Going Barefoot

When was the last time you walked barefoot outdoors? Do you remember feeling your feet skimming grass, sand, dirt, stones — or even the sensation of soles-on-pavement in the driveway? 

We might not think of going barefoot outside as desirable or even safe, but, in fact, walking shoeless is so beneficial that it can be used as a therapeutic practice. Here in the North Okanagan, now that the snow has melted and the grass is growing green, it is time to ditch the winter boots and step on the Earth itself with our feet uncovered.

Having toes in contact with the ground contributes to our well-being. It helps with the maintenance of our musculoskeletal system and restores our natural walking pattern. The entire body benefits from the stimulation of foot reflex zones. Note how you feel tickles in different parts of your body when you step, for example, on pebbles at the beach – that’s your nervous system being stimulated.

There’s more. Earthing, or grounding, consists of having direct contact with the planet (by going barefoot, laying hands on the ground or a tree or lying down on a patch of grass or sand), and its enthusiasts claim that the practice speeds healing, enhances vitality, lowers blood pressure, reduces inflammation and improves sleep. 

Connecting to the ground drains stagnated energies from our bodies. At the same time, we are stimulated by the negative ions and antioxidants coming straight from the Earth’s electric field. It works pretty much like an electrical circuit – the fields of our bodies and the Earth exchange charges. 

Spring is a great time to start practicing earthing. Be mindful, though: having worn shoes for most of our lives, our feet have become conditioned for comfort. Start slowly and choose your terrain, but don’t get intimidated by dirt or dust . My trick is to wear slip-off shoes so I can take them off without much fuss whenever there’s a chance. 

If you want to learn more, a good place to start your research is https://earthinginstitute.net/, where you’ll find an inspiring documentary you can watch for free.

Grounding is a much-overlooked form of natural therapy. It’s simple, has no side effects and costs nothing. It brings not only physical benefits but also fulfills our inherent need for connection with our natural environment – something many of us lack nowadays, whether in lockdown or not, in our busy urban lives. 

Grounding is medicine for body and soul.

Silmara Emde is an artist whose main medium is photography. She draws inspiration from daily life and the people she connects with. Nature is both her studio space and her greatest teacher. She lives in Vernon with her husband and their five year-old son, and you can follow her on Instagram @silmaraemde

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