Health by Nature – A Shift in the Wellness Paradigm
By Cierra Bloom, LAT, ATC, MS, CES
In today’s society, it is typical to go to the doctor after a problem has already developed. Based on the issue, the doctor usually prescribes a medicine to treat the symptom and we are sent on our way. But what if we could prevent these problems in the first place? Taking care of our bodies with functional and integrative approaches will allow us to look, feel, and live better; and prevent and protect our bodies from a lot of issues from ever occurring.
We need more health professionals who are willing to look at the body as a whole, functional unit, and support a holistic view on health. For example, in the case of muscles, all soft tissue is connected through layers of fascia called myofascial slings. A problem in the knee or shoulder can very well lead to pain in the back. Go even deeper with this concept, and it is easy to see how physically, psychologically, socially, and spiritually connected we are. Social, spiritual, or mental stress can manifest as symptoms such as chronic pain or insomnia and vice versa.
It’s easy to look at someone with back pain, not knowing the cause of it, and inject them with a steroid. In the case of anxiety and depression, most physicians are quick to prescribe an anti-anxiety or antidepressant medication.
This is a western or “reductionist” approach to health. However, in eastern medicine, the patient would more than likely be prescribed meditation, acupuncture, or methods for enhancing their diet or exercise routine to combat these physical and mental symptoms.
Historically, eastern medicine is typically very holistic in nature. Even in the west, the Native Americans believe that healing comes from being in harmony with the earth. Although these concepts have been lost in modern medicine, I think it is time to go back to these natural ways of viewing our health. Between heart disease due to lack of exercise and fast-food diets, lung conditions from smoke and pollution, and cancer from many different causes, these can often be prevented by making lifestyle changes.
The way humans have evolved, we have lost touch with ourselves and with nature and the important connection the two have with each other, by being caught up in the bustle of life as we know it.
How can we implement these historical philosophies into our modern-day wellness? Between the pandemic, rioting, and pollution, our earth and country are being destroyed through unrest, unwellness, and uncertainty. Our bodies are becoming weakened from the resulting stress of the virus, the quarantine, and from civil turmoil. From essential oils and flower essences, to herbal medicine and raw organic diets, there are many ways to become more harmonized with the earth’s energy. Then there are things like mindfulness training, breathwork, and exploring nature that connects us to ourselves.
One technique that I strongly believe encompasses both aspects of this philosophy is grounding, or earthing. This is when we walk barefoot or sit with our bare skin touching the natural earth (grass, sand, dirt), or a conductive mat. The earth, and everything that inhabits it, is made up of energy and specific vibrational frequencies.
This direct contact with the ground, allows for a transfer of the earth’s energy to the energy in our bodies, thus harmonizing us with the earth’s vibrational frequency (Menigoz, Latz, Ely, Kamei, Melvin, & Sinatra, 2020).
Grounding has been found to have many benefits for various conditions and illnesses. It is now clear that inflammation is the main contributor to most of today’s health and pain disorders. The transfer of energy from the earth to our bodies allows negatively charged ions to neutralize the free radicals that cause inflammation. There are various studies showing potential benefits of grounding on cardiovascular, respiratory, and nervous system function, as well as decreasing anxiety, depression, and pain (Menigoz, et al, 2020).
Also, with the threat of Covid-19 still upon us, research is showing that grounding may be helpful in reducing the susceptibility of coronavirus as it can increase the pH of our respiratory tract, not allowing bacteria or viruses to survive (Sokal, Sokal, Chevalier, Kieronska, & Sokal, 2020).
Take this one step further, and think about meditation while grounding in nature. Meditation is a technique that connects the mind and the body through mindfulness. By practicing meditation, one can become more aware of thoughts and feelings and become more equipped to control them.
By increasing our mindfulness, meditation has been shown to reduce depression and anxiety, improve self-awareness, self-control, and relationships, help with focus and memory, decrease pain and blood pressure, and enhance sleep (Rose, Zell, & Strickhouser, 2020). If we take these positive effects from meditation and implement it while harmonizing our energy with the earth, the results would be profound.
Try getting outside for 15 minutes a day, barefoot or seated in the grass if possible. Try to avoid high traffic areas, like sidewalks and roads, and go on a trail or walking path where there are a lot of plants and trees. If it is cold or not possible for you to get outside, there are grounding mats, bands, and patches that you can purchase. Meditation can be done anywhere at any time.
Next time you are starting to feel overwhelmed, try closing your eyes and sitting still in a quiet space for just 5 minutes and see how you feel. The only way we can transform the world is by transforming ourselves. The question is not why should you, but why wouldn’t you?
Health by Nature