The benefits of ‘earthing’ are numerous for both your physical body as well as your wellbeing, as we discussed last week. When you engage in a mindful practice, such as yoga, meditation or somatic movement practice, doing so barefoot opens up a new world of opportunities and experiences. This week, we invite you to take your barefoot practice outdoors.
Mindful Practice Outdoors
Engaging in outdoor practice may be a new experience for you, particularly if you live in a colder or wetter climate (such as beautiful, if unpredictable Scotland!)Outdoor practice may have been something you’ve considered but not felt confident doing before. Or perhaps it is part of your regular practice already?
Whichever stage you are at, take some time this week to focus specifically on your feet and how the sensation of being barefoot outdoors affects you, not only physically, but also emotionally and mentally.
Ideally, you want to find a space outdoors where you can relax and spend some quality time engaging mindfully with the experience. This may be your garden, the beach, the woods… the choice is yours. If you’re new to being barefoot outdoors, aim to spend only about 15 minutes barefoot to begin with and increase the amount of time as you become more familiar and experienced with it.
If you regularly spend time doing somatic movement practice, yoga, martial arts or any other type of practice, challenge yourself to take the practice or training outdoors. You could even do of the audio guide practices outdoors. If you normally use a mat, aim to do your practice off the mat and directly on the Earth. Make sure that the area you are practicing in is safe before starting.
The key is to bring your awareness to the feet. Use your breath to guide you. Make sure that you explore the whole of the foot, from the ball of the foot, right through to the edges of the feet and the toes. As you move into each posture or take each step, allow yourself a moment to simply note which part of your foot you are using or placing weight on. How does it feel? What impact does this have on your whole psycho-physical body?
Explore doing your practice on different textures. How does it feel when you practice on grass compared to sand? How is moss different to a woodland floor, covered in soil, fallen leaves and twigs? In what way does a pebbled beach differ to smooth, flat rocks? Does the angle of the terrain you are practicing on affect your balance?
How does your foot react to each texture? Does your foot sink willingly, surrendering into the earth, or do your toes curl protectively? Is your weight predominantly placed on the front part of your foot or are you sinking into the outer edge of your foot in an attempt to stabilise your balance?
Explore the same terrain on different days. Compare how it feels to be barefoot on a warm, dry day in comparison to a wet or cold day. How does the temperature affect the surface and terrain? How does this in turn affect your practice?
It’s important to remember that the length of time you engage in barefoot practice is unimportant, but rather the level and quality of your engagement is what matters most.
Take some time, during or after your practice, to reflect on how the different terrain and textures affected you and your practice. Note, not only the physical impact, but also the mental and emotional impact too. Was there a particular type of terrain you connected to more deeply? Was one type of texture more inviting and relaxing? Why?
If you normally engage in journaling, this is a great time to do it. Alternatively, you might take the time to engage in some creative or reflective responses in any form of your choosing.
This week we invite you to engage in some mindful practice whilst barefoot outdoors. Whether you practice somatic movement practice, yoga, meditation or any other type of training or practice, including martial arts, take it outdoors. Explore different textures and terrains.
Share your experiences and creative responses and reflections in the comments below or on our Facebook page. Let’s reconnect with the earth and discover something new in our practice this week.