Patty De Llosa (Lef) and Marion Woodman (Right)
Connecting to the energies that ground and nourish
Coming Down to Earth by Patty de Llosa
Earth’s crammed with heaven…. But only he who sees takes off his shoes. —Elizabeth Barrett Browning
When I’m in need of more energy, whether for soul-searching or to complete the tasks of the day, I am often faced with the practical difficulty of a tired or complaining body. Then I remember the American Indian grace my small children said before lunch many years ago at a Rudolf Steiner School:
From well–watered earth,
From radiant sun,
Comes strength to carry the spirit.
A powerful reminder, although it took a while for me to learn why. Over time I discovered that my body is my earth, and that it is, or can be, a true friend. But everything seems to depend on our relationship. Is there respect between head and body, as well as give and take? Or is the head sitting high up on a throne, ordering the body around?
Sometimes I can find a better relationship between them by letting go of yesterday in order to be who I am now, not who I was. Yet I’m often pulled back into how I used to be, or tensing into the future in order to change what I don’t like at the moment. So, whenever I wake up to the fact that I’m just standing there trying to decide what to do next, or waiting in line at a supermarket checkout, it’s a good time to focus on my Body Being, acknowledging her presence, sometimes even asking her, like a friend, how she’s doing.
Coming Down to Earth by Patty de Llosa Connecting to the energies that ground and nourish. Photograph by Merri J.
Truth is, a better relationship is urgently necessary between head and body, especially as we get older, achier, and not so hearty. A central problem is that we resist the fact that the body works best when it does only one thing at a time, trying hard to perform what the mind asks. Mind often complains—even heckles—wanting to get several things done at once. Why not choose instead to celebrate the fact that conscious attention to our physical movements will always bring us back into the present moment?
What’s more, there’s a lack of real feeling in hurried encounters and rushed solutions to momentary needs. Yet nothing brings us closer to reality than returning to what’s really going on at any moment in head, heart, and body. Not to judge it, but to acknowledge it. So, for example, if I’m under pressure to go somewhere but really have to wash the dishes or write an email before I leave the apartment, but turn wholly to the job at hand, the frustration may morph into a sense of fulfillment.
A more conscious relationship between mind and body gifts us with a new level of partnership. The other day in physical therapy I was trying to improve my balance by standing on one leg on a shifting pad. It was hard! But when I remembered that the earth is a great magnet and turned all my attention on my legs and feet, energy surged up from the ground in support. The body stopped wiggling and became peacefully vertical. Standing under an inner sun Sometimes it’s not the body that needs to find strength to carry the spirit. We also have to struggle to find the heart to keep going, to bear all that’s coming at us, and even more to process it.
At such times light and clarity are desperately needed, as well as darkness for rest and healing. Although we think of day and night, sun, moon, and stars as outside us, what if we could take the largeness of the cosmos inside? An inner sun could help light our way forward. The sun of conscious awareness could provide guidance, while moon, stars, and darkness offer a different kind of space. Not a threatening darkness, but one lit with unknown possibilities, as St. John of the Cross pointed out in his Dark Night of the Soul:
As a traveler into strange countries goes by ways strange and untried, relying on information derived from others, and not upon any knowledge of his own—it is clear that he will never reach a new country but by new ways which he knows not, and by abandoning those he knew—so in the same way the soul makes the greater progress when it travels in the dark, not knowing the way.1
And more recently C. G. Jung invited us to reexamine our exaggerated focus on light when he said that, “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious.”2
Dark and Light, Nature and Consciousness. In inner sun offers the light of Mind Wisdom while Mother Earth provides strength and energy from lower down. Sun energy helps us face truth and embrace life fully, while earth energy fills us with vitality and gives us the strength to become more vulnerable to reality. And between the two—ever circling between light and darkness—stands the human being, poised to meet the world with a compassionate heart.
One recent summer day, faced with a difficult decision, I stood in the park and raised my arms with palms toward the sun—a Qigong position that calls down cosmic energy to nurture the head brain.
Suddenly it was as if a ray from the sun filled the palm of my hand, shot down my arm and entered my heart. Instant relief; quiet intensity; deep feeling. I sat on a nearby bench and came to terms with what I had to do.
Barefoot in the Park
If it is true that I am Earth, and Heaven lives and moves in me, it follows that spirit is not ours—it comes from another level. As young children, we found spirit everywhere we looked, felt, or sensed. Everything outer attracted—everything offered excitement, terror, or information. But as we grew, for our own soul’s sake, we had to find a way to turn toward the spirit within us, on another level. Deeper than information. Higher than terror.
One way to do this is to focus literally on the patch of earth where I stand. Native Americans and shamans all over the world visualize the earth as a giant, conscious, living being with tremendous power to heal. And according to the Oglala Sioux, when our bare hands or feet touch the earth we “move into harmony with nature.”
While scientists often take a while to catch up with ancient knowledge, they have come to agree on the importance of this, which they call earthing or grounding. Their current theory is built on the fact that our bodies contain some sixty-percent water on average, which acts as an electrical conduit to earth’s negative ionic charge. That’s why we feel better when any part of us touches the grounding. Their current theory is built on the fact that our bodies contain some
sixty-percent water on average, which acts as an electrical conduit to earth’s negative ionic charge. That’s why we feel
better when any part of us touches the ground.
