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What do your feet say to you?

June 18, 2008 by Lightwaves

Jen Spinner shares her connection to this often under-appreciated body part.

I was born pigeon-toed, with my toes pointed inward. To encourage my feet to grow straight, I had casts on them for the first year of my life with a rod placed between my ankles while I slept. Thus began my relationship with my feet. We talk daily, my feet and I. Sometimes, they remind me that I can’t wear just any old pair of shoes that I must have good support to walk around pain-free. Other times, I use my feet as a crutch, thinking, I can’t go for a run because my feet will hurt too much.

Dialogue with my feet continued when I transplanted myself from city life in Toronto to the Ashram. Doing Karma Yoga almost everyday gave my feet the shock of their lives! Gardening, vigorous cleaning, working in the kitchen and hiking through the forest grew new muscles in my feet. I’ve always had weak ankles, but the unsteadiness in my feet was new. My feet were blatantly asking me to be aware of my footing, to slow down and observe each step. At first, I ignored them, thinking, there are so many jobs to do, I don’t have time to watch every step. My feet would be miffed and respond by wobbling an ankle, threatening to crumble my body to the ground. My mind quickly complied with being aware because, I reasoned, I didn’t want to learn a lesson lying in bed with an injury. I pondered exactly what my feet were telling me. (featured on the left is original art by Jen Spinner entitled tree)

At the Ashram, the Divine Light Invocation is part of spiritual practice and everyday life. In my experience of being lead through the meditation, I am asked at the start of the practice to take a moment, find firm footing, be grounded and connect with my breath. After realizing that The Divine Light Invocation by Swami Radha does not include the instruction to find firm footing, I asked one of the residents about it. She said that it’s one way to commence concentration by uniting mind and body. I realized that whenever I practice the Light alone, I always make sure I literally have a firm foundation of flat ground and strong feet. My body is a powerful tool to tap into my subconscious and my sore feet are symbolic of growing spiritual roots. Swami Radha explores feet as roots in her book Hatha Yoga: The Hidden Language. For salamba shirshasana or headstand, she notes that “when your feet, which are symbolically rooted in the earth, become rooted in heaven, the nourishment you receive is no longer intellectual or even philosophical, but spiritual. To be rooted in Heaven is to receive nourishment from the Divine.”

My feet taught me that taking time to nourish my spiritual roots is vital to walking my Path. Cultivating awareness of my body through daily spiritual practice, writing and reflection are tools that I’ve always had but honed at the Ashram. When I transport my fresh spiritual roots back to the city, in less than a week, I will be careful to give myself time to settle in, make space for my spiritual practice and listen to my feet.

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