As a child, I always had to wear shoes and socks. Some of this had to do with the fact that I had extremely flat, narrow feet. When I finally grew out of the orthotics and special order shoes I was a teenager. The summer of my 15th year I was allowed a measure of independence with my friends, and so I discovered, pretty much for the first time in my life, the joy of walking barefoot through grass and dirt. It felt like waking up.
I spent that summer tromping around my best friend's yard with dirt blackened feet. I took time, but slowly I developed a resistance to the cool ground and the sharp points of grass and pine needles, hard callouses around my heels and the balls of my feet - I had never had callouses before!
My mother never really understood my fascination with being barefoot outside. We talked about it for the first time in a long while recently, and I tried to explain to her how grounding and tactile it was for me. The sensation of having the earth under my feet, the pulse of the planet flowing up through my toes - it's therapeutic.
Much of my life I have struggled with the sensation that I am not really in my body, or that I am watching things happen to me from a perch on my right shoulder. Part of this journey is creating strategies to keep me grounded inside my own body, and in my own life. It means that when I meditate I purposefully don't pop out of my third eye, or that I put thought into staying in my body even when the emotional or physical sensation is uncomfortable.
So now every day I make an effort to really inhabit my body. I feel the soft skin of my daughter as she curls in my lap, the thick hair on my son's head as it tickles my nose. I feel my husband's five o'clock shadow when he kisses me, and yes, my bare feet on the cool earth.