Personal experience, notes & links on a new (but also ancient) subtle energy technology --that has profound effects on health, recovery from injury, and the evolution of human consciousness.
Have you ever spent any time in your backyard or a park, with your shoes off and your feet in direct contact with grass or the moist earth? Or walked barefoot along a beach in the damp sand? If you experience ten or twenty minutes barefoot in this way, you will sense a clear effect on your mood and stress level. The electrical contact between your body and the earth (termed earthing or grounding) -- forms a connection for the flow of subtle energy information from the earth to your body and consciousness. This action is mediated by a flow of free electrons from the earth into your body. But it is more than simply an electrical phenomena. Because there is an informational flow of earth subtle energy (earth chi), carried on those electrons. So the actions have not only physical effects, but psychological and spiritual (subtle body) as well.
Indigenous cultures have been aware of the importance of direct earth contact. But in modern times, almost all of our activities are electrically insulated from the earth: via our shoes, dwellings and transportation systems.
In 1998, Clint Ober1 one of the pioneers in the cable TV industry, developed a way of bringing the healing effects of being barefoot on the earth, indoors. He connected a sheet of electrically conductive cloth, to a wire leading through the window -- and then connected that wire to a ground rod (a metal rod / stake buried in the earth). This allowed for the flow of electrons from earth to pass to the person who was laying on the conductive sheet. Or similarly to connect to someone sitting using a computer, and whose feet are touching a conductive rubber mat on the floor.
The effects from even these first Earthing clinical studies were extraordinary. People slept better, feeling more energetic when they awoke. Physical healing and reduction of inflammation occured, such that any pain or injuries healed more rapidly. Body (circadian) rhythms were also normalized, those who were fatigued by jet lag recovered quickly.
Fast forward 12 years. The technology is finding increasingly widespread use in both home and clinical settings. The doctor for the US Tour de France teams and Lance Armstrong, Jeff Spencer, uses Earthing extensively to help the team recover from injuries and for optimal rest during the grueling competition. One example tool used by the cyclists is the Recovery Bag. Other physicians, physical therapists, chiropractors, are using the technology in their clinics and recommending it for their clients at home.
A simplification in the home setup for the technology, is that now you can choose to use the 3rd (ground terminal) socket in most AC wall outlets for the ground connection. Instead of having to run a wire out your window to a ground rod. But continue reading below for further recommendations on ground connection options.
The best way to get a quick overview about this discovery and development is to read the short article published May 2010 in the Townsend Letter, a respected newsletter in the alternative medicine field. The article is a summary of the new book released, also in 2010, Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?, by Clint Ober, Stephen Sinatra MD, and Martin Zucker. The book is downloadable in an inexpensive Kindle edition, which I recommend. This is readable on the Kindle device as well as with free e-reader programs for Mac, PC, and mobile devices.
Those interested in the science behind the free electron transfer and how this affects antioxidant and inflammation activity will want to browse the extensive research paper section. Particularly of note is the study on how EEG brainwaves are affected by Earthing. As soon as the Earthing connection was made (blinded to controls and subjects), the EEG normalized dramatically. Some degree of proof I think, for the concept that this technology is acting across physical / emotional / mental domains. Heart rate, respiration, muscle tension, heart rate variability also were similarly positively affected.
I began using Clint's early generation Earth Tether technology in 2003. This consisted of a carbon fiber fitted mattress cover/pad, wire and ground rod. The effects were immediate and palpable. If you are sensitive to chi flow / subtle energy as many people are, you notice a large increase in flow as you lay down on such a bed. Even for those who are less sensitive, the relaxation and de-stress effects are also felt unmistakeably. Your depth of sleep will improve. As well as dream activity. I would even suggest that dream guidance and dream recall will increase. One thing you are doing is grounding the subtle body energy healing that happens in all sleep, more firmly into the density of your physical body.
After the Townsend article came out in 2010, and hearing some videos where David Wolfe (raw food and health guru) was enthusiastic about Earthing, I had to take another look. Sometime in the last five years, Clint improved the conductive cloth material substantially. Instead of relatively high resistance carbon fibers, he now uses very fine metalic silver threads that are woven into the fabric. And instead of a mattress pad, the silver threads now form the bottom sheet that you put on your bed. So this markedly increases the flow and quality of the electrons, over the carbon fiber pad. (Which had one disadvantage that the electrons had to flow thru your non-conductive bottom sheet before reaching your body.) Now with the conductive bottom sheet, your skin is in direct contact with the silver fibers. Much stronger effects with this current version, it is obvious.
