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Barefooting is one of the latest trends in natural living.
Primal contact with the earth is new in concept but ancient in practice
Photo: Barefooting with Ena, my East German Shepherd.
Barefooting was not a concept many years ago. it often was simply part of being outdoors.
Now more than ever, with the ever increasing stress and pace of life, we need to connect with what really nourishes us.
Assuming you have a safe place to enjoy it, this very new (and very old) practice is therapeutic and calming. Since the beginning of time, being in direct contact with the electromagnetism of the earth has supported human health.
It would be thirty years before I heard of Earthing (harmonizing and nourishing our energy by physically connecting directly to the earth's energy).
However, the memorable experience below convinced me that barefooting can indeed be therapeutic.
Back then, I was an inveterate swimmer. I loved swimming so much I swam in chlorinated indoor pools during the cooler months. It was a love-hate relationship because as much as I loved swimming, I hated chlorine. I also didn't like having to watch out for other swimmers while swimming laps in a pool because it rudely interrupted the continuity of a pleasurable rhythm.
In summer, I went out of my way to avoid chlorine and crowds, looking for clean lakes where I could swim undisturbed. With a big dog to accompany me, and a brazen attitude toward going into the woods alone, summer was a swimmers' paradise for me - usually.
I was always looking for the best swimming spots. When a friend told me about an old reservoir where the water was clean and clear, of course I had to go. I wore shorts over my swimsuit, and sneakers to protect my feet for the mile hike up a steep, rough gravel road liberally strewn with larger chunks of rock. Barefooting definitely did not seem a good idea here. Friendly, like-minded people would occasionally accompany me on the walk up to the reservoir.
Once at the top, I would hide my car key with my sneakers and shorts, and go for a swim. My dog, a very mild-mannered rescue Doberman, was enough of a deterrent to keep my stuff safe.
Usually there were other people here and there in the woods, enjoying a little picnic and a swim. Occasionally, we would have an unwanted visitor - a forest ranger who watched over the area. He would drive up the gravel road - going slowly to be as quiet as possible - but always someone would hear and give the alarm. Everyone would jump out of the water fast and act nonchalant.
One particular day, I went up there without my dog. It was early morning and very quiet. No other visitors could be seen. After my swim, I went to put my shoes on and found them gone, along with my shorts and car keys! I was in shock. Who could have taken them - and why?
The only option was to walk barefoot down the entire trail (ouch!), get to my car, and find a place to use a phone to call my boyfriend to bring a spare key.
The Delight of Barefooting
This unanticipated introduction to the pleasures of barefooting had a rough start.
I prepared myself for the ordeal by reminding myself about the healing benefits of reflexology (deep manipulation of the reflex points on the sole of the foot).
I was about to get the reflexology treatment of a lifetime!
What sustained my determination to bear the discomfort was my state of agitation. Also, because I was under stress, my body was in survival mode, making pain tolerance higher than usual - the body's natural preparation for a physical challenge.
What happened next was totally unexpected...
The further I walked over the jagged stones and gravel, the better I felt!
A sense of elation gradually overtook me. It was not just the fact of meeting a challenge. Something in my physiology had shifted. Despite the circumstances, I was feeling elated!
After finding that it was the forest ranger who had taken my things, and receiving his lecture about 'no swimming allowed,' I was still feeling great. Despite now having to find another place to swim, my mood was buoyant.
As I drove away, I noticed that my whole body was alive with a pleasurable tingling and vibrance!
I was quite aware that my unexpected state of joy was entirely due to the stimulating experience of barefooting!
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