People who work barefoot in the garden or walk barefoot along the beach often experience a special sense of well being, just from being in direct physical contact with the earth. Some teachers of ancient practices such as Yoga and Qigong recommend that all exercises be done while barefoot on the earth. There is no comparison between walking, running, or practicing any form of movement therapy or martial arts indoors and doing the same activities with bare feet in direct contact with the earth. Why should this be the case? The significance of barefoot contact with the earth has been known since ancient times. Native American elders have discussed this in their traditional story telling:
It was good for the skin to touch the bare earth, and the old people liked to remove their moccasins and walk with their bare feet on the sacred Earth…they sat on the ground with the feeling of being close to a mothering power…the soil was soothing, strengthening, cleansing and healing.
—Luther Standing Bear (1868–1939) Sioux Tribal Leader
In the late nineteenth century, a back-to-nature movement in Germany claimed many health benefits from being barefoot outdoors, even in cold weather. In the 1920s, George Starr White, MD, investigated the practice of sleeping grounded after being informed by some individuals that they could not sleep properly,“unless they were on the ground or connected to the ground in some way,” such as with copper wires attached to grounded-to-Earth water, gas, or radiator pipes. White reported that sleep improved with these techniques. However, these ideas never caught on in mainstream society.
A modern Yoga teacher says that the benefits of walking barefoot on the earth include:
- A better balance in our nervous systems
- Improved circulation
- Reduction in inflammation in our bodies
- It is the ultimate antioxidant!
Throughout history, humans mostly walked barefoot or with footwear made of animal skins (moccasins). They slept on the ground or on animal hides. We shall see that recent research confirms the health advantages they achieved by this lifestyle and explains why this happens. Through direct contact or through perspiration- dampened and electrically conductive animal skins used as footwear or sleeping pads, the ground’s abundant free electrons were able to enter their bodies, which are electrically conductive. Through this mechanism, every part of the body can equilibrate with the electrical potential of the earth, thereby stabilizing the electrical environment of all organs, tissues, cells and molecules, and providing a key ingredient needed for the operation of the immune system.
– James L. Oschman, Gaetan Chevalier