside, take off my shoes and socks, stand on the grass in a patch of sunlight, and do the visualization I offer next. I always return to my desk feeling more energized, relaxed, and in touch with my inner resources.
One of the many wonderful advantages of the practice of earthing is that you can do it anytime, anywhere. You don’t need a patch of grass to do it! I did it when I waited for the teakettle to boil this morning and when I sat down at my desk to write. You can do it in the shower, even while waiting in line at a café. If you want to test yourself to see whether or not you’ve shifted your center of gravity from your head to your belly center, lift up one foot and close your eyes. If you can balance, you’re in your belly.
It’s empowering to recognize that the earth lives within you, always. Upon learning this exercise, Adrianne, one of the sisters in the SHE School, observed,
I always associated earthing with my feet growing roots down to the earth only. It was very helpful to know that grounding comes from our belly. When I pinpointed the spot, it made all the sense in the world! I think for most of my life when I felt that rumble or sinking feeling in my belly, I thought I was hungry, so I just ate something. Now I see that in those cases what I’m really hungry for is a grounded connection to myself.
Like Adrianne, when you pause to actually feel your belly, you’re able to give yourself the deeper kind of nourishment that it’s usually asking for.
Cultivating an Inner Sense of “Home”
When first learning to feel at home within ourselves, we need calm, soothing environments to help us get grounded. In the SHE School, I asked women what helps them to feel like they’re “home.” Here are some of their responses:
•Walking outside among the trees
•Camping and sleeping outside
•My meditation cushion
•My yoga practice
•Playing with my nieces and nephews
•Cuddling with my dog
•Watching a movie in bed
•My husband’s chicken soup
•Swimming in the ocean
There’s nothing complicated about any of these things. Most are available to us every day. The more we immerse ourselves in these outer safe refuges, the more we’re able to mirror them inwardly. Then when we find ourselves feeling like we’re falling through the air with nothing to take hold of (as will always be the case during our initiations), we’re able to more easily cultivate a sense of ground within the only steady refuge we ever have — our own bodies.
Sara Avant Stover is the author of The Book of SHE and The Way of the Happy Woman. A pioneer in contemporary women’s work, she has been featured in Yoga Journal, Newsweek, and Natural Health and on ABC, NBC, and CBS. Visit her online at thewayofthehappywoman.com.
Excerpted from The Book of She: Your Heroine’s Journey into the Heart of Feminine Power ©2015 Sara Avant Stover. Printed with permission of New World Library. www.newworldlibrary.com