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Grounding vs Earthing: the Difference, Healing Benefits and Practices

Updated: Sep 22, 2022

Have you heard some say they feel ungrounded or “need to ground”? The notion of “grounding” has resurfaced as a buzzword/phrase in recent years, but there seems to be confusion around what it is, the two forms, and practical practices for both types.

What is grounding or earthing in therapy?

Grounding comes in two forms, one is psychological and the other is physiological; both forms have a direct impact on our auric field. In the psychological sense, it is the art of being in the present moment and living in the now. Physiologically grounding, or what is more formally called earthing, is tapping into the electromagnetic currency of the planet and surface electrons to recalibrate and amplify our personal energetic field. While there is a definition differentiation between the two forms with each having their own list of practices and benefits, the act of grounding can be incredibly powerful to mind, body and spirit when both forms are practiced, particularly when done simultaneously.

Psychological Grounding: Mindfulness & Being Present

In this form, to be grounded is to be anchored in a particular place in space and time with the release of any and all distractors and stressors both externally and internally that are not serving you at the present moment. Most people, myself included, tend to live in the past or the future rather than where they are now. This trap is the inability to truly “let go” of what once was and/or always looking forward to what is on the horizon (often anxiously) while the present slips by with hardly a second glance in the overwhelm. Living presently allows us to think more clearly, peer through fear and make better judgment calls, and diminishes the likelihood of regret later on. Make no mistake, living in the present is no easy feat to accomplish, it takes dedication and practice to turn down the volume of everything else fighting for your attention including your own internal dialogue.

How do we do it? We use a variety of practices to tune out the world and ground ourselves.

Here are 5 practices you can begin using today that will aid in bringing your attention to the present moment, taking control of your thoughts, and stabilizing your auric field.

How do you do grounding at home?

Breath work involves focusing on your breath and bodily sensations from inhalation and exhalation. Mindful breathing allows us to direct, stabilize and sustain our focus by training our attention, as well as slowing down and controlling our body’s internal activity and reaction to stimuli. Breathe work is a basic meditation practice that acts as an anchor for a wandering mind. Checkout Breathwork: the Art of Spiritual Breathing

Meditation, both active and passive, is an amazing tool for slowing down brainwave states and fine tuning our mind and body to that of calmness and focus in a sensory overloaded environment. It grounds us by quieting the voice in our head and shifts how we are experiencing the present moment and our day as a whole. Meditation can be practiced anywhere, does not require any special equipment, and even a simple 5 minutes here and there throughout the day can make a significant impact on our mind, body and spirit. Subscribe to receive notice of the upcoming blog post on the different types of meditation and finding what works best for you.

Tree Root Visualization. There are a variety of visualizations that can be used for grounding, by far one of the best (if not the best) is the tree root visualization that is often used by therapists and counselors for overcoming overwhelm and anxiety. During this visualization exercise, you imagine yourself as a tree with a solid, strong trunk and your feet anchored firmly to the earth by way of an intricate root system that extends down through the layers of the Earth to its core. Here is a wonderful 5 minute audio guided tree root visualization, and another in detailed written form by licensed therapist Maysie Tift.

How do you practice grounding?

Tapping into your physical senses is a fantastic way to immediately snap yourself into the present and what you are experiencing with the physical world rather than with the mental and emotional which can be incredibly overwhelming and leave us feeling lofty. Stop what you are doing right now and humor me for a minute (or two).

1. Look around you. What do you see with your eyes? What colors, shapes, light reflections, shadows, textures, movements, etc are you able to shift your focus to?

2. Do you smell anything? Grab the closest piece of cloth material and hold it to your nose. Do you notice any faint hints of laundry soap, perfume or something else? What else is in your environment that may register a scent?

3. What faint sounds can you hear? Are there birds outside, the ticking of clock or perhaps it’s only the sound of your breath.

4. Take a moment to notice the taste in your mouth, and then take a bite of food (or take a slow sip of coffee if you’re like me). How would you describe the taste in your mouth now? Did your taste affect your smell or vice-versa?

5. Now close your eyes and touch a surface near you. What does it feel like? Is it cold or warm, smooth or rough, fluffy or hard? Explore different objects and surfaces around you focusing only on the way it feels to the touch of your hand or cheek.