I also purchased a conductive rubber foot mat/pad to use in front of my computer. Many of us know the stress and up in your head / out of your body sensations that can happen with long computer use. This pad definitely helps. With my feet on the pad, I also feel more IN my body, warm and centered while using the computer. One explanation for this is that when you are around electronic equipment, or simply in your home anywhere near the 120 volt AC lines that run through all of our walls -- small voltages are induced into your body by the process of 60Hz EMF induction and capacitance. While small, and in the past regarded as "not harmful", we are beginning to realize that ANY induced voltages or EMFs have the potential to disrupt the subtle regulatory systems of the body/mind. What the ground mat (or grounded bed sheet) does, is to instantly drain off any such induced voltage. Hence your body is operating with less "noise" in its bioenergy circuits and signalling mechanisms.
I mentioned previously above that the foot pad or sheet can now be plugged into the wall instead of having to use a ground rod. This is true. And I do use the computer pad this way. However the clinicians in their theraputic use of the technology always use a ground wire going through the window to an outside ground rod. The quality of the ground circuit is better here. For one thing, there is potentially less noise on the ground wire, because the AC wall ground line is running alongside live AC wires as it is routed through the building. So it can pickup small amounts of coupled noise. This is not to say that you cannot use the outlet approach if you are in a multistory building. But if it is convenient, it is preferable to have your own ground rod. Even Clint has said this. One of his blog postings mentions that he uses the wall outlet for the computer pad. Because it is easier. But for his sleep, he continues to use the ground rod approach. The clinicians I am aware of also insist on a ground rod for use with the conductive patches, recovery bag, etc.
If you have a ground rod, it is a good idea to ensure the soil around it stays moist. This produces the best conductivity to earth ground potential. If the soil seems very dry, you might find a better location. Or you can put some water on the ground rod area periodically.
So what is the best way to get started? If it is affordable for you, I would recommend the complete fitted bottom sheet with conductive threads. And a ground rod, which comes with the wire you will need to run outside your window. If the ground rod does not work for your case, then the sheet comes with a wire you can attach to your AC outlet. Be sure to use an AC outlet checker in that case, to confirm the quality of your ground connection. And for the technically minded, some more details about how you can test the outlet with a voltmeter.
The bottom fitted sheets may seem expensive. Simply because silver is expensive. And also the process of developing this weaving technology did not come easily. Clint spent (according to one of the David Wolfe videos) over a million dollars in developing the facilities to make this cloth. But the fabric is so tough, that you can throw the sheet into your normal washer / dryer and clean it like any other sheet.
If the fitted sheet does not work for you, then you can drop back to the what they call the Bedpad. This is a conductive strip of cloth, one yard wide, that you can wrap around the bottom portion of your conventional bottom fitted sheet. (Over the fitted sheet). Thus your lower body will be in contact with the conductive cloth. Or you can also position it in other ways such under your hips or torso. One advantage of the fitted sheet is that the majority of the acupoints on your upper and lower body will be contacting the sheet at some time during the night. Whereas with the pad, a smaller portion of the points contact. Yes, the electrons do flow through the body even with the pad. But there does seem to be some added benefit, the more body area and points are in contact with the ground. As an example of this, the Recovery Bag used by athletes has advantages for faster injury recovery, than the normal one sided conductive sheet.
David Wolfe, as part of his Longevity Now Conference, has arranged for some bulk pricing from Clint's company. That page is here: Mega-Kit Note that this is the Bedpad version however, not the fitted sheet. It is still a good deal, if you want the foot pad, ground rod, conductive bands, etc.
Now with the foot pad, I can get a very similar effect every morning with my qigong. This works with any form of qigong where you are standing or sitting in one place for a period of time.
