When I was a kid I loved getting dirty, digging in the ground, playing in mud puddles, any activity ensuring that by the end of the day I would have achieved a state of maximum grubbiness. This had the added effect of stirring the disgust of uncles, great aunts, and a considerable portion of the general adult population. More than once, and much to my satisfaction, some stuffy grownup made the observation that I could grow carrots in my ears.

Adults seemed to think that dirt was unhealthy. I staunchly disagreed.

Now, as an alleged adult myself, I still find a child-like delight in dirt. I love gardening. When I’m in the garden I feel right and when I touch the soil with my bare hands I feel even more right. This is a spiritual experience for me and I’d bet that millions of others of us who revel in the earth might not say spiritual, but they might say, mighty good.

Within the past several weeks I have discovered the feel-good spirit of the garden may be grounded (pun intentional, a puntional) in the physical realm and supported by science.

What I discovered is a book called Earthing. The ultra-condensed version goes like this:

For millions of years our ancestors walked barefoot on the earth, slept on the earth, lived in close intimacy with the earth, not unlike me as a child (the book doesn’t say that last part).

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Thousands of years ago some creative technician decided we’d all be better off with something on the bottom of our feet other than callouses. Shoes, probably via sandals and moccasins, were invented.

What we didn’t know then but know now, is that shoes insulate us from electrical connection with the earth. That can be bad for our health, but a good idea if we’re standing outside in an electrical storm.

The earth’s surface is full of negatively charged electrons. When we are insulated from these electrons the charge of our bodies is positive. Positively charged, we are less healthy. When we are electrically connected to the ground, our positive charge is neutralized.

Worms-eye view of feet on the ground. Ballet fifth position shown is not necessary for earthing. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Going barefoot in the grass is a good way to neutralize the charge. Another way is to use an earthing pad or sheet, both of which are electrically conductive. The pad or sheet can be attached to the grounding socket on an electrical wall outlet, or by running a wire outside to a metal rod driven into the ground. Any bare parts of our body contacting the pad or sheet will allow our positive charge to be neutralized.

The book has many testimonials as to the healthful effects of grounding the body. After one night of sleeping with my feet in contact with an earthing pad I was more flexible, better rested, and had no soreness on awakening. My experience is not unique.

It turns out that the grubby little boy was right, proving that following your own instincts may be more valuable than listening to the ungrounded advice of others.