The 6 Elements of Self-Care and Love 2.Barefoot Walking
I remember as a child being barefoot a lot, pushing my toes into the grass, rubbing the soles of my feet on the ground, stubbing my big toe on numerous occasions, as I ran free and excited in playing fields near my house all throughout each summer. I don’t doubt it was so for many of us as children.
And then we stop being children and find our feet are rarely let loose, unless we are on holiday at the beach or perhaps sunbathing in our garden or park.
How often do we pay attention to our feet? Why would it even be important?
Well, for me, being barefoot is grounding. Feeling the earth under the soles of my feet or dragging my heals through the sand making patterns, dipping my feet into a stream or paddling in the sea makes me feel alive, connected and anchored to beautiful Mother Earth.
Our feet hold us, they take the weight of our body through our hips and legs. We often, in our places of work, stand on our feet for hours on end. If we are sitting at a desk all day , or are a wheelchair user, our feet are largely forgotten as the parts of our body that can anchor us to the energy of Earth.
When we begin to walk barefoot again as an adult, each step we take is done with greater consciousness. We look, feel and sense as to where we need to place each footstep. Cautious sometimes as to what we may tread on inadvertently, either because we are worried about harming any little creatures going about their business in the grass, or because we are scared of stepping on a thistle or something ‘unpleasant’.
A few years ago, there was a mother and her young child who lived here at Spirals for a short while. Her child was often naked and always running free in the meadows and trees. I marvelled at his ability to move with such freedom and speed, avoiding stepping on anything as described above. His bare, soft little feet seemed to sense precisely where they needed to be placed as he made his way through the day completely attuned to the nature around him.
I go bare foot now as often as I can, mostly in the warm seasons, sometimes during the rainy seasons, putting shoes on only when leaving the land. When I lived in the city I had much less opportunity to be barefoot but did too still manage to release my feet when-ever possible; I’m mentioning this just to point out I know we don’t all live rurally and that we can still connect in the ways I describe when we live in urban or suburban environments.
And, how can we give some love to our feet, other than taking off our shoes and socks and literally walking barefoot?
Barefoot Walking is not only about walking barefoot!
Have you ever had a reflexology treatment? Oh my, if not, do it! I have a number of dear friends who are reflexologists (sadly unable to work currently) and as such I have enjoyed some exquisite treatments over many years. I totally drift off into another dimension when my feet are being cared for in this way. And of course, reflexology is treating our whole body – how brilliant is that?
We can give our feet love and attention in all sorts of ways. How about filling a bowl with really warm water, adding some Epsom salts and a little essential oil, then immersing your feet into an invitation to deep relaxation. You could create a sacred space to do this, light a candle, play some soft music, make sure you won’t be disturbed. Say a little prayer of gratitude as you place your feet in the prepared water. Choose a special bowl and keep it solely (ha-ha) for the purpose of giving your feet some love.
And what about self-massage? While we are unable to receive massage or reflexology from practitioners, have a go at massaging your feet yourself. For some of us we prefer this anyway, or having a treatment is beyond our means. This does not need to prevent us from receiving loving, soothing touch. Choose an essential oil, or a cream of your liking and curl your legs up on a comfy chair, your bed or floor. You may like to put a towel under your feet to avoid getting oil or cream on the furniture. And then, just have a go. Pay attention to each area of your foot, the sole, the arch of your foot, your toes, between your toes, the top of your feet. Use your thumbs for extra pressure, the palm of your hand for soft strokes, the tips of your fingers for massaging into gristly bits. If you don’t want to do this yourself, ask your partner if you have one, take turns in giving and receiving.
For times when you are unable to go outside, a large smooth stone or boulder is wonderful to either rest your feet on or rub the soles of your feet over its surface. You could place your stone beneath your feet when sat at the computer to help keep yourself grounded, or by your bed ready for you to ground each morning before you start your day.
One more practice I’d like to share is shaking. Stand with your feet, preferably barefoot and preferable outside, hip width apart. Have soft knees, gently and slightly bent to prevent tension. Give your hips a wiggle and rotate them in circles a couple of times, do the same with your shoulders and very gently with your head.
Then, taking a deep breath through your nose and exhaling out through an open mouth feel your feet firmly placed on the ground. Take a moment or two to connect to the earth beneath your feet. When you are ready, begin to shake from your ankles and continue slowly upwards. As you begin to feel your energy build, you can make your shake stronger and more vigorous. Shake until your whole body is in motion, don’t forget your hands and fingers, your face, your hair, your breasts and bottom – let it all go! You are freeing your flow of energy, through your chakra pathway, to open and receive the energy from Mother Earth. It is both invigorating and nourishing.
Here today at Spirals, the weather is warm and humid, the grass in the meadows is still wet from the rain last night. In a short while I will go down through the woodland and take a stroll, barefoot, and attune to the loving energy of Mother Earth.