But it is especially effective for a relatively new qigong called Yigong (or Spontaneous Adjustment Qigong), brought to the US by Sifu Jenny Lamb. This is a very simple style of qigong that you can learn in 15 minutes. But perhaps the most powerful I have encountered in 18 or so years of various practices. Classes are available from either Jenny or one of the Kunlun instructors. (Kunlun level 1 and Yigong level 1 are essentially the same practice.) You can also learn the practice easily from Max Christensen's Kunlun book which is only $10 in the ebook version.
This qigong is simple to learn, but having someone to answer any questions does help to get started. Jenny encouraged us to share the practice with our friends. So it is not a big secret or hidden knowledge. I give a brief description of the practice below, but you will need the book or an instructor demonstration for the complete details.
What the Yigong does, is kind of a pumping action of the Kidney meridian. Which is perhaps the most important acupuncture meridian as far as chi flow and earth chi is concerned. This qigong is done seated on a chair or stool with your back upright, not using the back rest. The balls of your feet are resting on the floor or Earthing pad. (Kidney 1 point is at the base of the ball of the foot.) The balls of the feet positioned under the knees, so that the heels are floating off the floor. The hands are in one of the classic qigong or taiji "holding the ball" postures, oriented vertically in front of the conception meridian (running down the center front of the torso).
As you begin the practice, the lower legs start gently bouncing up and down, of their own accord. Essentially on "autopilot". :-) At first you might begin this action of your own vollition, but soon they continue bouncing on their own. The mind remains centered, calm. It is a good use of the time to do a mindfulness style meditation during the qigong. With the heart open. This is all that is involved as far as the physical practice goes. It looks deceptively simple.
What happens, in my opinion, is that the chi pumped up from the Kidney meridian (and the earth), is further amplified by the conception meridian "tension" caused by the arms and hands. And then that chi spreads to the governor meridian and all the other meridians of the body. It's very strong. But gentle at the same time. You will feel the chi and heat spreading throughout your body. Emotions also release, if any are stuck. The process gently unfolds over time as you practice. There is a clear and noticable increase of chi flow, when this practice is done with the Earthing mat. In fact, as Max shows in his book, the original teachers of this qigong suggested practicing outdoors barefoot, seated on your stool. And your feet either on the bare earth, or on an animal skin rug. Which would also be conductive to electrons due to the moisture from the earth and your feet.
Other qigong practices that are particularly amplified by the Earthing mat are
As mentioned above, Gaetan Chevalier did a blinded controlled study, where the EEG changed / normalized immediately upon connection to the Earthing circuit. This implies that some dimension of human consciousness is being influenced.
Neurofeedback is a form of biofeedback, where a computer monitors the EEG signals from sensors placed on the head. When the brain waves change in the desired direction, tones or visual signals are played by the computer to reinforce the new neuronal behavior.
One of the widely acknowledged characteristics of our modern age, is that we tend to be very active mentally, focused in our intellects. And sometimes neglect to be centered in our bodies, in a peaceful but alert state of mind. Or we make most of our decisions from a modern western intellectual framework, neglecting the wisdom that can come when the intellect and heart work together as a team (heart-intelligence).
My intuition is saying that we can learn much, by experimenting with various biofeedback protocols, while the client is being Earthed. Neurofeedback is one approach. Heart Rate Variability (HRV) training is another, as done in the HeartMath and StressEraser devices.
My initial personal exploration has been with neurofeedback. Using protocols2 that focus on a particular band of brainwaves, the Sensory Motor Rhythm (SMR) at approximately 14 Hz. The SMR is produced when body and mind are in a calm, peaceful and alert state. It is not only a mental state. But a reflection of the grounding and centering into the body. In the brain, its strongest production is in the area called the sensory motor strip, where somatosensory inputs connect to the brain, and where outgoing motor impulses originate.
I have been impressed by the effects that I am seeing. The Earthing seems to enhance training for SMR. And this is logical based on the effects we have seen with Earthing alone. What if we could build a more stable form of this SMR state, such that it could be with us at many points throughout our day? Giving us a more grounded and wider perspective on the challanges we face.
