By Fallon Fischer
We live in a world where we are glued to our phones and surrounded by noise of the busy world around us. It is important that we take time for ourselves to reconnect with our mind, body, spirit and most importantly, the Earth. You can do so by immersing yourself in nature through an activity called grounding.
According to researchers from Earthing Canada, Earthing is a practice of grounding the body by connecting the human body to the electrical frequencies in the Earth.
Gina Firth, associate dean of wellness and student affairs, leads a grounding activity for students during the Interfaith Retreat. The retreat is free for students and is hosted every spring semester by Live Well UT and Better Together.
“Earthing, which grounds us, is done by connecting your skin directly to the Earth,” said Firth. “You can do this by walking barefoot, swimming, gardening, et cetera.”
When I first did the grounding activity at the Interfaith Retreat, I thought it was kind of silly. But the more time I spent walking barefoot in the dirt, the more connected I felt to the Earth. Now if I had the opportunity to go barefoot all day I would. Unfortunately, living in a city where there are a lot of pavements, it is not the most ideal surface to walk on.
Because earthing is similar to meditation in terms of bringing positive energy into the body, meditating outside can also be a way to ground yourself.
“I have meditated outside and it was an incredibly relaxing experience,” said Kathryn Rose Schaffer, UT alumna. “A few weeks ago I meditated at night with the stars in view and it really taught me the importance of being present and understanding that whatever I’m facing will eventually be sorted out.”
I am the president of Balance UT, and I host guided meditations for students. In the past, we have done meditation activities outside so students can receive the benefits of being outside in nature. It was soothing to hear the sounds of the wind underneath the moonlit sky while being led in a guided meditation.
Being outside while meditating has enhanced benefits, but you don’t need to be outside to receive the positive benefits of meditation — an inside practice can be just as transforming.
“Meditation has made such a positive impact on my life and my outlook on things,” said Deanaletta Seif, freshman psychology major. “It gives me a sense of peace in my busy schedule.”
One tip that is essential for having a successful meditation or grounding session is limiting your use of electronics.
“By being surrounded by so many electronics and screens everyday without a break can be detrimental to your mental health,” said Morgan Mendelson, senior business management major. “By taking time away from being inside and in front of screens allows your mind the freedom to relax, balance and completely recenter.”
Firth also has a similar viewpoint as Mendelson and stated that today, people have disconnected themselves from nature through their lifestyle choices.
“We wear shoes that are made from synthetic products that block our connection to the Earth,” said Firth. “Outside activity for children has reduced significantly over the years, especially with the emergence of computers and smartphones.”
As a college freshman, I decided to propose the idea of Meditation Monday at UT, after I saw how much meditation helped me in high school. Every Monday I would go to the library where my high school English teacher, Kileen Gilroy, would lead students in a guided meditation.
This experience helped me deal with my stress and allowed me to reconnect with myself. So when I came to college, I thought students would benefit by having a place to come to de-stress and reconnect with themselves.
Diving into the practice of Meditation Mondays at UT, I often ask students to turn their phone off so there are no distractions. This not only creates a calming environment with no interruptions, but it also allows students to be fully present in the moment.
At that time, the lights are dimmed, I play zen meditation music and begin leading students in a guided meditation based off my own experience. I also invite members of the Tampa community to come and lead guided meditations for students. So far, this semester, we have had ten meditation sessions and five guests. I plan on having one more guest come this semester before it ends.
I am most proud of Meditation Monday at UT. I have truly seen it make a difference in students and in myself. Meditation has helped me be more in touch and accepting of my emotions. It can be difficult sometimes to try to be present, but by keeping up with the practice even if it is for five minutes a day, it can help train the mind.
I have learned from meditation that not every thought or action deserves reaction. This has helped me tremendously when dealing with stressful situations or intrusive thoughts in my day to day life.
Also, Mondays can be very stressful, having to get back into the work routine after the weekend, and on some days I am so exhausted come nighttime. However, Meditation Monday is definitely something I look forward to and inspires me every week.
If you would like to learn more you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Meditation Monday is held every Monday at 8 p.m. in Sykes Chapel room 115. No prior meditation experience is required.
Meditation and Grounding Tips courtesy of Balance UT:
- Find a quiet space
- Get into a comfortable posture, either sitting up or laying down on your back
- Close your eyes and allow your thoughts to drift
- Scan your body bringing attention to how you are breathing
- Bring awareness to your emotions acknowledging them but not judging
- Slow your breath down taking deep inhalations and slow exhalations.
- Draw your attention to the environment you are in activating the senses. What can you hear? What can you smell? What do you taste? What do you feel on your body?
- Do this activity for as long as you like.
Fallon Fischer can be reached at email@example.com