I love the mountains. Last sunday a friend and I went for a hike nearby to where I life in the South of Germany. It was a wonderful and very warm sunny late summer day in the most beautiful colors that nature has to offer. We walked for five minutes and then he had the idea to take our shoes off and give it a try walking barefoot to the top of the mountain. 

I walked differently without shoes. I walked much more slowly and took each of my steps very consciously. I enjoyed feeling the different compositions of the ground: the soft grass, the smooth and sometimes rather sharp-edged stones, the change between warm and cold, dry and damp ground. We walked over lush green soft meadows and then again, we sank into the mud up to our knees. I need to admit that after a while my feet were quite ‘upset’. I mean when was the last time I walked barefoot like this? I am simply not used to it. 

However, it rather felt like an ‘healing, energizing’ upset, which was definitely nourishing my whole body, my mind, my soul

It was as if my senses had awoken. I felt present, full of energy, strong, and at one with myself and this beautiful nature. 

It felt like a dialogue between my feet and the ground they were walking on, like there was a real exchange happening. 

I loved it! I felt so nourished and happy. Two days later we did another hike, again without shoes. 

In fact, this sensation of an exchange between my feet and the soil wasn’t just one of imagination, what occurred to me back home is that it’s based on facts. Let me give you some more context…

Already a couple of years ago I discovered a book while I was sitting in the waiting room of my osteopath. The author Clinton Ober suggests that we need to live in contact with the earth’s natural surface charge in order to stay healthy, a phenomenon he terms ‘earthing’. He explains that an exchange occurs between the feet and the Earth when we walk barefoot. The sole of the foot is covered with some one thousand three hundred nerve endings per square inch. Every moment spent walking or standing barefoot affects a sensory response that puts us in touch with the Earth’s energy, and the same goes for exposing any other parts of the body to the Earth.

We actually extract energy from the Earth as the root of a plant would suck up moisture from the ground.

The Earth’s electrical impulses are important for our health, our mood, our sleep, our appetite and our attitude.

What a great insight I find. It doesn’t only explain my mountain barefoot experience, but also my inclination to lean on trees, lie stretched out in the grass, swimming in mountain creeks, in lakes, in oceans, and again walking barefoot on grassy or earthy areas.

I often go out in nature when feeling stressed, driven and with a ruminating mind and as soon as I connect myself to the Earth, I start feeling like a human being again.

The author stated something else that gave me cause to reflect; namely, the soles of shoes made of non-conductive materials such as rubber and plastic stop us from sensing the ground’s energy (the closest we have ever come to an ‘ideal’ shoe is the lightweight leather, soft-sole and heelless moccasin).

Nowadays we aren’t connected. We live on Earth, but most of us don’t ever touch it anymore.

Throughout all of human history people have maintained a direct physical connection with the Earth – the skin of our bodies touching the skin of the Earth. We walked barefoot and slept right on the ground. At all times we were naturally charged with the healing energy of the Earth. Most shoes cut this energy off from us.

That’s powerful. I’d never really consciously thought about it from that perspective before, and at the same time it’s starting to become pretty clear how conditioned I am. Wearing shoes is such a common thing in society and I’ve never thought to question it. 

I met my neighbour in our garden yesterday and we got talking about earthing and wearing shoes. She said that her little daughter loved to walk barefoot all day long. Whenever she wants her to wear shoes, she always kicks them off immediately. Shoes are just simply not an option. 

Isn’t it interesting how children, when they are not yet conditioned to wearing shoes, naturally and intuitively want to connect with nature? How they sense what’s good for themselves?

Of course, I will carry on wearing shoes and I must admit that I love my Chucks and my FlipFlops, both of which are definitely made from non-conductive materials.

Yet for me it’s about finding the right balance and consciously making more frequent choices to go out and ‘earth’ myself on a regular basis. 

I can still feel the impact it had on me when hiking barefoot: the presence I felt, the energy, the strength and happiness within, and the connection with myself and with nature. I don’t want to let that feeling or its impact on my health go.

So what’s your ‘earthing’ experience? Let’s inspire each other…