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  • Leela Kirloskar

Gathering Barefoot Wisdom

And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair… ~ Kahlil Gibran

Spring was gentle in Bangalore, with rows of tender pink and sunny yellow tabebuia and lavender jacaranda trees lining streets and lifting hearts. March and April are when the city is full of flowering trees, a riot of colour that was delightful. It’s hotter now, reflected in the fierce scarlet blossoms of the gulmohur that are suddenly visible at every corner in my neighbourhood and the brave white clusters of champa that hold on despite the stormy rains last week. As the season slowly turned, I watched the flowers and leaves dry and drop off, returning to the earth in their timeless cycle of growth and decay. We are back in a lockdown against a second tidal wave of Covid infections that are a daily reminder of how fragile life really is. It’s hard to watch or read the news this week; like so many, I’m holding on, feeling a little battered every day by the endless visuals and reports. 

This morning, as I immersed in my daily somatic practices outdoors, something about our collective ordinary humanity touched my heart. Just as the earth regenerates its springtime mulch, we will find ways to lean on the resilience we build during these trying times. The wise teacher Sogyal Rinpoche says “Spiritual truth is not something elaborate and esoteric; it is in fact profound common sense”. There’s a peaceful simplicity in the quote that appeals deeply to me and formed the ground for this post. It’s nothing extraordinary, just a barefoot wisdom that reminds us to pause in the anxiety, extend kindness, find compassion, and stay hopeful and connected to our shared existence on this beautiful planet we call home.

  1. Pause for peace. Bring in some stillness, solitude and silence for a little while every day. Finding harmony amidst the noise is a few deep breaths away.

  2. Resilience is inherent in all of us. It makes us softer, more receptive and more aware of what gives us inner strength. Feel your skin, not your armour. 

  3. Belonging is your place in the world of work, community, family, friends. You need to feel it first before others do. 

  4. Make movement intentional. Perspiration is our body reminding us of our aliveness.

  5. Boundaries require a conversation. Dignity comes from speaking your truth about what works for you and what doesn’t.

  6. Our shaping is what makes us unique. Lean into your own stories and lineage to feel the fullness of who you are. 

  7. Beauty soothes the soul. Watch a dragonfly soar on a gentle current of warm air, take in the colour and texture of a fallen leaf or the glow of sunlight reflected on a flower. 

  8. Kindness is wholehearted behaviour. It is fundamental to our being human and it is all around us. Believe in goodness and you’ll notice it, especially in these times. 

  9. Love and grief are intertwined. One brings joy, the other sorrow. Both are necessary to anchor us in our shared humanity. 

  10. Practices and rituals help to ground us especially in times of anxiety and fear. Journal a little every day, light a candle, burn some incense, make a cup of tea. Let it slowly settle you.

  11. Work with your hands, mindfully. Whether you peel and chop vegetables, wash dishes, clean cupboards, cook, garden, dust your bookshelf, write, make music, paint or draw, let your hands give your mind a little rest. 

  12. Connection reflects caring. Reach out to let it in as much as you extend it forward.

And walk lightly, for this storm will pass. It has to.

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