Published on New York Spirit
I always enjoyed being barefoot. Slippers weren’t my friends. I did get a scolding from my mother for carrying dusty feet to the bed-sheet. Twenty-Six years later, I am still the same. Slippers play hide and seek with me and shoes bite me even when they are old. My feet feel happy when they are free.
Even though the present age asserts itself to be the most technological advanced one, it is our ancestors who knew nature’s secret of living in balance and harmony. We built concrete castles and forgot our roots. Our feet are rougher than the rest of our skin because it was meant to touch the ground beneath. When you walk barefoot, the energy nodes present in the feet get activated which are connected to the body. Personally, I love the morning dewy grass. There are several benefits – physical, mental and spiritual—which should encourage you to begin your mornings or end your evenings with this ritual.
Don’t you feel reinvigorated when your feet softly presses the sand and leave a trail behind, when waves play with your feet, when a feather tickles your feet, when the grass softly prickles while you walk? The effect is not only psychological but physical too.
Vagbhata, one of the most influential classical writers of Ayurveda, in his book Ashtang Hridya Samhita, says that there are four important nerves that run from the soles to the head, affecting the eyes and ears. Our feet have well-defined pathways linking to each part of your body. This is the basis of many techniques including acupuncture, shiatsu, acupressure and auriculotherapy.
Let’s see how and why to introduce barefoot healing in our lives.
Grounding: Grounding is when you connect yourself with the earth’s energy. Your physical body becomes the conductor of the earth’s energy and the unwanted energy (anger, frustration, panic, stress, exposure to radiation, pesticides etc.) is expelled. It balances the root chakra.
Walking barefoot on the grass is the perfect way to allow connection between you and the earth. Begin your yoga or exercise regime by first walking barefoot in the dewy grass. The feel of grass on your feet is nothing less than a therapy. You can sit in the meditation pose.
Lie in Lap: Lie down on the grass/soil/sand with your forehead touching the ground. The palms should also touch the ground. After few minutes, turn the position. Lie on the back, hands firm on the earth, look at the sky. You can do it on a cotton sheet spread on the grass in case you feel uncomfortable doing it directly. Avoid thick mats. We cannot sleep on floors given our lifestyle and inability to feel ‘comfortable’; this exercise will allow your body to get in mother earth’s lap.
Caution: You should walk or sit on soil, grass, sand or gravel in the early morning or dawn. When these surfaces are hot, it is not advised to walk on it. Wooden, asphalt and other such surfaces won’t help you as they are not the good conductor of energy. That’s why footwears which are generally made up of rubber, leather and other such materials inhibit the connection between you and earth.
Indulge in foot massage after the above-mentioned rituals. The practice of Pada-abhyanga (foot oil massage) is considered very beneficial for the body and helps with circulatory issues in the lower limbs such as sciatic nerve pain, cramps and varicose veins as well as with dryness, numbness and fatigue.
Winters or Colder Areas
If you live in colder regions or in winters, you can skip walking outside and be barefoot indoors. Even though many people claim that walking barefoot in snowy climate too is a thing, I personally won’t recommend as it can cause ailments especially to people with Kapha constitution. Make sure you take out some time to walk inside the house. You can do it post your dinner for 15-30 minutes. It will also help digest the meal. You can try walking on heels or tiptoe walking to strengthen muscles in shin and calves respectively. Indulge in foot oil massage once a week. Any oil would do. Coconut, mustard and sesame oil are considered good. Applying warm oil would give you better results in cold climate.
Physical Benefits: It is an established fact that the surface of the Earth generates a limitless and continuously renewed supply of free or mobile electrons. When you get in contact with the Earth’s surface, it can contribute towards the effective functioning of all body systems. In the Journal of Environmental and Public Health, researchers concluded: Emerging evidence shows that contact with the Earth—whether being outside barefoot or indoors connected to grounded conductive systems—may be a simple, natural, and yet profoundly effective environmental strategy against chronic stress, ANS dysfunction, inflammation, pain, poor sleep, disturbed HRV, hyper-coagulable blood, and many common health disorders, including cardiovascular disease.
Spiritual Benefits: Walking on the ground makes you calm. Gradually, you learn mindfulness. It helps us to reflect on our inner conflicts and resolve them by the calmness which envelopes the body. Being in touch with nature always helps us, not only physically but mentally too. The root chakra gets balanced with continuous grounding activity.
Even if you don’t have time to go on a walk every day, give your feet a free time. Remove shoes, let them breathe. Walk inside your house barefoot. Let there be an energy flow from the earth to your body.
May each pore of your feet receive Mother Earth’s energy!