The “Earthing” Necessity


How “a long line of barefoot girls” stays in touch with the earth.

(From a presentation by Sarah Livia Brightwood at a 2013 SpaFinder Wellness event in New York City)

I am honored to present one of the ten trends of the year: Earthing. But I hope to convince you all that this is not only a trend, but a necessity and one of the most fundamental aspects of human health.

I am now President of Rancho La Puerta ... and I am part of a long line of barefoot girls. My mother, Deborah Szekely, founder of the Golden Door and Rancho La Puerta, was raised in Tahiti, walking on warm sands. I was raised at Rancho La Puerta, when we were rustic and off the grid and one of my greatest pleasures was climbing trees and running barefoot through the vineyards. My daughter grew up sliding down piles of topsoil stockpiled for the countless gardens that I have designed. When she was two years old I called her Emily Barefoot Girl because we couldn’t keep her shoes on, much less keep her clothing on. She grew up catching rain and snow in her mouth and eating flowers on the organic farm. This sensory hunger, curiosity and delight is our birthright. It comes from a necessity to survive in the wild through the millennium of human evolution. To be in relationship with the earth is a necessity, especially in a great city like New York.

In 1952, the German Physicist, Professor Winfried Otto Schumann, discovered electromagnetic waves in the earth’s atmosphere. These electromagnetic pulses are now known as the Schumann Resonances. His work continued to be refined by his student Herbert Konig who discovered that the main frequency produced by the Schumann Resonances is almost exactly attuned to the frequency of alpha rhythm brainwaves: 7.83 hertz. Some studies have proven that human health is dependant on these resonances. Space shuttles now simulate Schumann Resonances because early astronauts suffered headaches, emotional stress and illness. The Schumann Resonances appear to act as a tuning fork in the mammalian brain.

The research on Earthing shows us that the skin of our bodies needs to touch the skin of the earth. Modern lifestyles have disconnected us from the earth’s energy, but this energy upholds the electrical stability of our bodies. We are bioelectrical beings living on an electrical planet. All electrical systems are stabilized by grounding to the earth. “Grounding” the human body has a significant modulating effect on chronic illness, for it reduces inflammation, thins blood and improves blood pressure and flow, relieves headaches, speeds healing, reduces jet lag by reestablishing circadian rhythms, and protects the body against electromagnetic pollution.

I have never needed research to tell me that when I take my stress and troubles into the garden, within minutes of putting my hands in the soil I return home to myself. The garden is the place where I lose my mind and come to my senses. Our guests know that, too.

At Rancho La Puerta many of our activities are based on healing in nature.  Our facilities are spread out over 80 acres, within a 2,000-acre nature preserve. Walking is essential to the experience, as are our fine gardens which blend a fragrant and serene Mediterranean landscape with the native chaparral. Our guests rise early in the morning, choosing one of four hikes offered daily, and eat the majority of their meals outdoors. We were one of the first spas anywhere to provide farm to table experiences .Our cooking classes at La Cocina Que Canta always begin with harvesting directly from the earth. In the Women’s Health Center courtyard is a reflexology spiral which combines Earthing with the stimulation of all the meridians based in the feet.  We encourage people to walk our Labyrinth barefooted.

Truthfully, I believe that of the forty different  classes we offer everyday, from yoga to pilates to weight training to african dance,  the most healing of all is simply the experience of walking mindfully to class in a beautiful natural environment in a loving, supportive community of staff and fellow guests.

Although we have evolved a great deal from our rustic origins in 1940, the core principals of the Ranch have remained intact. As my father wrote over fifty years ago,

Modern life is complex and complicated, and the complexity of the technical civilization is negatively affecting the nervous system of mankind. Stress is omnipresent. Stress and its nervous tension and insecurity are the greatest problems facing our civilization.

The human individual is as one atom in cosmic life. We are eternal in the ability to absorb all sources of energy, harmony and knowledge.  We are made of the same stuff—electrons, atoms and molecules—as constitute the celestial bodies. Our skeletons are made of the same minerals that constitute the geological strata of the earth, and our blood circulates as does water in nature. Thus we are in unity with the natural world, and with the universe.”

My father loved to tell the Greek myth of Antaeus, who was the son of Poseidon and Gaia. He was undefeated in battle as long as he remained in contact with the ground, his Mother Earth.

As we draw close to the New Year, may you find many places to walk barefoot on the earth to strengthen your connection with her life-giving forces ... to lose your mind and come to your senses.

PHOTO: Doug Ellis


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