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Mindful feet

How I tried mindfulness and ended up obsessed with my feet

By Alice ElizabethPublished about a month ago 4 min read
Top Story - April 2024
Mindful feet
Photo by How-Soon Ngu on Unsplash

I’m a life-long depressive, but I’ve mostly learned how to live with it. I can recognise when it’s getting worse, I know what helps and what doesn’t. I’ve read all the books and tried all the things and found what works for me. One of the things I tried along the way was mindfulness.

You’ve probably tried it too. Sit there quietly and focus on your breath. Perhaps you will count your breaths. Pay attention to what you can hear or smell. If thoughts interrupt you, just return to your breath, or counting or smelling, whatever flavour of mindfulness you happen to be practising.

Now, I admit it, I never really managed to make it a habit. The best I managed was five minutes every day for about a month during the pandemic when I was working from home. I think I only kept it up for so long because it was a reason to get away from my computer for a little while that was justifiable. Unlike wandering off to the kitchen to find another snack.

Let me ask you a question. How often do you think about your feet? I don’t know about you, but I used to never think about them. Unless they were uncomfortable or hurt or I was actively doing something with them. I was never really aware of my feet or consciously thought about them, they were just there.

How are mindfulness and feet connected, you ask?

When I returned to the office after the pandemic I tried, not very successfully, to keep up with some kind of mindfulness. Because the office is a lot noisier than my spare room at home, it was too hard to find a quiet place for five minutes of mindfulness. However, I saw the app that I used that had a walking mindfulness session. That sounded great. Mindfulness, fresh air, a little exercise and a chance to escape the office. So I set out.

I followed the instructions. I took deep breaths, I noticed the world around me, the sights and sounds and smells. I paid attention to my muscles moving my body. I felt each footstep.

My heel hit the ground first, the weight moving to the ball of my foot and rolling up onto my toes. I felt the change in the terrain underneath my feet. Cracks in the concrete, uneven bitumen, the bumps and lines of the tactile paving at intersections.

I returned to the office, glad that I’d gone out but, as usual, feeling like the mindfulness session itself was more an obligation I’d ticked off my list than something I’d actually benefited from.

Sitting at my desk that afternoon I slipped my feet out of my shoes and put my feet flat on the carpet under my desk. I slid my bare feet back and forth, enjoying the slight roughness on my soles. It felt nice. Just enough texture and resistance to make it almost like scratching an itch, but not quite.

That night I’d gone to bed with socks on. But as I was laying there I slipped them off. I wriggled my toes and grabbed the blanket with them. I released and used my feet to smooth it out again. I moved my feet minutely at the end of my bed, feeling the difference in the textures between the blanket on top and the sheet below. I rolled over so that I could feel different things on different parts of my feet.

When I put shoes on the next day they felt constricting. I tried to spread my toes out as wide as I could inside my shoes but they couldn’t reach a full flex. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like my toes being held back like that. I didn’t mind the pressure and tightness around my instep or heel or ankle, but my toes wanted to be free.

I started to feel a little claustrophobic anytime I couldn’t stretch my toes out to maximum spread. I would take any opportunity to slip my shoes off

When I was walking I’d walk erratically, all over the footpath because I wanted to step on any variations in the terrain because I wanted to see how they felt under my feet.

After a while the initial hyper awareness of my feet receded. It’s been a few years since my feet were awakened in this way and these habits have been tamed somewhat. I still don’t like being unable to stretch out my toes, but I know it’s just temporary and will leave my shoes on. I’m still very aware of the way the feeling of the ground changes beneath my feet, but I just walk normally.

When I was training for my 10k I’d spend a long time in the shower after running moving my weight around onto the different parts of my feet to see what hurt. Is that a stress fracture? Is that plantar fasciitis?

My feet were fine, just the fatigue you’d expect after running 10k.

I’m still more aware of my feet than I ever was before I tried mindfulness. I’m sure most people don’t think about their feet as much as I do, but I’m glad I do it. Sometimes, like after a run, I would like to be able to switch it off, but mostly it’s pleasant. Slipping off my shoes under my desk to scrunch my toes on the carpet. A soft blanket laid gently on bare feet, almost tickling. The way the concrete changes to bitumen then back to concrete when crossing the road, maybe a small side step on the way to feel the smoothness of the white lines as you cross. Sand on the beach as it changes from dry and shifting to wet and compact.

Mindfulness didn’t take with me, although I know others find it a useful tool to help manage depression. I don’t think I need it. My depression is fairly well under control these days and I think I’m pretty adept at recognising the warning signs that it’s getting worse and taking steps to make sure I’m prepared for it. My feet don’t factor into that though. My feet are always there, I’m always aware of them, whether I’m sitting or standing, walking or running, or spending the day in bed.

I’m thankful for the day my feet woke up.


About the Creator

Alice Elizabeth

I'm here to practice my writing and to build a habit of getting words onto the page in a semi-regular fashion. I publish a monthly life update to keep me accountable, other than that expect a mix of fiction and journal-ly type stuff.

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

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    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (6)

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  • Krysta Dawn29 days ago

    I'm glad I'm not the only one that had a hard time staying focused for mindfulness sessions. I only ended up being more mindful of how uncomfortable sitting still was. I didn't get that some wonderful relationship with my feet as you, but I do love treating my feet to cute nail polish every summer.

  • Anna about a month ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳🥳🥳

  • Kendall Defoe about a month ago

    I really do love this one. I go running - did a lot of it during COVID - and I wonder about my back and knees...but I take care of my feet (learned some exercises through yoga to get the blood circulating). I hope you are well, and that you know you deserve the Top Story!

  • ROCK about a month ago

    I am uplifted knowing that someone else out there has taken a positive approach/ attempt at handling depression. I practice mindfulness on and off, for awhile it was an obsession. My feet hurt, perhaps I should have a little more time with them, lol! Congratulations on Top Story!

  • Can you tell me how many views do we need to get an article in the top story

  • Ameer Bibiabout a month ago

    Congratulations 🎉🎉 for top story .Your pursuit of excellence sets a high standard for everyone. Keep aiming for the stars!

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