The mother-in-law of one of my dear friends is a Thai woman from a small village. Once when she was visiting her family here in our larger town, one of the neighbors passed away. It was a quite sudden and unexpected death. The mother-in-law shared her perspective on the suddenness of the woman's passing.
“Rich people, they never have their feet on the earth. They spend all of their time in their cars, and on the sidewalks, and in their shoes. Their feet aren't on the earth. That is why it is so easy for God to lift them up to heaven.”
To clarify, most anyone reading this right now is her idea of “rich people,” including myself.
Do you feel grounded? Do you feel stable, calm, like you have invisible roots connecting you with the earth beneath you? Like it would take a pretty big push to knock you flat, breaking that connection with the ground?
How much time do you spend in direct contact with the earth? As in bare feet on ground. Sitting on grass. Leaning against a tree. Lying flat on the sand.
In an urban environment, it is obviously more difficult to make contact with the soil. But even in rural environments like where I was raised in beautiful Southern Oregon, it's surprisingly easy to step out of the house and into the car....into the workplace....into the market....into the gym....back into the house.
Mycobacterium vaccae is a bacteria found in soil that is inhaled when playing in the dirt. Research has demonstrated its ability to increase serotonin levels. In a study with rats, the bacteria clearly decreased anxiety and increased learning capacity. A summary of the report from the American Journal of Microbiology can be found here: Can bacteria make you smarter?
One key point of their results was that the noticeable effect in cognition and anxiety levels diminished after a few weeks. The effect was temporary. We cannot take a vacation once or twice a year and call it enough. We have to play in the dirt regularly.
Go for a hike at least once a month. Get yourself a plot in a community garden, or grow something in potted soil. (Healthy, organic soil.) If you take your kids to the park, go nuts and remove your shoes and set your feet on the grass. Get dirty. Put your feet on the earth. Staying grounded in a literal sense will keep you better connected to your life on this earth. And will make it harder to pull you off the earth too soon.