How strange and wonderful is our home, our earth,
With its swirling, vaporous atmosphere,
Its flowing and frozen climbing creatures,
The croaking things with wings that hang on rocks
And soar through fog, the furry grass, the scaly seas. . .
How utterly rich and wild . . .
Yet some among us have the nerve,
The insolence, the brass, the gall to whine
About the limitations of our earthbound fate
And yearn for some more perfect world beyond the sky.
We are none of us good enough
For the world we have.
- Edward Abbey
From the perspective of the Buddha Way, of course, we are more than ‘good enough’! We just don’t realize that this ‘strange and wonderful’ world is itself our true body – and so we continue to do harm to the planet and ourselves. Zen practice gives us a direct Way to actually wake up, to personally confirm the truth that Hakuin cried out at a moment of great awakening: “I am the sun and the moon and stars and the wide, wide earth!” When we ‘get’ this in the marrow of our bones, we know we’ve always been ‘good enough’ – that we ourselves are the amazing oceans and forests and skies and all the beings who soar and crawl and leap in them. Then we can begin to live a very different sort of life, one truly in harmony with Earth and each other.
Got winter doldrums? Or just feeling foggy and uninspired? Take a short break and head outside! Sit in the sun if you can, take off your shoes, put your bare feet directly on the ground and soak up the healing rays of the sun and electrical charge of the earth. You can always do zazen out there, opening up to the breath awareness or koan in whatever posture works.
Many people are now aware of the great health benefits of sunshine and Vitamin D. What most don’t realize is that they may have a serious lack of another vital nutrient: Vitamin G, some call it, for ground. Studies show that negative-charged electrons always emanating from the earth serve to neutralize harmful free radicals and EMF’s (electromagnetic frequencies). This measurable natural phenomenon seems to reduce inflammation, a condition implicated in countless illnesses including cancer, heart disease and arthritis and other auto-immune diseases.
You can also take it a step further (literally): go for a barefoot walk on grass or in the woods; yes, even in January—here in the South we have many days in the 40’s and 50’s. It’s even better if the ground is a little wet, since moisture increases conductivity of these healing electrical currents. (One suggestion: have a cloth available, for cleaning your soles before going inside.)
This may sound crazy – but how sane is it to spend so much of our lives indoors, breathing stale air and sitting still for hours in front of computer, phone and TV screens, bombarded by EMF’s, with zero direct physical contact with the earth? Just maybe that way of living is contributing to illness and the epidemic of depression of modern humans. Perhaps getting ‘grounded’—the free, simple practice of making direct physical contact with the earth–is worth a try.
By S. Kjolhede