Have you ever had so many ideas running through your mind that you don’t know where to start?
I have started and restarted this post so many times, because it immediately generates a cascade of similar passions and new inspirations. But, when my mind is running wild, the best course of action is to ground myself.
Grounding is a practice that I am still working on implementing into my daily life, but it is within this concept that I find comfort, healing and strength.
Healthline.com provides a clear, textbook definition of grounding:
Grounding, also called earthing, is a therapeutic technique that involves doing activities that “ground” or electrically reconnect you to the earth. This practice relies on earthing science and grounding physics to explain how electrical charges from the earth can have positive effects on your body
This definition expresses it well, but it doesn’t quite exude the magic of grounding. I find grounding to be a valuable spiritual practice, that blends well into any religious or non-religious background. For myself, as a Catholic, grounding connects me with nature, to my roots, which heals my soul from the creation that was breathed on by God. Grounding also has many benefits to mental health and stress.
While grounding can be as simple as standing barefoot in the grass, my favorite way to ground myself is through hiking. While hiking I feel that I can stay in the woods or forest forever, time passes in a different way, and all that you can focus on is the present.
My introduction to hiking was presented in a surprising and unexpected way – I did not find hiking, but hiking was brought to me. My entire life I grew up being a “non-camper.” I never felt like a “outdoorsy” enough person, and while my family did spend time outdoors, it was with industrialized activities. There are different ways of being outdoors, all are beautiful and fun, but I never saw myself as camping overnight or carrying all my supplies on my back. Mosquitoes alone seemed to always have it out for me.
Sometimes though, you don’t learn about a part of yourself until you actually try it.
So what brought hiking into my life? Well, it is who: Cheryl Strayed
If you know this remarkable woman, your immediate thought may be that this would be the last person to convince anyone to hike. In her book, Wild, I was captivated by so many elements of her story, and I would agree that her hiking experience would be enough to scare anyone away with all of the horrors of what could go wrong. But her experience impacted me in another way – as her hiking of the Pacific Crest Trail was a form of grieving through her trauma, I was drawn to the healing that hiking might provide, the grounding that took place by merely taking one step at a time, the meditation of moving forward and setting aside the “real world” for even a moment. So I saw her errors as a great guide of what not to do, which is just as valuable a way to learn, and I was instantly compelled to unlock a new segment of my being.
My hiking journey has been slow, but thankfully I have a close friend who regularly hikes and backpacks, so she is a wonderful companion and mentor.
I will continue hiking and grounding myself for my faith, for my spirit, and for my mental health – rooting myself in the dust of the earth from which I was formed and where my ancestors lay – and rising up like a tree, made whole by the earth that sustains me.