Posted by: Bruce Black | July 18, 2008

Bare feet

Let’s face it. I’m not a big fan of bare feet. (Not mine, anyway.)

Until I stepped onto the mat, I didn’t pay much attention to them.

If you want to know the truth, I found my feet embarrassing.

They were too small.

Too pale.

Too smelly.

The nails on both big toes were discolored.

And the little toes on each foot hung off to the side like little rolls of unused dough that I could barely move.

To cover my embarrassment, I wore socks, even in Florida, where most people delight in showing off their feet in attractive sandals or take long walks in bare feet on the beach.

Not me.

I hid my feet in sneakers (which, admittedly, only made them more smelly).

But then I stepped onto the mat.

I wore socks at first.

But, little by little, I grew comfortable with the bare feet on the mats around me.

And before long I removed my socks, left them in the front room with everyone else’s shoes and sandals, and walked onto the mat in bare feet.

Bare feet! (And nobody even noticed!)

It felt like walking on the beach.

Or in a field of grass.

I could feel the earth beneath my toes!

One night our teacher started the class by asking us to massage our feet.

We worked our fingers into the soles, rubbing the heels, squeezing the toes. I held my feet in my hands and felt more relaxed than I’d felt in years, as if all the tension that I’d held in my body over the years had found a way to escape through the bottom of my feet.

Funny, isn’t it? How our aversion to some aspect of ourselves can keep us from fully experiencing ourselves?

Now one of my most favorite poses is Happy Baby. I delight in rocking from side to side on my back, my legs in the air, my feet clasped in my hands.

My bare feet!

And such delight is possible only because I was willing to confront my own embarrassment, remove my socks, and go barefoot.

Journal Practice: Is there a part of yourself–your hair, for instance, or your eyes or your knees–that you find embarrassing? Can you explain why? And can you explore ways that you might accept yourself as you are?

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