Scientist James Oschman, author of Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis, and Energy Medicine in Therapeutics and Human Performance, wrote in the former that “In a few decades scientists have gone from a conviction that there is no such thing as an energy field around the human body to an absolute certainty that it exists.”3 He explains that there is a continually flowing current from the ionosphere to the earth. “From the top of your head to the earth’s surface, there is a potential you don’t feel,” he says, “because it doesn’t cause any particular current to flow, even though it can be a couple of hundred volts. And depending on the changes in weather, that potential can go up from a hundred to 10,000 volts per meter.”4
That means that when our bare feet make direct contact with the earth’s energy field, our bodies become equalized to its energy level or potential, which gradually synchronizes our internal biological clocks, hormonal cycles, and physiological rhythms. Continuing research on how to access earth’s energy can be found at the Earthing Institute (http://www.earthinginstitute.net).5
An anti-oxidant defense system
This scientific focus on earthing began when retired cable-TV executive Clint Ober figured out that ever since people have worn synthetic-soled shoes, their bodies have been insulated from the very energy field that stabilizes not only cable TV but all industrial and residential electrical equipment throughout the world. He wondered whether the human body might benefit from similar grounding. And it does. Our immune system functions best when the body has an adequate supply of earth’s free electrons—the antioxidants that are a major weapon against disease.
Here’s how it works: when we go barefoot, our bodies take in and store earth’s electrons because we contain what’s called ground substance—a gellike material that hoards electrons and is part of our connective tissue. However, since we can’t go barefoot outside all the time, various conductive systems have recently been developed that can ground us indoors to the same electrical charge as earth’s surface. An earthing sheet on the bed grounds us while we sleep and a mat under our bare feet when we work at a desk.
Our bodies are, in fact, an antioxidant defense system. What happens in one corner of us will affect all the others, and the properties of the whole depend on the integrated activities of all of its parts. In other words, the earth-based electrons that enter our bare feet can move anywhere in the body. They can neutralize a free radical wherever it forms, as well as prevent mitochondrial damage, crosslinking of proteins, and mutation or genetic damage.
There’s plenty of science behind how grounding on Mother Earth can balance the immune system and reduce pain, because it affects various circulating chemical factors related to inflammation—the primary cause of many diseases. According to Oschman, Inflammation, which in medicine is considered an important part of the healing process, is really an artifact caused by lack of electrons in your tissues.
The neutrophils deliver the free radicals to the site of injury in what’s referred to as an oxidative burst. They are like Pac-Man—very important molecules that tear things apart. If bacteria have entered through your skin, these free radicals will destroy them very quickly. If you have damaged cells, the free radicals will break them apart so that there is a space for healthy cells to move in and repair the tissues.6
Nevertheless, free radicals are a central issue in aging, because they damage the body through injury, chronic inflammation, poor breathing habits, and the food we eat, among other things. So a healthy balance between antioxidant electrons and free radicals sounds like just what the doctor would order. And he does. Dr. Stephen Sinatra, a cardiologist certified in anti-aging medicine and nutrition, is also an expert in energy medicine. He tells us that earthing may enhance the production and recycling of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in our bodies, which will improve the functioning of our cardiovascular and immune systems, and slow down the process of aging by the same principle underlying metabolic cardiology.
What’s exciting is that you can invite those healing electrons into your body simply by standing with bare feet on the ground. “Grounding or earthing protects your body from what I call collateral damage,” Oschman points out. “Damage that was not intended to take place but happens because we have disconnected ourselves from the Earth by putting rubber and plastic on the bottoms of our shoes.”7
While the need to reconnect ourselves to the earth—to Mother Nature—is seldom held in awe and reverence nowadays, as human activity ravages the planet and its creatures, perhaps this new call from science—on the importance of bringing earth and sky together to nourish humanity—will be heard. It has been a central message in Qigong, tai chi, and other Eastern spirituality for thousands of years, as well as in Egyptian theology.
Kepri in the Tomb of Nefertari, vestibule east wall. Valley of the Queens, Egypt
God of the Morning Sun
Kepri—the dung beetle whose very name comes from the verb to develop, come into being, or create—is a symbol of birth, life, death, and resurrection.
Egyptians considered Kepri the God of the Morning Sun, worshipping sun and lowly dung beetle together. A member of the scarab family, the Kepri appears fully formed out of dung, which led it to be considered a god-partner of the sun, since both are reborn from nothingness every morning.
Dung beetles use the sun for guidance while rolling their dung ball, and often stop, climb on it to orient themselves, then climb back down to push the ball onward. In one Egyptian myth, it is the god Kepri, a humanoid figure with the face of a dung beetle, who rolls the sun across the sky, pushing it down into the underworld at sunset, and digging it back up at dawn.8
Grounding and clarity, coming up from below and down from above, to enrich the compassionate heart. We too can water our own earth and nourish our own inner sun in order to develop the strength we need to carry the spirit. In that direction lies hope for a better future when the going gets rough.
1 St. John of the Cross, Dark Night of the Soul, Chapter XVI, section 8, https://www.ccel.org/ccel/john_cross/dark_night.viii.xvi.html.
2 Jung, C. G., Collected Works Volume 13, Alchemical Studies, Princeton University Press, 1968.
3 Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis (Churchill Livingstone, 2000), p. 27.
4 Oschman, James, interview
5 More about earth energy can be found in my latest book, Awakening Body Consciousness.
6 Oschman, op. cit.
7 Oschman, op cit.
8 Hill, J., ancientegyptonline.co.uk/kepri, 2010 article.