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Growing up, when I’d stay at the beach for a week, the very last place I’d go before hopping in the car to drive back home was to the water. I’d hold onto that feeling of cool sand between my toes the whole way home, and to this day it still makes up some of my fondest memories of weeks by the ocean.
Fast-forward many years and I’m sitting in a large theater amidst thousands of other attendees at Deepak Chopra’s talk, The Healing Self. Here, Deepak Chopra, M.D., F.A.C.P., co-founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing, founder of the Chopra Foundation, journalist and world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine, outlined six pillars to everyone’s well-being.
The slide flashed up on the screen and the crowd furiously began jotting down notes. I sat and took in the six bullet points, nodding my head in agreement because they affirm everything we believe in wholeheartedly and are the backbone of everything we do at aSweatLife.
- How can you increase your lifespan? Meditate regularly.
- How do you stay feeling young? Move more. Do yoga. Practice breathing techniques.
- One of the most important factors in keeping you immune system strong? Sleep.
- Where are six-packs made? In the kitchen. Nutrition fuels the core of your being in more ways than one.
- What’s the biggest predictor of health as you age? Relationships. Tap into your emotions to keep them strong.
But Chopra’s last pillar had me re-reading the screen over and over. The sixth pillar of well-being: grounding.
Immediately, my mind flashed back to sand beneath my toes, waves lapping over them, the salt that remained on my skin the entire car ride back from the beach each summer.
What is grounding, exactly?
“You feel better when you walk on the ground or on grass,” Chopra explained during the talk. “The reason you feel better is by connecting to the earth, you reset your biological rhythms.”
There are four rhythms within our body that connect us to the outside world. The point at which the rhythms of our world around us come into contact with our internal system is on the physical earth.
“In other words, our body is a symphony of the whole universe – you can’t hear the symphony, but your body is dancing to it every moment,” Chopra said.
The four biological rhythms
The first is circadian rhythm, which develops as the earth goes around its axis.
Seasonal rhythm has to do with the earth going around the sun.
Tidal rhythm is the result of the gravitational effects of the sun and the moon on our oceans. As Chopra says, “We have an ocean inside us. 70% of your body is the same thing as the oceans, exactly.”
Finally, lunar rhythm describes the result from the movements of the sun, earth and moon in relationship to each other.
The benefits to getting grounded every day
The Chopra Foundation and other research institutes have been able to conclude a few clear benefits to grounding – whether that’s through using grounding products or physically standing with bare feet on grass, sand, soil or concrete (conductive surfaces through which your body can draw on the Earth’s energy).
- Decreased inflammation and pain in your body: according to a study, after just four nights of sleeping grounded, this woman experienced 30% reduction in pain, 70% reduction in pain interfering with sleep and 30% reduction in morning stiffness and soreness. After four weeks, she experienced 80% reduction in pain, no sleep interference and 70% reduction in morning stiffness and soreness.
- Normalized levels of cortisol in your body, resulting in less stress
- Increased blood flow and therefore increased circulation throughout the body
Why you need to add “get grounded” to your calendar every day
When you’re busy, and especially if you live in an urban area where you rarely walk around outside without shoes on, it’s hard to find time to get grounded.
But as Chopra describes it, separating yourself from the physical earth can take all your rhythms – your entire system – out of balance. Sometimes, we feel that disorientation in a very blatant sense – like with jet lag.
“[Jet lag is] a little disruption in the symphony,” Chopra said.
Other times, we may not realize that we don’t feel as well as we could until we actually do feel better. And making an effort to put your feet on the ground – even for half an hour each day – can deliver physical and mental benefits to your overall well-being right away.
“When you walk on the earth, you ground yourself in the earth, which is connected to everything else, to all the other rhythms as well,” Chopra said.
Chopra recommends getting a grounding device – a pillow or sheets, for example – if you can’t get outside as frequently.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m booking a trip to the beach and STAT.