My lower extremities got short shrift in the shower for years. I’d scrub my face, arms and torso, but my legs and feet had to make do with the run-off from my upper-body.
It made sense at the time. Legs don’t sweat much, and mine were rarely exposed to the dirt of the world because I wore long pants. How much washing could they need? And my feet—well, in truth, they were just awfully far away, although I did wash between my toes when I wore sandals.
However, it occurred to me during a recent shower that perhaps this neglect of my legs and my feet was not simply efficiency or sloth. Perhaps it was symptomatic of my dysfunctional relationship with my legs and feet. (Don’t laugh; I’m serious.)
During my early years of taiji practice, I would blame my arches when I couldn’t sit a kick and my thigh muscles when my teacher noted that one of my knees was out of line and at risk for injury. Everything that was good about taiji was good from the torso up; my legs and feet were necessary evils.
When I started practicing Yi Ren Qigong, I had a hard time bringing my legs and feet on board. Hey, I knew my feet were down there, because I could see them, but energetically, they were a dead zone.
Small wonder, then, that I had and still have difficulty grounding my energy and keeping my sense of self within my body and connected to the earth.
I am now trying to reclaim my legs and feet as parts of my body—and, small gesture though this may seem, I’ve begun giving them a good scrub when I shower. I wash them firmly but kindly with my nubby washcloth, paying attention as I push my washcloth up and down and around my kneecaps. And I take particular care to give a good rub to the tops and sides of my feet, which are just loaded with acupuncture points, and to the Bubbling Spring Point between the arch and ball of each foot, a place I might otherwise miss.
I’m calling this new practice Scrubbing Legs Qigong. It was not devised by a master, and it may cause eyeballs to roll within the Yi Ren community, but I’m hoping it will help me reconnect with my legs and feet and get their qi flowing.
Indeed, I would recommend this practice to others with grounding issues.
It’s really kind of fun.
Good, clean fun.