Taking that a step farther, what if we could use the other tools and techniques that enhance intuition and creativity, and combine them in this Earthing context? My hunch is that we could develop our intuition such that it is more sensitive to the needs of those around us, not only humans, but the earth and nature as well. We could potentially shift from "reacting" to negative situations we have created unconsciously by our insensitivity, to proactively pursuing synergistic opportunities. Because we could more easily sense what directions or initiatives might lead to a greater good. And we would be centered enough to not be pulled into our fight / flight / fear reactions, which are ancestral in nature and not serving us at present.
2SMR is the starting frequency, but this is adjusted during the session to find the optimal reward frequency, "the state in which the client reports being alert and attentive, without a feeling of tension or sedation". Corresponding to the Othmer's interhemispheric differential EEG training. Sensor positions are determined using the HIGS / Nogier biofeedback pulse reading system.
In a word, no. :-) The technology used for grounding equipment to the earth has been around since the beginning of the electrical era. (You could say it is open-source.) So those who like to use their hands in building their own grounding / earthing systems, are free to explore as much as they like in this area. The following section contains some links for those who like to build things.
Let me say first that your best direction if you want to simply use and benefit from all the work Clint Ober has spent developing this over the last 12 years -- is to just buy the products from www.earthing.com . This technology has gone through multiple generations, is easy to use, dependable and functional. And reasonably priced based on the material costs. When you buy through Earthing.com you are also supporting further research studies and development of new generations of devices.
Although grounding and earthing are established technologies, what is new is the idea of using it in a theraputic context. It is here that Clint has his patents for manufacturing of the bed grounding system.
Note that in the electronics industry, grounded mats, floors, shoes, wrist straps, etc. have been used for decades. These are called Electrostatic Discharge products, ESD. These are protection systems used to prevent damage to sensitive semiconductors. Most ESD systems are setup with a resistance in the megohms range (millions of ohms.)
While such high resistance can work for some theraputic benefit of Earthing, it is better to go with lower resistance values. Because of the increased electron flow. It is hard to say if there may be an optimal resistance value between the ground rod and the conductive material. It may be something that can be tuned to the needs of the person using the device. For example using muscle testing or other bioenergy readout techniques.
However a ballpark resistance value to use is 20,000 (20K) to 100K ohms. Clint uses 50K resistors in his cables (at the cable snap connector end). And the rubber mat is also about 50K ohm. So mat plus cable is about 100K. The silver threaded sheets are close to zero ohms. But using it with an Earthing.com cable will result in 50K ohms to ground.
Why not just connect the conductive items directly to ground with no resistance? A couple reasons: (1) it is safer to have some resistance in the circuit, that way if the sheet or mat were accidently connected to 120 volts, not enough current could flow to be harmful. This is more a concern if you are using the wall outlet ground system, than with the ground rod. (2) With a sheet connected directly to a ground stake and no resistance, you are plugging into what Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) might refer to as a source of "infinite yin". Even walking barefoot on grass, earth or sand, there is still some resistance in ohms between you and the ground potential. If you are connected with zero ohms, potentially there could be some energetic draining effects, if the connection exists for long periods, say hours. At least the trials I've done with differing resistance values in ohms (and dowsing, muscle testing), shows zero might not be desireable when you are connected for many hours.
So below are some components / steps you can use to fabricate your own ground systems, as examples.
Conductive cloth and fabric also has a long history prior to 1998. Having been used in various EMF sheilding applications, both grounded and isolated from ground. LessEMF has a whole section devoted to fabrics. Two of the best here are the StatiCot and Soft&Safe. Both with very low resistance. However note that these fabrics require special care and are not as washer / dryer friendly as Clint's sheets. Hand washing and line drying is recommended by LessEMF. But my experience has been that front loader delicate cycle washing works. Provided you have hemmed, sewed, or Fabri-Tac-ed the raw cut edges.
All of these LessEMF fabrics are cut from the orginal rolls, which can be as wide as 60 inches. The side edges of the fabric roll will not fray because they are lock woven. The 2 edges where the fabric has been cut from the roll are then what need your attention. Fabric sample swatches of both of these are quite soft, the Staticot being more like a twill or duck cloth type fabric. Staticot is using fine stainless steel, the Soft&Safe silver. Neither cloth has any perceptible metalic feel. I have a large piece of the Soft&Safe, it is indeed very soft. If you need to hold your fabric down to a surface or piece of furniture, you can use elastic clip straps.
