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My Nonnegotiable Daily Nature Practice For Stress & Anxiety Relief

Shannon Kaiser
mbg Contributor By Shannon Kaiser
mbg Contributor
Shannon Kaiser is the best-selling author of 5 books on the psychology of happiness and fulfillment including The Self-Love Experiment, Adventures for Your Soul, and Joy Seeker. She has a B.A. in Journalism and Communications from the University of Oregon.
This Is My Nonnegotiable Daily Practice For Stress & Anxiety Relief

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When was the last time you had a change moment—an "aha" realization that set you down a new path? This April, in honor of Earth Month, mindbodygreen is hoping to inspire these moments through thoughtful storytelling about our planet. Welcome to The Change Moment, where you'll find personal stories, expert-backed tips, and thoughtful primers that will change the way you think about what sustainability really means and how to put it into practice.

One day, sitting in my home trying to meditate, I felt anxious and annoyed. At that point in my life, I was not a regular meditator. I didn't have time to do it, plus I was never able to reach the benefits that so many felt. People I knew who meditated regularly seemed to have this zen glow, which only frustrated me more because I couldn't understand how they achieved it. Meditating for me was like trying to get a 7-year-old to calm down on their birthday after eating cake and cookies and opening presents—impossible.

But during that phase of my life when anxiety was at its height, I was forced into meditation by sheer life circumstances. Sitting silent in a chair, with my eyes closed, seemed to be the only thing I could do that gave me a sense of relief. I felt stuck in all other areas, and most of the things that used to flow and bring me immense joy suddenly came to a standstill and lacked the same fulfillment. Many friendships, upon deeper reflection, felt superficial and inauthentic. To top it all off, my health wasn't as strong as I'd hoped.

I fell into a depression. It was as if everything I knew had been turned upside down and was falling apart. I kept asking, "Why is this happening? What is the lesson?" But if I was only asking why, I couldn't get to the what. The what was that it was all a blessing in disguise, as I was actually being asked to connect more deeply to the world outside my front door.

My first experience with earthing.

"Instead of struggling, resisting, and pushing so hard to move forward, relax; there is a much easier way," is what my inner voice said in meditation that morning.

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journaling on a sunny desk

Within seconds, the sun came through my window and washed over me, as a warm embracing energy filled the room. I heard my inner voice say, "Go outside." I immediately opened my eyes and went to the closest park. I took off my shoes, sat in the grass, closed my eyes, and felt an immediate surge of healing energy wash through me. In that moment of connecting to the earth, I felt more calm, alive, balanced, and clear.

Throughout practically all of history, humans have walked the earth barefoot. Some still do. There is now a growing body of research suggesting that earthing—the practice of walking, sleeping standing directly on the earth; also known as grounding—can help reduce inflammationimprove sleep, boost moodlower blood pressure and cardiovascular risks, and normalize the body's biological rhythm. In short, connecting to the earth helps us connect to our own well-being.

When I started earthing that day, the first noticeable effect was improved sleep. Not only was it much easier to fall asleep, but I didn't toss and turn as much. Nowadays, I find that the practice helps me better manage my anxiety, and I feel so much less stress than I did all those years ago. Whether it's with an earthing routine in the park, a morning walk outdoors, a plant adaptogen regimen, or a moment with my houseplants, I now try to intentionally connect to Earth energy every day and I feel much better for it.

In my new book Return to You: 11 Spiritual Lessons for Unshakable Inner Peace, I share my favorite nature practices for connecting to calm. Here is one from the book that I continue to come back to:

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My go-to balancing meditation for releasing anxiety and connecting to Earth.

Step 1: Go outside—into the backyard or a nearby park—and sit, walk, or stand on grass, sand, dirt, etc. I've found that doing so for at least 30 minutes a day is the most beneficial, but connecting for just three to five minutes can still help you feel better. Step 1 alternative: If you are not in a position to ground yourself outdoors right now, you can still connect with nature. You could sit by a houseplant, open your windows to get fresh air, or even invest in earthing products, such as mats, blankets, or shoes. You can also use grounding essential oils (with cypress, sandalwood, or ginger) or crystals such as smoky quartz or black tourmaline, which are ideal for protection.

Step 2: Breathe in and out; allow yourself to take in all of the beautiful aspects of nature as you embrace its healing capacity. Feel the blades of grass between your feet. Look up to the sky. Let the sunlight fall over you, and smell the fresh air. Listen for the birds. As you use all your senses, you become more present and connect to the experiences of the Earth even more. 

Step 3: Connect to gratitude. As you continue to breathe in and out, use this moment to focus on appreciation. This is a perfect time to be thankful for all that is well in your life. Send love to the earth, to your community, to the world, to all that is well.

You can say a prayer, such as this one, in the moment to further ground and connect to the collective:

I detach from anything that seeks to separate.

Anything that says "us vs. them."

Anything that says "my way or the highway."

Anything that seeks to destroy, condemn, shame, or blame.

Instead, I choose unity.

I choose kindness, compassion.

I choose love.

As you repeat these words, imagine a white blanket of bright light covering the planet and wrapping and healing it with nurturing love. As you repeat the words "I choose unity and love," imagine all of the people on Earth rising into more love and compassion for self and one another.

Repeat:

I choose love. I am love. We are all connected in love. 

The bottom line.

No matter when or how grounding is completed, taking time each day to interact with nature will help combat the blues and bring us back to what truly matters: our connection with self and the magnificent Earth. 

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Shannon Kaiser
Shannon Kaiser
Shannon Kaiser is the best-selling author of 5 books on the psychology of happiness and fulfillment...
Read More
More from the author:
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Shannon Kaiser
Shannon Kaiser
Shannon Kaiser is the best-selling author of 5 books on the psychology...
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