Julie Peters (author of Want) helps us understand what it means to have onset pain at different parts of our body.
When we confront obstacles, our feet may be the first to know it. The spiritual meaning of foot pain lies in our direction and the path we’re on.
Our feet carry us through our lives. They hold our weight, help us find our balance, and give us the means to move forward in our lives. What does it mean, on a spiritual level, when we have foot pain?
There are plenty of types of foot pain. Bunions, plantar fasciitis, or even a series of stubbed toes can give us pause. Why the feet? What are my feet trying to tell me?
These Feet Were Made for Talkin’
When there is mysterious pain in the body, it’s helpful to consider what that part of our bodies means to us. Our feet are our means of getting around. Put one foot in front of the other, literally and metaphorically, and you’ll get somewhere. Now may be a good time to ask yourself about the direction your life is taking. Where are you going—or not going? Is something happening too fast? Is something changing in your life that doesn’t feel right?
If this is happening, see how you can slow down. Can you hit the brakes on those changes that don’t feel good to you? If not, we may instead need the pause to process feelings like grief or anger around unwanted change.
Spiritual Meaning of Foot Pain
Plantar fasciitis is a very common condition that can seem to appear out of nowhere. It’s more common in runners and in people who stand or walk a lot at their workplace. It basically means that the plantar fascia, which is designed to support the weight of the body in movement and in stillness, has become overstressed or overstretched. Metaphorically, the body’s support system is breaking down.
Here we can ask:
- How am I feeling supported in my choices—or not?
- Am I asking too much of myself or pushing myself forward when I’m actually not ready?
- Am I feeling the weight of the world? Have I taken on too much responsibility?
For some people, orthotics (prescription shoe inserts) can help relieve plantar fasciitis because they provide needed support to allow the fascia to heal. For some, it can also be really helpful to stretch the rest of the foot, to open the toes and calves, allowing a stressed body part to receive space and support from elsewhere in the body.
[Read: “Yoga for Sore Feet.”]
Stubbing your toes is very common and always surprisingly painful. But you can go years without ever stubbing your toes, and then suddenly it starts happening all the time. This could be an indication that there are spiritual obstacles in your way that you’re bumping up against. In Hindu mythology, Ganesh, the elephant-headed god, is revered as the remover of obstacles—but he’s also usually the one who put the obstacle there in the first place. Mythology always asks us to reflect back on ourselves: How are we putting obstacles in our own way? Here, we can ask ourselves:
- Where am I trying to get to?
- What obstacles are in my way?
- Which of these obstacles did I, myself place?
- How can I remove these obstacles—and do I want to?
Foot Pain and the Root Chakra
According to chakra theory, the feet are an aspect of muladhara, the root chakra. The chakra itself is located at the perineum and pelvic floor, but it connects down through the legs and especially to the bottoms of the feet. The feet represent our first contact with the earth, and this is the element of home, security, safety, and any concerns about money. When something is off with our root chakra, we are often feeling unsafe on some level.
Feeling pain in the feet can indicate that we are not connected enough to the element of earth. We need grounding, and possibly some time in nature. Here are some questions we can ask around the root chakra:
- When was the last time I connected to nature?
- Do I feel safe in my body?
- Do I feel safe in my home?
- Is my home a comfortable and welcoming place for me?
- Do I have enough money to feel secure in my life?
- Have I been eating enough nourishing food in a safe environment?
Between Your Toes
If something feels out of balance here, there are a couple of things that might help. Setting your bare feet down in the dirt, sand, or grass can be incredibly powerful for recharging the root chakra. Eating nourishing food in a relaxed environment can be an excellent grounding practice. We can’t always control our home or financial circumstances, but we can take a cue from our feet that these areas of our lives need some kind of attention.
In general, when the feet speak up, they are asking us to slow down and evaluate the direction we’re going in. The spiritual meaning of foot pain is therefore a question of our path and what else is on it. When we feel safe enough where we are, the feet will be ready to take us forward.
8 Steps to Recovering Desire, Passion, and Pleasure After Sexual Assault
Have the courage to heal. We know, increasingly, how common and devastating sexual violence is for women, but we don’t always talk about how survivors can recover from the trauma and return to desire, sexuality, trust, and pleasure. Want is the story of how Julie Peters did just that―and how you can, too.
Move past the fog of trauma. In the years after the assault, Julie was in what she calls the fog of trauma: the colorless, tasteless experience of barely getting through the day. No one―not counsellors, support groups, or other survivors―could give her any advice about how to find the desire that could bring her back to joy, intimacy, and connection. She had to make it up on her own. In Want, Julie tells the story of getting from the devastation of trauma to living a full life in eight sometimes challenging, often bumbling, and occasionally delightful steps.