With conductive fabric or rubber, there is still some electron transfer that goes on even if you are wearing clothing. This is because your skin moisture will enable the electrons to pass through the clothing. It just will be substantially less than with bare skin.
Stainless steel is a good choice for the ground rod. Threaded means you can use two nuts and a lockwasher to clamp onto a cable. But also consider Clint's ground stake, it's ready to go. Eight feet length is the UL/NEC spec for your power company ground rod at your service entry panel. But you clearly do not need that much. A few feet is fine in moist soil. Or if you want to go another route, most hardware or electrician stores in your area will have grounding supplies, such as these.
Any old cable will do, 18 gauge or 16 gauge zip cord is easily obtained in arbitrary lengths. When you connect the cable to the ground rod, use some grease or petroleum jelly at the junction to slow corrosion of the copper wire. After tightening down, clean off any jelly, then wrap the end with good electrical tape to seal and strain relief it. Be sure no one trips over your stake, maybe an old tennis ball on the top?
If you are gung ho, you could run two stakes, since your zip cord has two conductors. Say separated by a foot or so. Then from inside your house you could check one quality of the ground by measuring the resistance between your two stakes. This could also tell you if the soil is getting too dry.
Alligator clips can be used inside to connect from your ground wire, to fabric. Or to conductive rubber. Roll the fabric up a bit so the clip has some more material to grab. If you are not using one of Clint's 50K ohm cables, you will want to put a 20K or 50K ohm resistor in series with your circuit. Easily done with the alligator clips.
Another way to test your ground rod once installed and connected to the fabric is to measure the AC voltage (with a voltmeter / multimeter) between the fabric and the hot conductor on the wall outlet. It should be about 120 volts. Because the neutral wire on the outlet is tied to another ground rod at your service panel. Do not use a cheap "continuity light" checker for such a test. Conversely if your meter has an ohms scale, you can measure between the cloth and wall outlet ground pin.
If you're multistory or using an AC outlet ground, a multimeter can do a more extensive and accurate check than the three light receptacle checkers. Basically you want to use both, first the 3-light, then your meter. This is because the 3-light checker cannot detect two potentially serious house wiring errors: (1) neutral and ground reversed at the receptacle. (2) a "bootleg" ground, where the neutral and ground pins have been connected together behind the receptacle. (Done by someone to attempt to fool the 3-light checkers, typically if 3-prong outlets have been retrofitted to an old house with only two physical wires in the conduit.)
With your meter, look for low (but not zero) resistance and volts between neutral and ground. (0.0 ohms is a sure sign of a bootleg job.) For the next test, then put some load on the same outlet circuit (e.g. a 100w incandescent lamp plugged into the other socket of the outlet), your meter should show a higher voltage between hot and ground, than between hot and neutral. This is because of the voltage drop due to the load. If it is the reverse situation, then you likely have a receptacle with neutral and ground reversed. Easily fixed by reversing the wires behind the receptacle; wire colors should confirm this. Potentially, any such miswired outlets could compromise the ground status in your home. Because a device plugged into such a bad outlet, is then running live current through the ground system. More details on how and why this multimeter ground-neutral test works, is in this excellent article. By staff member Duane Smith at the premier instrument company, Fluke Corp.
If you are using an AC outlet ground, the quality of the ground can be influenced by the high frequency electrical noise present on the hot and neutral lines. This is called dirty power. And can be caused by poorly designed switching power supplies in devices, wall light dimmers, etc. A Stetzer meter can be used to check for dirty power. If you have a large reading here, it may mean extra noise coupled into the ground circuit. Stetzer filters can help. These filters are just simple 20 microfarad "motor run" capacitors, connected across the line. This concept was invented by Prof. Martin Graham of UC Berkeley, who then worked with Dave Stetzer to produce some commercial products.
LessEMF also sells a wide variety of EMF meters. Check that your bed and working environment is below 3 milligauss (of 60Hz AC field) or less. Typical culprits are wall wart power supplies, clock radios, etc. While the grounded sheet will drain induced / stray voltage, grounding does not cancel magnetic fields. Some meters can also check for microwave emissions from cellphones, wifi, etc. Turn these off while sleeping.