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What the Sole says about the Soul

I lent against the railing for a moment to take the weight off my feet. For the first time in thirty plus years, the bottom of my feet were blistered and so sore I could hardly bare to put them to the ground. I attributed it to the shoes I had chosen for this particular mainland trip – the combination of hard soles and the hard pavements of the city conspired, I thought, to shred my feet that were more used to soft soles and beaches. It wasn't until a few months later, I stepped off the ferry onto the mainand, in shoes I am accustomed to wearing, and before I'd walked a few metres found myself wincing with every step as the bottom of my feet blistered just as before.

I am generally minded to explore the emotional and spiritual cause of a condition before launching headlong into treatment. With my feet, there was an unexpected common factor. In the first instance, I had schlepped across town to deliver a letter seeking clarity about the nature of a friendship and in the second, I had spent the four hours of the ferry crossing writing about the experience of falling in love with this man and how I felt about it not turning into the romance I had hoped for.

I’ve found it helpful, as I’ve reached for the intangible basis of an ailment to notice what aphorisms spring to mind in relation to that particular body part. 'Standing on my own two feet' and, 'putting one foot in front of the other' were two that arose as I considered my painful feet. The feet are also connected to the root chakra – the place from which we feel safety and rootedness in life and the particular location of the worst of the blisters, in the centre of the heel, is the point associated in reflexology, with the ovaries.

As I sat, sitting being a necessity because the pain of walking was savage, I considered how much I have struggled to recover the feeling of security after the end of an abusive relationship. I read an article recently that suggested men are the keepers of security and women the keepers of sexuality in relationships. It's a bit too deterministic a distinction, but it had resonated with me nonetheless. My need to be shielded and protected as I have done the vital feminine work of birthing, breastfeeding and nourishing my children has not been met fully as the sanctuary of my home has been invaded with cruel jibes, shouting, humiliation, most devastatingly sexual humiliation and neglect.

Birth for me was the dismantling of The Curse that women were laid under for eating first of the Tree of Knowledge – ‘In pain will you bring forth your offspring!’ There is pain, certainly, but I found that to welcome pain as a gift to the experience of labour because it shuts out all other distractions, enabled me to unearth the orgasmic quality of birth beyond the scare stories and hospital bright lights. Michel Odent, poet, obstetrician and natural birth champion, exhorts women to create places to birth where lovers too might revel. Low lighting, privacy, the freedom to make guttoral noises, warm water, fragrance, delicate touch. Perhaps it's my Cancerian nature as much as my womanliness that has luxuriated in the creation of hallowed spaces where the sacred acts of love making and birth can unfold with dignity and freedom.

There is great power within a female body to protect itself and its offspring. A deer in the midst of giving birth can suck the infant back into her body if a predator is sensed nearby. Adrenaline reverses the process so that the mother can run to safety. I have certainly experienced the closure of both womb and heart as I have run for safety. By virtue of my age, any relationship I develop now won't involve birth giving, but I am noticing that the desire to be protected and shielded, accompanies the opening of the heart to love after so many years of occlusion.

After an abortion, I recall the thought, now I must give birth to myself. I'm revisiting that thought, prompted by my tortuously sore feet. I wasn't in a mature enough relationship to bring that first pregnancy to fruition, but as my heart tentatively opens again in my maturity, I can consider the possibility of a relationship in which the connection with the divine beloved masculine midwifes the birth of the Self.

Like the divine beloved feminine, the beloved masculine is an eternal principle that presented itself to me in this particular man, but will come to me again in the form of another. As this knowledge sinks into my heart, I can allow myself to put one foot in front of the other, standing resolute and strong on my own two feet. I don't have to run. There are Daoist exercises I can explore to revitalise my ovarian energy centres and restore balance after the experience of allowing myself to be vulnerable in love has momentarily knocked me off kilter and amplified my longing to be supported and protected. And, I have an established practice of doing the Emotional Freedom Technique to ease physical symptoms and emotional pain.

I am grateful to these blisters that brought me to a stop. It's impossible to plaster the soles of the feet, so I’ve just had to stop and sit and relfect. I'm grateful to my feet for the way they hold me up, I'm grateful to the baby whom I could only welcome for a short time in my womb, I'm grateful for the man who revealed the power of the divine masculine to me after so many experiences of toxic masculinity, I'm grateful to my ovaries that have delivered me four beautiful daughters, I'm grateful for the menopause for bringing me the opportunity for a different type of birth.

The soles of my feet, sore as they are, have revealed my soul's gratitude for the life that's unfolding in me and they're a map to the places of imbalance where I can direct healing so that my heart remains open and I move on with ease and love.

What's your experience of accessing your spiritual and emotional truth through the symptoms of the body?

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