|Posted on April 26, 2014 at 5:35 PM|
An easy way to draw the energy down to our feet, and thus out of our heads. Applicable to a number of problems characterized by excess above and deficiency below, including insomnia (especially of the "my brain is spinning with a zillion things to do and I can't relax" variety), allergies, headaches, night urination (bedwetting in children, wet dreams for adults), lower back pain, knee pain, and, obviously, cold feet. All it requires is a bucket deep enough to submerge your feet up to the ankle bones, and hot water. This is not the same as a hot bath; by submerging one's whole body in hot water, we do not draw the energy in any particular direction. Also, the feet can withstand approximately 15% warmer water than the rest of the body (because it doesn't house any delicate organs or glands).
Temperature: The water should be as hot as you can take without scalding; a good way to achieve this is to start with a comfortable temperature for you, water level just touching the lower part of your ankles (think running socks), then gradually adding hot water until your ankle bones are covered (quarter-crew socks). Less water than that is a foot bath, not a soak. For some people, like those with digestive problems, the water level can go all the way up to just below the knees, but mostly this is unnecessary. It is also unnecessary to add stuff like epsom salt or herbs to the water.
Duration: It is important to keep the water hot until you break a sweat, and to stop before your sweat starts dripping down. This usually takes between 15-30 minutes, but some people start sweating sooner, and some need to soak for an hour before their pores even begin to open. That's okay. Everyone's different. If you are soaking for a specific problem (such as a migraine), you can also base your duration on the alleviation of your symptoms (in other words, stop when the migraine gets better, even if you are not sweating yet). For people who take a long time to break a sweat, it might be worthwhile to invest in an insulated cooler, which keeps the water warm. I use a Coleman 28 quart cooler and it's big enough for myself and my partner; we sit across from each other and read companionably while soaking our feet before bed. Because we are both reasonably healthy, and there are no additives in the water, I use it to water our garden the next morning. (Please note, however, that foot soaking water from a seriously ill person can actually kill plants, because of the toxic qi that is released from a point called Bubbling Spring on the soles of the feet during the foot soaking process.)
Contraindications: I have yet to find a person for whom foot soaking is a bad idea. If I do think of something, I'll add it here. Even if you are perfectly healthy, stimulating the important points on your feet and ankles regularly is a good idea. I guess if you have open wounds then you would want to avoid foot soaking. If you have fungus like athlete's foot, you can add distilled white vinegar to lower the pH, thus making your skin inhospitable to the critters who want to live there. You cannot do this too (in)frequently. There are old people who soak every day for general well being, sick people who soak multiple times a day to control symptoms, and busy people who only soak when they have time to. All of them benefit from soaking their feet in hot water.
Categories: Self-care Tips