I grew up running around and playing everywhere barefoot.
Even though I did wear shoes sometimes as well, I formed hard callouses on the bottom of my feet. (it was nothing compared with my Dad who never wore shoes while growing up in New Zealand).
I could run over gravel at speed, no problem. The odd bindy would get me occasionally. The hot, Summer footpath was sometimes a challenge.
I learned to walk, mindfully.
As an adult, I’ve made a point of continuing the habit. I have walked barefoot, and mindfully, extensively in cities such as Sydney, Sao Paulo, Hong Kong, London and Istanbul.
Yes, my feet would get dirty. And, yes, people would stare.
But there is something primal about your feet touching the ground as those around you walk with cushions on their feet.
Having said that, if anyone who wasn’t used to walking barefoot tried it, they might experience some discomfort or even pain. Shoes force your feet into unnatural positions and train you to walk inefficiently.
If you persisted, however, you would soon notice that you actually watch where you are stepping.
You would become more attentive.
So, as well as possibly being a physical challenge for those not used to it, barefoot walking quickly becomes a mental exercise.
Is that reason enough to try?
Yes, and there are a couple of other added benefits to consider before you shut the idea down completely:
- Your skin directly touching the ground is good for you. Earthing, or grounding, as it’s sometimes referred, supposedly transfers the Earth’s electrons into the body. If that’s too wishy-washy for you, just try walking around barefoot on grass or at the beach for 30 minutes.
It. Feels. Good.
- Walking barefoot engages the stabilizing muscles, tendons & soft-tissue in and around your feet & ankles, training your overall balance.
Inevitably, moment-to-moment awareness of the spine peeps its head. And as Ken Wilber has said,
“Awareness, in and of itself, is transformative.”
Barefoot walking can be a vehicle for increasing your self-awareness, which will spread to all areas of your life.