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Lessons From Our Feet

Tan Hwee-Meng

The ability to walk is one of the most precious gifts we have. Until we learned how to walk, we are completely attached to our caregiver. As helpless babies, we are totally dependent on her to give us what we want. The moment we mastered crawling, standing and walking, we take our earliest steps toward freedom and independence.

We start moving away from our caregivers and exploring the big world around us. Our feet can carry us wherever we choose to go. We can move away from situations we dislike. We can stand on our own two feet. Our feet are truly symbols of our autonomy.

Lesson One:  Own your life.

Our feet connect us to this ground called life.  We carve out our path, one step at a time.  Notice the footprints you are making.

  • Are your steps filled with purpose and joy?  Or do you drag your heavy feet throughout the day?
  • Are your feet dancing toward the beat of your heart?  Or does fear direct your movement through life?
  • Do your feet rush so fast through life that you can hardly breathe?  Or do your feet meander this way and that way, smelling the roses along the journey?

Look down at your feet.  They belong to you and nobody else.  They are yours to command.   Take charge and walk down the road of life you really want.

Lesson Two:  Be bold.

Observe toddlers learning to walk.  Not afraid of failure, they are master adventurers of life.  Always falling, they persistently get back up again and again.      How did we become so frightened of trying?

Remember what it feels to be three again, fearlessly exploring the world, without worrying about the outcome.

  • What action would you take if you were not afraid of failure?

Take that risk.   DO IT NOW.

Lesson Three:  Walk Away.

Lay out all your shoes on the floor in front of you.  Wear each pair and ask the following questions:

  • Do my feet hurt?
  • Are the shoes too tight?
  • Do I feel imbalance wearing them?
  • Am I uncomfortable in them?
  • Do I hate them?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, it is time to give these shoes away.  You may be thinking, “What a waste of money!  I spent a fortune on those shoes.”   Yes, you may be wasting money but imagine walking through life in pain and misery.

Just like hanging on to shoes that hurt us, many of us are so used to enduring pain and suffering silently.   We forget we have 2 feet.  We forget we can say no.  We forget that we can walk away.

Lesson Four:  Just start.

You may wish to create an evening of deep conversation and share this activity with some friends.

Put on some slow music.  Bring along a bottle of special lotion (the one that you would buy to impress a special lover).  Gently and with reverence, massage your feet.  Don’t worry about techniques.  Just touch your feet in a way that feels good.  Do it slowly, one toe at a time.  Don’t forget the heels.  And most of all, don’t worry if your feet look good.  Just allow this sensuous massage to relax your whole body.

As you take the time to cherish your feet, think of all the places and situations that you have walked.   No matter where you were, your feet have stood by you, grounded you and carried you through good and bad times.

If you are doing this with friends, take turns and share the most meaningful memories.

Discuss the following:

  • If you could retrace any steps, would you have walked a different path?
  • If the answer is yes, why not start now?  What is stopping you?

All journeys begin with a single step.  So start.

Lesson Five:  Embrace this moment. 

Sometimes we are so busy going somewhere that we neglect to just be here now.  Our minds are caught somewhere between the past and the future.

To center yourself, look down at your feet.  Wherever your feet are, there you are.  Take a deep breath and exhale slowly.  Imagine your feet sinking deeply into this moment. Invite yourself to return to this moment, to this pair of feet.

Hwee-Meng is the director of School of Inner Work and Taking Care of Yourself program. For more information about her workshops, please contact [email protected].