As the resonance of Earth Day 2021 continues through the month of April, we turn our attention downwards to feel into the special connection we hold with our planet Earth, and reflect on what more we can do to nourish her.
Taking off one’s shoes to feel the Earth under our feet is an intimate experience that can feel invigorating, mystical and somewhat naked. Going barefoot allows us to feel a stronger connection with the natural world and cultivate a sense of presence with what lies beneath us. Almost like a meditation, the experience of baring our feet can challenge and even defy our notions of ourselves as civilised beings. We all enter this world naked and bare, yet in this contemporary age, something stands between us and our primitive self.
Many Holistic, Homeopathic and Ayurvedic practitioners even suggest that by reducing footwear, we can better equip our bodies to cope with some of life’s challenges. Yogic principles invite us to live presently and observe what our experience of the present moment is. Yoga teaches us to “bend and not break” in order to better weather the challenges of life, making for a flexible body, mind and a rising, joyful spirit. With these principles in mind, we might see that wearing shoes may simply be another mechanism to protect our bodies from pain when we are already well equipped to naturally deal with danger as and when it arises. Practicing Yoga upon the bare Earth can be a deeply moving and intensely reconnecting experience as we drop back into our primitive selves and feel the pulsation of the natural world in our hearts.
Perhaps our wearing of shoes can be viewed as a much deeper indication of our turning away from our natural capabilities and even nature itself. Over the next few months, I invite you to feel into the physical act of walking without shoes and experience the depth of union you experience with the Earth. As in meditation; you suddenly become aware of the sensations on, around and within your bare skin, arriving back into the present moment as you energise and connect back to yourself and your surroundings. This can serve as a deeply grounding, mindful practice that rekindles our kinship with Mother Earth – allowing us to arise from the Earth, with the Earth and for the Earth.
This is essentially what grounding means, in both senses of the word. The majority of our bodies are made up of water which is great for conducting electricity. When we go barefoot we ground to the Earth’s negative ionic charge, which has many amazing health benefits including; the reduction of inflammation, endocrine balance, sleep cycles, detoxification of our drainage systems and a profoundly calming effect on the mind.
In the more metaphysical sense, the feeling of the ground under our feet is hugely nourishing and supportive. It allows us to feel more connected to the natural rhythms of the Earth, which in turn stimulates the energy within our first Chakra. Muladhara, or the Root Chakra, is energetically responsible for holding and grounding us at the very basis of our being. Like a tree, it is the roots through which we draw up nourishment. It is the mass of our bodies and the sanctity of home in our hearts. When we walk upon the Earth with bare feet, Muladhara can move into energetic balance, helping us to feel more grounded, safe and connected to the deepest essence of our being.
As Yogis, it is our duty to seek the path of nourishment, compassion and non-violence as we move forwards in our lives. This means walking upon and tending to the Earth, our sacred home, with the reverence and respect that she deserves. Although we must choose the path of non-violence, this does not mean we cannot use our voices and we must also choose the path of justice – to live in service to our beautiful planet in these days where she needs us the most. Below I have listed a handful of ways and initiatives to get involved with to nurture the Root Chakra energy and walk the Earth with roots running deep;
- TreeSisters International: A wonderful charity utilising planting and women’s empowerment initiatives to reforest the Earth.
- Eden Reforestation: Another amazing charity working to reforest the worst affected areas of the world and reduce poverty by employing local people.
- Ecosia: A web browser you can install instead of Google. They plant one tree for every search you make!
- Rainforest alliance: A charity movement fighting deforestation and climate change. (Look for their certification on goods such as coffee, chocolate, tea and palm oil.)
- Earth Justice: They do what their namesake suggests – because Earth needs a good lawyer!