The journey of grounding/ Earthing is a curious one, one that for me began when I was a child.
I grew up in Ketchum Idaho and in one of the most pristine mountain areas in the northwest. My grandfather Ernest Hemingway and my father Jack both were dedicated outdoorsmen, loving the endless blue skies, the icy river water and the rugged terrain. My father took me hunting and fishing throughout my childhood, hiking quietly through the woods for hours.
Growing up in a home that was filled with depression, drinking and a lot of unspoken resentments is the reason the outdoors was my solace. The haunting aggression and sadness of my family lead me further from the interior walls of my home to the open landscape of the wilderness. My feelings of discomfort were my reason for loving summer and being barefoot throughout it like a wild Indian. Something my mother used to call me as I ran through the house to grab food and back outside to head to town (without shoes) the entire day. Climbing rocks in bare feet, riding bareback and swimming in the lakes and rivers…all of my activities were inadvertently connected to the incredible planet we live on.
NO SHIRTS NO SHOES NO SERVICE was the sign on the local grocery store and 90% of the summer months I had no shoes, (sometimes no shirt, another story based on looking like a little boy) but because we were kids we got away with it. The calluses on my feet were dense and strong enough to enable me to walk on any kind of terrain. I ran, played, laughed and loved summer break more than any other time of year. I felt happy energetic and inspired. I thought it was merely because I was out of school but in retrospect I see that it was because my connection to the earth in summer and early fall was a constant.
As years passed and I became a teenager, I moved to NYC after making a movie called Manhattan. I see now how my mood was deeply affected by the change in my environment. While I loved big city life I was never able to be outside without shoes and rapidly slid into depression, a dull sadness and was suffering from horrible PMS symptoms. I was desperate to get out to the country as often as possible. When I was able to get to the beach and spend a few days walking barefoot, playing barefoot, and swimming I was transformed into feeling fine and like myself again.
It wasn’t until I met my life partner Bobby Williams (in 2009) that I realized that my connection to the earth had a profound affect on my mood. I hadn’t previously put it together. I thought I just needed the outdoors, to feel the sunshine on my face, and breathe clean air which indeed was part of it but it was also that I was grounded being outside (as long as my feet were touching the earth).
I have practiced yoga and meditated for 30 plus years and when I am able to do my practice on the grass outside and meditate by a mountain stream I am deeply focused and connected. I realize now that my instinct to do my spiritual and physical practices grounded has been a saving grace for my well-being. My documentary “Running From Crazy” (co-produced by Oprah Winfrey) is an exploration into my family history and to understand the reasons for the seven suicides and addiction that have plagued the family for generations. In the film, I walk barefoot and explain my life and my dissection of where I came from while negotiating rocks pebbles and a dusty trail. That was filmed in 2011 (released in 2013) and everyday since I have become more dedicated to the practice of walking barefoot.
But let me be clear, though I knew it was helpful, I wasn’t fully grasping how incredible the connection was for my mental health, physical energy and stability. Even after writing a book (“Running With Nature”) with Bobby about lifestyle (food, water, nature, exercise, silence, and sleep), and with barefoot walking one of the highlights, I still didn’t get it. It wasn’t until I did an interview for the film Earthing at the invitation of my good friends and film makers Rebecca and Josh Tickell, that I realized the fundamental and foundational importance that grounding has had and has in my life. That was in early 2019. Since then I sleep on a grounded mat which I place just below my fitted sheet. Bobby and I also walk outside with our dogs on the local trails in Malibu and in Idaho for at least 45 minutes and sometimes two hours a day. I feel so energized barefoot that I honestly could go for hours if I could afford the time.
When I started my dedicated practice of walking barefoot I was tender footed and had to talk myself slowly through some rocky terrain but now for the most part I confidently walk on the trail and the results are amazing to me.
At 57 years old I have taken only one medication my entire life and that is Armour thyroid (for hypothyroid a condition I was diagnosed with 18 years ago). Low (or no in my case) thyroid is suffered by millions of women because of the environment, the poor quality of food, plastic in our food and water and voila our lack of connection to the frequency of the earth. I am now beginning to understand that we are all electrical beings and when we don’t ground, those free radicals have no place to go but to attack our electrons creating inflammation. And the outcome of inflammation is pain, sometimes disease, rapid aging, poor sleep and digestion issues and sadness. It has unique affect on each individual so that is not a diagnosis just an observation that when we are not balanced in our mental and physical health we might manifest some of these issues. I am so grateful for my innate tendency to ground. And within months of sleeping grounded I was able to cut my thyroid medication in half.
My energy level is high, my mood stellar and I haven’t had a hot flash in the middle of the night since I began. You may or may want to know this but I actually have had two very normal periods as well, which is a source of perplexity to me as I thought that was certainly a thing of the past. Curious situation indeed.
I also have suffered with a sore or compromised lower back the last 15 to 20 years and sometimes a few times a year my back would go out. I thought it might have been my intense yoga practice or the result of too much hiking, or running but again since sleeping grounded and walking outside religiously I have no issue with my back at all. No matter what kind of workout I do.
Finally my latest revelation is that since grounding my face looks different. I am not sure why but my skin color is better and my skin looks firmer and plumper. I now wake up to “wow I look better,” instead of “OMG, what the hell is that on my cheek?”
I believe that what is happening to me is extraordinary and although I am extremely healthy I feel that grounding is shifting my quality of life to one of gaining life force, energy and vitality in a real and tangible way. I am literally grounded to the core and loving what that continues to mean for me.
Click here to read my article about the benefits of earthing on mental health.