“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh —
Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life
I love walking barefoot, it is a way of connecting to the earth. I believe this is a step toward living mindfully, connecting to that which supports you. Many people I know are afraid to walk barefoot outside as well as inside. This is so foreign to me because I have walked barefoot my entire life except in situations where shoes are required of course. Kicking off my shoes at the door allows me to keep the floors of my home and the knees of little ones crawling on my floors free from being soiled. It makes me wonder if by releasing this one fear it would open the doors to releasing other fears.
As a teen mom, I was pretty observant. After visiting some friends or family members homes with my little son I would become upset that his little knees and the tops of his feet were filthy. Sometimes the filth was so embedded that his new clothes could not be cleaned. This prompted me to set a sign in front of the door to my home “Please Take Off Your Shoes.” Some people complained but it was my home and I didn’t care. At the time I didn’t know that this is the norm for some cultures. My little son was more important and we didn’t have money to replace his soiled clothing. Little ones in my home could enjoy crawling and toddling around without worry of what they would pick up or soiled clothing. This is still a practice that I continue even though my own children have been out of the home for over ten years. When you visit my daughters, know you will be asked to shed your shoes. We do provide slipper socks.
That being said, most of the time when outside we don’t wear shoes either. My children learned to enjoy the feel of mud squishing between their toes, soft grass underfoot, coolness of a stream of water traveling along the walkway after a rain storm and the enjoyment of jumping in puddles. Our feet want to touch the earth below us, to sense the temperatures, textures, and connect with that which supports us.
When inside the feel of the cool hardwood floors or the softness of carpet under foot can keep us present in the moment. My little grandson, in the picture above, is shoeless as well. He is learning to enjoy the same freedoms that his mother enjoyed. When teaching mindfulness to my clients, one thing they do is take off their shoes and walk purposefully so they can learn to live in the moment connecting to the world around them and get in touch with their senses.
I am not sure if this is what Thích Nhất Hạnh was speaking of but this is how I interpret this quote. When walking, whether barefoot or not, be mindful of the movement of your body, the way your arms swing out, the stretch in your stride as you walk, and take in the beauty around you. Open your senses. For a few moments be present, live in the moment and connect with the Earth.
Love and Light,