I recently watched a video where young man explains his love for parkour and freerunning. Parkour has long fascinated me so I like to keep in touch with what’s going on in the practice. At the end of the video he explains that we live in a world where we are constantly surrounded by symbols and we are often disconnected from the real physical world. Freerunning brings that connection back. You focus on what your body is doing. The past doesn’t exist and the future isn’t there yet. You are connected with the present only.
What he said sounds like meditation to me… you focus on only the present and nothing else. You are exercising your mind and body while removing all unnecessary worries that cumber your mind nearly all the time.
When you remove your shoes and go out for a run (or walk), you must pay attention and forget about all the unnecessary worries that you are bound to have. Your feet provide your mind with a continual flow of feedback about the terrain and keeping you connected to the real world in the present. That focus on the present, I believe, is very good for you. Sure there are other ways to forget the worries of every day life by zoning out. There are video games, television, etc. In moderation these activities may not cause any harm but they are not productive. When you get out and move your body you are becoming more healthy physically and mentally. You have the satisfaction of knowing that you are being productive and preparing yourself to take on all the various mental stresses that we face each day.
I see so many people each day that are plugged into a virtual reality (music, texting, internet, etc.) that they forget about the importance of plugging into reality as well. Our bodies are well equipped with senses to give us real time feedback of the world around us yet we dull our sense of touch with padded shoes, we block our hearing with headphones blazing music and we do everything we can to distract our minds from thinking about reality.
Going barefoot allows us to break out of our perceived comfort zone and remember what it is like to sense the world that we walk on. It gives us the opportunity to be focused on reality without overwhelming our minds with the worries that slowly chip away at our health. It encourages movement and fun which gives us exercise, releases endorphins, and relieves stress. When stress is gone and the mind is better at focusing then the strenuous tasks of every day living are more manageable. The sole is good for the soul!