Machu Pichu in the dawn glow.

Machu Pichu in the dawn glow. Picture: Miguel Vasquez via Trover


It was one of my last days in Peru when I met a young woman who was a shaman in training. We spent an afternoon together in Ollantaytambo, the city portal in the Sacred Valley of Peru. It’s the launching site for the journey up to Machu Picchu. While we visited she shared many things, even showing me her medicine bundle of sacred objects that she carried always. It was a glimpse into another world. I had no idea when we met how much she would teach me about grounding and earth.

There was an ancient practice in Peru. A person seeking healing or clearing would find a tree and clean a space of all leaves and brush at its base. They would prepare themselves and undress, then laying on the naked ground, cover themselves with leaves. It was reported to have many benefits.

Years later a holistic western practice was brought to my attention. It was called Earthing or grounding. There are many commercial products that report healing benefits but I can’t speak to their effect. However I myself have found great help by spending time in contact with the earth. I live near the ocean and in a temperate climate so walking a beach is not difficult. When the weather is calm and warm enough, having bare feet in the sand while walking or sitting helps to calm and energize me. It turns out that many use this technique as well.

Here’s a few suggestions for travelers to release stress through grounding or earthing:

  •  If you have a long flight layover find a way to get outside for a few minutes.
  • Breathe fully away from exhaust and smoke, if possible.
  • If that isn’t possible, then indoors find a sunny location and lift your chin, with your eyes closed, to the sun.
  • This is very healing for eyes strained by computer work.
  • If there’s time, find a park or at least a lawn.
  • If the weather is agreeable, take off your shoes and get your toes on the ground.
  • Breathe deeply and relax.
  • This is also beneficial on long road trips – use grassy median strips and rest stops.
  • During winter weather at least find a way to breathe outdoors for a few moments.

I can’t imagine lying in the dirt under a tree to clear my mind and energy but spending a few minutes daily, consciously connecting with nature and the earth is always a positive experience.

What are some ways you do stay grounded when traveling?