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Grounded exercise for the mind and body

July 11, 2012

I’ve been working from home more often lately which allows me to do much more fun things for a break than when at the office. Two of those things are meditating or exercising in the forest park near my home, or on the grass in my backyard.

Not only is doing these activities outside a great change of pace, but it is also arguably enhances the experience both mentally and physically.

“Grounding”

Grounding is the theory that the negatively charged earth can pass electrons to the body through physical contact. There have been a handful of studies demonstrating reduced inflammation and decreased pain levels after exercise among several others.

Though the theory of why these improvements are happening seems silly to me (we are constantly grounding with objects all around us), the results of studies are intriguing. Especially when considered in the light of how spending time in the forest effects us.

Foresting

Foresting is the theory that the spending time in nature will improve ones physical and mental health. Studies have indeed shown in improvement in immunity and cancer fighting T-cells after spending as little as 20 minutes in a natural setting, up to a full months worth of boosted NK cell activity. link

My exercise experience while grounding or foresting

When I do get these work from home opportunities, and just before I break my fasting with a late lunch, I’ll exercise out on my grass or go for a run in the forest. The body weight exercises that I do are higher rep and often produce more delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) than my gym workouts do. I have noticed that when I do these exercises in the dirt and grass I have less soreness than usual. Ofcourse this could be placebo, but due to the two studies noted in above about lower inflammation and decreased post exercise pain, I can buy into the grounding theory that much more. I suggest you try it once or twice.

My runs while in the forest are just plain more fun. I’m more motivated, I’m more distracted but the nature around me, the weather, smells and terrain change constantly making the entire effort that much more fun. Some of the immune boosting effects noted above have been attributed to phytoncides present in trees, and I wouldn’t be surprised to come across the study that gives the mind euphoric sense as well.

My meditation experience while grounding or foresting

This has been a relatively new endeavor for me. But in either setting I’ve found a great way to alter my meditation for the better. When meditating in the grass of my back yard, the most difficult thing to overcome are the sounds. I can hear distant cars, birds, wind, and sometimes my neighbors if they are at home. These were, at first, unpleasant distractions. But, they became natural aspects of the world. The distracting noises were no more unnatural than the hum of the air conditioner inside my home, the tick-tock of clock, or the sounds of the house settling. In time I am able to let these noises go, I hear them but am not distracted. They actually become a pleasant part of the experience as they settle into the back of my mind.

The second most difficult aspect was the tactile sense change. Grass or dirt on my legs is much more distracting, again at first, than the carpet of my home. The breeze can also be an erratic irritant. Both the breeze, and the ground become a point of focus for me. I try to feel every blade of grass or every grain of dirt, as the breeze passes I try to feel each hair on my skin move. In these cases my meditation can feel even deeper than usual as I become ‘one’ with the nature around me.

For the non-buddhists that read, it is said that when the Buddha reached enlightenment during meditation he reached down and touched the ground with a single finger noting his unity with the earth surpassing temptation and distraction once and for all.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. July 11, 2012 2:09 pm

    Excellent post & informative. Looking forward to including this in my practice.

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