Health: Relationship to Place

Health is a matter of many factors, but often it is a function of the relationships we have and cultivate in the wider world.  There are many of these, and I will touch on other types of relationships in future posts.  But today I want to touch on the relationship each of us has to a place – to the piece of earth on which we walk around every day.

Firstly, many of us do not live in the same place as the place where we were born.  Many of us do not live in the same place where our ancesters were born, lived, died and were buried.   Those of us who do live where our ancestors lived and where we ourselves were born, often do have a multi-layered relationship to the place where they live.  There is a great deal of personal and familial history resonating in that relationship.  Those of us (like myself), who have come to live to a different place, who have chosen a different set of people to be buried with, need time to “get acquainted” with the place itself.  With its seasons and weathers and times.  With its plants and animals, with its soils and waters and airs, and finally with the habits and viewpoints of the people who are already living there.

One aspect of place that has an effect on every living being is the electrical interaction between the surface of the earth and the atmosphere, which is continuously powered by the sun.   The atmosphere is very slightly positively charged, and the earth is very slightly negatively charged, and all the living creatures on earth – people, animals, plants, microbes, etc – derive a certain dynamism that powers our life from the ways that our physiology makes use of and balances those charges, as we simply walk about (or are planted in) the face of the earth.

Master Chen Xiaowang, who taught annual Chen style Tai Chi seminars in Donegal for many years, would often “talk us through” the process of getting relaxed into a standing posture (perhaps the hardest Tai Chi of all!).  I always remember that he would finish by saying “Sky, Earth, Your body”.  He was directly translating the Chinese phrase “Tian, Di, Ren” – which, in its way, expresses the fact that human beings are “made” by the interaction between earth and sky.  (Although the Chinese word “Tian” is sometimes translated as “heaven” instead of “sky”, depending on the context).

In any case, this leads to a form of advice many people have found useful, which is to spend a few minutes daily, doing “grounding” – ie finding a patch of earth if you can – grassy park, sandy beach, or a wee border strip of garden, even just a piece of earth that is concreted or slabbed with stone – and stand or walk on it in bare feet, or in shoes soled with a natural fibre (ie- not made with any of the more common rubber or plastic soles which interfere with electric flow), and allow the body to become, at least in those moments, the electric connector between earth and sky, the balancing point of the major, yet subtle, forces that have shaped us through the aeons of evolution and development upon this planet.

And, in the meantime, stay safe.


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