Probably because I am so used to taking off my shoes and walking barefoot in sacred places, I hadn’t considered significant additional reasons (other than reverence) for walking barefoot whilst performing Arunachala girivalam. So was very interested to recently read an article about the health benefits accrued from ‘grounding’ by making a barefoot connection to earth.
Below I reproduced a short extract from ‘The Healing Benefits of Walking Barefoot’
“Have you ever wondered why it felt so wonderful to fall sleep on the sand, or lying on the earth looking up at the clouds? Do you notice how different you feel when you sleep on the ground under the stars?
Apparently you were experiencing the flow of the earth’s electric energy connecting to your physical body, which has been scientifically proven to promote healing and create a deep sense of well-being within us. You simply connect your bare feet directly to the earth and enjoy the organic healing benefits.
Our modern lifestyle has separated us from connecting to the subtle but ever-present energy that is on the earth’s surface. Many studies have been done that confirm the healing benefits of direct connection to the earth and some believe that the health benefits derived from this ‘earth connection’ may be equally as important as the Vitamin D we obtain from the sun
Throughout history cultures around the world have honored our connection to the earth. In Ayurveda it is called Prana and in traditional Chinese Medicine Qi or Chi. Native American tribal leader Ota Kte writes about how the old people of his Lakota Sioux tribe came to love the soil. They felt her mothering power and were soothed, strengthened, cleansed and healed by sitting or walking barefoot on her surface.
Research has shown significant improvements in inflammation-related disorders, chronic pain, sleep disorders, low energy, high stress, muscle tension, headache relief, hormonal and menstrual symptoms, protection from electromagnetic fields etc., by direct daily contact with the earth.”
It has been often stated that one of the benefits of walking around Arunachala, is the value of breathing in the scents of the rare, health giving herbs found on the slopes of the Hill. So if walking barefoot on earth is beneficial how incalculably more beneficial would it be to walk barefoot on the sanctified earth of Arunachala?
Ramana Maharshi would often tell his devotees that when he talked of Arunachala his words were meant to be taken literally and not figuratively.
In the Skanda Purana (Chapter 9 – The Efficacy of the Circumambulation of Arunachala’) verse 35 reads:
“If a person takes even a step by way of circumambulation, the entire earth is sanctified by coming into contact with the dust of his feet.”