The Barefoot Challenge

by Manjushree Abhinav

Because the wind wants to feel your hair, and the earth wants to touch your feet.” — Kahlil Gibran

We live in nature, but we don’t live naturally. We live on the earth, but we don’t touch it. Ninety percent of the time, we hide from the sun. We use hot water to bathe, which is a fast, functional affair. Most of the time we condition the air we breathe. In winter, we keep warm, and in summers we protect ourselves from the heat. We burn most of the vitamins in food before we eat. We protect ourselves from all that is natural. And many of us fall ill from time to time and worry about our general health. What can we do to heal ourselves? I have found one simple and quick way to get back in touch with the earth: walk barefoot.

Soil has healing properties; it draws out toxins from the body. Minerals that get lost on their way to us otherwise seep in directly from the touch of mother earth. Walking barefoot on mother earth is like hugging your mother.

Nature has made our feet sensitive. We have many acupressure points on our feet, which love to be massaged. But we deprive our feet of different surfaces by continuously covering them with thick chappals, or walking on flat tiled floor.

Try this experiment. Twice a day, walk barefoot on bare earth for fifteen minutes. If you can’t find bare earth, walk on a footpath. Make sure it is not a very smooth footpath though; mud and pebbles are important. Walk slowly, letting the earth seep into your being. It might be painful at first, but soon your feet will relish the massage. Most of your bodily aches and pains will diminish within a week. If you continue for more than a month, you will start feeling a new strength in your body, feet up. The feet will actually radiate a palpable sense of well–being.

Walking barefoot is especially good for knee pain, stiffness in the joints, and back pain. A study showed that the incidence of arthritis and varicose veins are much lower in villages, probably because they walk barefoot. Digestion also improves drastically by the acupressure effect of barefoot walking. Add to this a warm footbath at night, followed by a quick massage with oil. Soaking the feet in warm water for five to ten minutes will refresh your entire being, and the massage will soothe the creases and seal in the energy.

Nature cure is an inexpensive and straightforward system of alternative healing. All it requires is the small courage to take the small step out of our comfort and fashion zones.

Manjushree Abhinav, Bangalore, is a writer and filmmaker. Yes, she does walk the talk.