‘Because the wind wants to feel your hair, and the earth wants to touch your feet.’
– Kahlil GibranWe live in nature, but we don’t live naturally. We live on the earth, but we don’t touch it. Ninety per cent 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 vitamin in food before we eat it. In fact, we protect ourselves from all that is natural. And yet, many of us fall ill from time of time, worry about our general health.
This is where naturopathy comes in. Naturopathy is an alternative healing system. Like the name suggests, naturopathy attempts to re-link us with the five elements of nature, namely fire, water, earth, air and space, and thereby heal us.
Let us talk about an important element of nature: mother earth. There is one simple, quick way to get back in touch with the earth: walk barefoot.
Nature has made our feet sensitive. We have a lot of acupressure points on our feet which love to be massaged every now and then. But we deprive our poor feet the right to feel different surfaces by continuously covering them in thick chappals, or walking on flat tiled floor.
Then there is the obsession with clean, soft feet. The choice is simple. Do you want to be pretty and sick or tough and healthy? Health is the wealth that can give you the smile that no beauty parlor can produce.
Let’s go back to the first step. No baby ever wore shoes while learning to walk. And the first step was such joy. The baby was trying out the strength of his leg muscles, and suddenly discovered balance by becoming aware of the muscles in his feet. Most children hate wearing shoes, they prefer sandals. Shoes and socks, worn the whole day, render our feet numb. The more comfortable our shoes, the lesser aware we are of our feet.
Walking barefoot on mother earth is like hugging your mother. You might remember the experiment with two groups of baby monkeys. The one who were allowed to hug their mothers lived as compared to the ones who got the milk from plastic bottles.
Nature nourishes and cherishes us in more ways than we are aware. 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.
Try this experiment. Twice in a day, walk 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; we want some mud and pebbles. Walk slowly, letting the earth seep into your being. It might be painful at first, but soon the feet will start relishing 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.
But yes, care for the feet that walk bare can include a warm footbath at night, followed by a quick massage with oil. Soaking the feet in warm water for five to ten minutes will, as it is, refresh your entire being. And the massage will soothe the creases and seal in the energy.
Celebrities who walk barefoot
Although he is a little eccentric, M F Hussain is a sprightly old man who radiates energy. Famous for his paintings, the media doesn’t tire of musing over his bare feet.
It is written that Jesus Christ walked bare foot, and made his disciples do the same.
Footwear for the barefoot community
- Modern living is too comfort –based for its own good. We have a zero tolerance level of the slightest pain. Even our exercise is unnatural. We walk on a treadmill, wearing thick cushioned sports shoes and watch TV, or chat on the cell phone. It is more natural, and far more powerful, to walk barefoot slowly, letting the stones on the street acupressure your feet.
- City dwellers, I admit, cannot do without footwear. A good alternative to walking bare foot is to wear shoes that are minimal and natural. Minimal so that the angle of the foot as it lifts and falls on the ground, is not changed. High heels, therefore, are out. Sports shoes are also out because they are too cushioned. Shoes should allow you to feel the texture of the earth; they should be as thinly soled as possible. Unless it is very cold, socks are unnecessary. They stop the sweat from drying and create a stink. In fact, the smell is not of sweat, but of the bacteria that has accumulated. Cloth shoes that are washed every week work well.
- Sandals are the second choice, for it is impossible to get sandals which have soft soles. The advantage of sandals is the freedom they allot to the toes. The feet forget their function of gripping the earth when they become used to thick soled sandals.
- Chappals which have the acupressure dots on them are not as good as they seem, for the foot very soon gets used to them and becomes de-sensitized. A variety in the pressure points is very important. Chappals made from natural materials like jute are better than these, but nothing beats barefoot.
- Children, especially below age six, should be encouraged at every opportunity to play barefoot, and to climb trees. Because this is the age that the foot arches develop. Flat feet are a problem that is faced only by urban, shoes and socks wearing children.
- Those living in places where the streets are dirty can wear footwear to a park or to a cleaner place, then remove their chappals and put them in a bag and walk barefoot in the park or a footpath. Walking on tar road feels slightly cold at first, but the acupressure work it does on the feet warms up the feet within five to ten minutes. Just as we don’t stop going out and breathe in cold air, we should continue walking barefoot in cold weather too.
Nature cure is an inexpensive and straightforward system of alternate healing. All it needs is a slight courage of stepping out of our comfort and fashion zones. ⊕