Anytime you are feeling anxious, overwhelmed or just need to pull yourself into the present moment, do the Five-Senses Exercise by noticing, focusing on, and exploring 5 things that you can see, then 4 things that you can feel, followed by 3 things that you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and finally 1 thing that you can taste. This is a great exercise to practice daily through food and drink (particularly by cooking the meal yourself) or by getting outdoors and into nature!

What does grounding do to your body?

Get outdoors and bask in negative ions! Negative ions are molecules floating in the air that have been charged with electricity, and they are incredibly beneficial for our mind, body and spirit. They are believed to increase levels of serotonin in our system, helping to relieve stress and alleviate depression, relieve stress; they are often referred to as “nature’s antidepressant.” There are certain areas in nature that produce more negative ions like the ocean, waterfalls and rapids where water is actively churning, the forest and densely green populated areas. There is a reason so many people feel like they are more themselves and in their element when they are in nature, particularly high negative ions count areas; they are psychologically and physiologically grounding without even trying.

While you're outdoors soaking in these negative ions, go ahead and take advantage of this prime opportunity to practice your breath work, tapping into your 5 senses, and the tree root visualization (meditation) for as long as you can hold it. It’s even better if you do this barefoot while sitting or lying on the bare Earth to simultaneously engage physiological grounding, aka earthing.

Physiological Grounding: Earthing

What is the difference between earthing and grounding?

Earthing is the physiological connection with the Earth through the drawing in of electrical energy residing on the surface of the planet via free electrons fluctuating in frequencies. These electrons move through the body via the meridian system, sweat glands, bloodstream, connective tissue, and autonomic nervous system. This form of grounding provides the body with essential electrical energy, resets our biological clock, as well as cleansing and strengthening the Layers of the Aura. Every living thing on this planet draws this energy into its being through its feet, paws, pads, hooks or roots. There are 1,300 nerves per square inch on the bottom of the human feet, more than anywhere else in our body. So when we are barefoot on the bare ground, our sensory receptors have us naturally plugged into the electromagnetic layer on the Earth’s surface. Our feet are literally keeping us “in touch” with the world in which we live, and our body is acting as an antennae in the midst of an electrical relationship with all other living things. Earthing serves as a vital link in our proper functioning just like electrical equipment needs grounding to function.

According to research, earthing brings a greater sense of wellbeing and vitality, a reduction in stress levels, increase in overall calmness, improved sleep behaviors and patterns, improved circulation and energy, immune system bolstering, reduction in nervous system disorder symptoms, improvements in respiratory ailments, pain and inflammation reduction, headache and migraine reduction and/or elimination, reduction in gastrointestinal disorder/disease symptoms, reduction in stiffness of the body and various forms of arthritis, accelerated injury or wound healing, and the list goes on!

“Consistently reconnecting with the Earth restores a natural source of energy to your body that has been missing in your life. This missing energy may be the core cause of chronic inflammation and pain in your body, a malfunctioning nervous system, or some unresolved personal health issue.” - Ober

Unfortunately, the vast majority of the world is no longer in direct contact with the Earth and this vital energy source for our proper functioning. We no longer sleep on natural materials on the ground; we wear shoes that hinder our natural gait and are made from materials like rubber that actually block out our sensory response rather than facilitate it; we no longer bathe in natural springs; indoor activities (often electronic) have replaced outdoor pastimes; and cement lined pools filled with sanitized water have replaced local swimming holes. During the same period that people have increasingly become disconnected from Earth, there has been a significant increase in chronic inflammation, the known and/or suspected underlying cause of over 100 chronic illnesses including major diseases and killers like cancer. Clint Ober, author of Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever, calls earthing the “missing link” for restoring our health and hardiness, and the “Holy Grail” for curing inflammation.

There are a variety of ways to ground using the earthing method for grounding.

How can I practice earthing?

