Barefoot & Fancy Free

Tansy Dowman is a well-being coach specialising in Nature connection. She offers walk and talk coaching sessions to connect mind & body and supports women to reconnect themselves and their purpose. She also offers regular mindfulness walks and nature connection workshops.

There is something quite strange or perhaps even mischievous about walking barefoot - a sense that we are breaking some kind of invisible rule or taking a risk, or just plain being a bit weird or crunchy.

My recent discovery of Earthing however, has blown that thinking out of the water and I now grab any chance to kick off my shoes and walk barefoot through the wild.

Earlier this year, I took a course in Devon on Forest Bathing to become a qualified guide. At several points during the course, we were invited to walk barefoot through Dartmoor National Park. Up until that point, my experiences of walking barefoot had only ever been saved for nice lush green grass or the beach.

Walking in a dense woodland was new territory for me and although I embraced it, there was definitely an initial sense that it was going against the norm. The thing is though, what IS weird, is just how disconnected we have become from Mother Earth in so many ways. We have forgotten that we are entirely dependent on the existence of Earth for our own existence and that for both to survive we must co-exist in harmony. Connected.

A little bit of perspective here too. If you imagine the length of a football pitch as the length of time humans have existed (some say between 6-7 million years including our ancestral roots) then the amount of time we have spent not living directly in Nature would be just 10mm of that pitch!

Add to that the introduction of shoes with synthetic materials and high heels, it’s a little easier to understand how we have become so disconnected from the Earth, so ungrounded and I hate to be gloomy but so unwell.

So why is Earthing so beneficial for us? Earthing or Grounding refers to the concept of contact with the Earth's surface electrons, usually by walking barefoot outside. Some studies on Earthing suggest that this practice supports the organ system and works to reduce inflammation in the body. The results of studies on people who practice regular Earthing report a reduction in pain with scans showing a reduction in inflammation. They also report better quality sleep and improved physical and mental health. Not bad for doing something that doesn’t cost the Earth (pun allowed?)

OK, back to the simple act of kicking off your shoes and socks and creating an unspoken connection with your ultimate ‘home’. What I was surprised to find was how soft the woodland floor was and how good it felt to free myself in this way. It also forced me to slow down too.

My natural reflexes were of course on guard a little for anything uncomfortable, so I found myself walking slowly and mindfully. I purposely focused in on what I was doing so my busy mind melted away.

How many kids do you see running around barefoot? My kids grab any chance to free their feet and as I always say, we have lots to learn from these small, wise (albeit infuriating at times!) beings. Children haven’t lost their true nature and they don’t question their intuition like we do so walking barefoot is just natural for them.

So how does the thought of walking barefoot make you feel now? Excited? Repulsed? Scared? The next time you are walking through Nature, will you give it a go? Even for just 5-10 mins? Let’s break the rules, let’s be weird. Mother Earth would love to reconnect with you I’m sure.

Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

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