For the second weekend in a row my feet had the best massage they've had in a long time. I enjoy getting out to walk on the weekends and during the week when I can, but usually I'm wearing shoes. The last two weekends the shoes came off whenever I was on the trail in the woods, only putting them back on when walking on the road for any length of time. What I noticed immediately were the temperature and texture differences beneath my feet. Where there was dappled sunlight peeking through the trees, the earth was warm, and my feet soaked up the heat. Muddy places and shady spots were cool, as they held the colder temperatures of the night. They hadn't yet absorbed the heat of the day and the contrast was quite stark.
Textures varied in their substance; soft and cushy where leaves from last fall had broken down, coating the path in thick layers, and firm and abrupt when walking over gravelly surfaces. Open dirt was packed hard and smooth, feeling solid beneath me. Twigs gave way and mud squished through my toes as I wound my way along the path. Grass tickled my feet with tenderness. As I watched for bees humming in the ground flowers, it was an open invitation to stay present.
I like to think I hold an awareness of the earth beneath my feet when I'm out hiking, but this was a physical reminder to reconnect and make deeper contact with the world below. It made me mindful of my steps, my breathing, and finding stillness in thought, bringing me into the present moment as I ground more deeply. I felt a deep communication between my feet and the earth, in ways that continued to unfold even hours later.
When the shoes did come back on, I noticed how differently my feet felt than they had before walking barefoot. They were now more relaxed, felt softer and open, like I'd just had an hour's massage. I felt grounded, my roots making a deeper connection with the Earth, while opening me to sky energy as well. I became a conduit for the Mother to the Father.
When I was a kid, walking barefoot was just part of my everyday life in warmer weather. I never thought twice about going barefoot for long hours at a time. Now going without shoes is a novelty and even has its own name; it's called 'earthing'. Who knew that we'd get so far from our roots to the earth that we'd need a name to go barefoot. Beyond whatever we choose to call it, going barefoot doesn't need to be part of the latest trend. It's the most natural and healthy thing we can do for our bodies.
There are many health benefits to walking barefoot in addition to being more grounded. The negative ionic charges that the earth releases help us to detoxify, reduces inflammation, helps with insomnia and brings calm to the body's fight or flight response. Ankles, arches, calves, knees, lower back and the body's core gets stronger as our feet remember to use the muscles we've stuffed into shoes for so many years. All of the reflex points and nerve endings on the bottoms of the feet get stimulated, so the feeling I had of being massaged wasn't just on my feet, but extended into the rest of my body as well.
This is the perfect time of year as we head into warmer weather to experience earthing. So take off those shoes, plant your feet on the earth and feel the benefits of bare-footing.