Barefoot - the number one way is to slip your shoes off and get outside barefoot! While your feet and hands are better equipped for the job because of the number of nerve endings (sensory receptors) they have, technically any body part will suffice as long as it is making direct contact with the natural Earth; soil, grass, sand, mud, etc. You can sit, stand, lie down, dig your hands in, or even bury yourself up to your neck like a kid at the beach. You can make the conductivity stronger and more effective by dampening the natural material with water beforehand. You might be surprised by what ditching shoes can do for you. Checkout barefoot FAQs, myths, research, Health Codes and OSHA info, and more through the Society for Barefoot Living.

What is the purpose of earthing?

Water - with water being a significant conductor of energy, do your best to expose any part of your body (or all) to any natural water source; streams, lakes, rivers, or the ocean whenever you can. Salt water is particularly powerful as salt crystals are in fact crystals that have a crystalline structure, and crystals are amazing energy conductors! Pools with sanitized water sources and conductivity blockers (i.e. cement, plastic, fiberglass, etc) are useless. Learn more about what is negatively impacting your energy field and ways to protect yourself here.

Barefoot Substitutes - with the recognition of the immense importance of earthing and the grounding movement taking off, a variety of earthing products have hit the market. These products are intended to make earthing more readily available and accessible to those living in harsh weather conditions, those with a disability that prevent them from getting outdoors, or those that just want to spend more time practicing earthing while being indoors (ie. stuck at a computer desk or while sleeping). From bed mats, sheets, sleeping bags, mattresses, foot mats, body patches, pet pads, and even shoes, the list of earthing products (and producers) continues to grow. I strongly recommend you buy from a reputable source like the Earthing Institute to ensure that the product has been thoroughly tested and does what it says it does. Not ready to ditch the shoes? Earth Runners is a well known and trusted earthing shoe for those that are looking to maximize their connection while still wearing shoes.

How long should you earthing?

When it comes to earthing, you want to maintain the connection for at least 30 minutes at a time for a minimum of 2-3 times per day, though the more often you connect the more benefit you receive! The worse off your health is, the more important it is for you to ground more often and for longer durations. The same is true for those that have been more disconnected. While your body will begin responding immediately, it may take some time for the response to be strong enough for you to recognize it. Just because you “don’t feel any different”, doesn’t mean you aren’t any different. Know that the effects are not permanent, this is something that will need to be done regularly to reap the benefits, and the dose is directly proportional to the outcome. Don’t stress about if it’s working or how it’s working, your body will take what it needs and distribute it where it sees fit. Likewise, you’re not going to overdose on earthing (there are still indigenous people in the world that are in constant contact at all times). However, because of the documented effects on the body, those who are on medication for blood thinning, glucose control, the thyroid, and anti-inflammatories require closer monitoring according to Ober.

Grounding & Earthing Tips!

  1. Learn to recognize and/or pay attention to when you are experiencing signs of needing to ground (both forms), and have a plan of action.

  2. Commit to making the time for practicing breathwork, meditation, and visualization so that you can better employ them on the spot as needed.

  3. Start and end each day with a 5 minute meditation where you are able to practice your controlled breath and tree root visualization followed by the 5 senses exercise to bring you back into physical awareness. Bonus points for doing this outside while barefoot!

  4. Commit to getting outside barefoot at least once a day (as much as possible is even better).

  5. Consider earthing substitutes that you will actually use and get the most benefit out of. You don’t need all of them, and you don’t want to spend money on something that is never going to get used (looking at you Mr. Can of Lima Beans still sitting in the cabinet from covid mania spring 2020).

  6. Keep a journal of your journey and see what subtle differences (or significant) you start to notice as you progress in your grounding practices.

“Free Your Feet & Your Mind Will Follow”

~ Society for Barefoot Living

This blog post is post 5 of a series covering the parts of the energy body (aura), various ways to work with it for optimal mind, body and spirit health, and using it to better connect to Universal energy and awareness for mindful living. Subscribe and you’ll be the first to know when the next blog posts drop.

Looking for something more specific to you and your unique energetic and spiritual hygiene needs?

I offer Custom Healing Crystal Consults for this very thing! Checkout this 30 day plan where I walk you through day-by-day what crystals to use, how to use them, and additional modalities to incorporate for maximum impact on your auric health and chakras HERE.



© Brandy Rachelle

Uncredited images from my personal collection or stock images


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