Sitting down with a friend yesterday to plan our Winter Wellness Weekend has me all excited to unfurl some techniques to deepen our connection with nature. As I rushed out the door, late to meet her, I realized only when I had got to the café that I hadn’t worn shoes.
Yes, I am that barefoot gypsy you see running around, my soles un-insulated, however I choose to be this way.
WHY? By consciously spending time connected to nature, we reclaim the intimate awareness through engaging our senses, that our physical body is intricately connected to Nature, spun into the web of life. The feedback from our senses; Touch, Sight, Smell, Hearing, Taste and Feeling, allows us to recover the moment to moment awareness that plants us in the present.
Living more mindfully, with present awareness allows us to let go of what has happened and welcome what is to come without judgement, fear or angst. Just to approach it as it is, when it comes.
A psychologist I work with explained very simply to me once that Depression is a symptom of living in the past. Anxiety is a symptom of worrying about the future. Mindfulness is living in the present moment.
Through experiences of walking barefoot through Nature, we activate a primal consciousness, an ancient wisdom that is embedded within our human body. This primal awareness through nature immersion experiences reminds us of our deep connection to the world, stimulating a shift to deeper connection to the environment and resultant loss of attachment to solely human concerns and materialistic desires.
Through our hectic, fast paced lives and constant connectivity and re-activeness, we have lost our experience and feelings of awe, humbleness, mystery and elation. Making time to stop, engage our sensors in a deeper connection with Nature will create a balance we are sorely lacking in today’s society.
We have many touch receptors all over our body and these slowly disappear as we age. If we don’t stimulate these sensors, the diminish must faster. These receptors peak sensitivity at about 16 years of age and slowly decrease. One factor of elderly falls is due to the inability to feel as much surface on their skin. Humans stay upright in part due to the sensations on the bottom of our feet.
By walking barefoot, you are engaging this neural message pathway, activating the touch sensation part of your brain. Much like writing with you dominant hand, the more you do it, the more engrained this becomes.
Try this technique below. Aim for 3-4 times a week for at least 20 mins.
Barefoot walking in Nature
Find a place outdoors where you will be comfortable walking barefoot. This could be the grass or a sandy beach. It is best to choose softer surfaces if you are new this.
Remove your shoes, walking slowly; be aware of how you place each foot. Do you heel toe? Or do you place the entire foot flat on the ground?
Tune into the sensations. Is the grass damp or dry? If you’re walking along the beach, are there shells that you can feel under foot? Is the sand soft or hard? Walk through the water, what does this feel like?
Spend 20 mins walking around, feeling the different sensations. Paying attention the different parts of your feet where you feel more sensation. The balls of our feet are often more hardened as they always have connection where as your arch’s will feel more sensitive.
Breathing deeply, by consciously breathing deeper you will deliver more oxygen to your cells and brain, becoming more alert and activated.
If you see something that catches your eye, a pretty leaf or obscure looking objects. Stop and pick it up. It’s about being present and noticing the small things that bring you joy.
It is quite common to experience a sensory overload when walking barefoot. I rarely wear shoes and on days can be very receptive to the sensations through my feet, often raising feelings that i had buried deep within. Moment like this, I feel connected and loved in Nature; I can let it go, shed a tear and move on with my day.
It’s simple but cathartic. Why over-complicate it?!
Challenge yourself to try different surfaces. Try walking in dirt, muddy puddles, on dry leaves, wood or stone paving. Each surface has its own unique feeling and energy and the sensations you experience are as diverse as Nature itself.
Our touch sense shifts us into Primal awareness much deeper and instantly changes your perception of the world. It allows you relax, let down your guard and provides an earth for your normal insulted feet. A freedom if you will to connect with mother earth, escaping from the binds of shoes.
I encourage you to get your kids involved in this activity too, if they aren’t already, they will love get dirty and playing with you!
Experiences that evoke a sense of wonder and awe increase your ability to push past perceived limitations, renew confidence and allow you to live your daily life in a self-directed, authentic way. All of which will naturally increase your health and happiness.
Watch this space over the coming weeks as I provide techniques to enhance our connection with our environment, deepen our primal awareness and enhancing our well-being.