Lessons of a Grateful Toe

By Kimberly Braun

Toe by toe my foot sinks into the cool, damp, crisp grass. Blades poke my sole, making the corners of my mouth curl upward with sweetness, as my eyes melt into the morning sunlit path. The middle toe of my right foot draws my attention. Part of this family at the end of my body, she presses the crunchy blades in a way that tickles and causes joy to shimmer upward. Wow, she looks gleeful! She will be my teacher today, assuredly walking with me, or walking me, through each moment.

Hours later, my toes are intentionally spread wide at the end of my flexed foot, organically shining from a spiraled set of legs extended during an asana yoga pose. And there she is, in all her beauty, my middle toe—part of the whole, yet all her own.

After this morning rejuvenation, socks and shoes are donned to jump into an action packed day. How eagerly my toes seem to point themselves into my socks. Once there, they wriggle around finding a comfortable niche where there is still room to move. And my middle right toe situates herself smack dab in the center of the anklet. As my shoes follow, she presses down, feeling the texture of the surface below her, a familiar cushioned pad provided just for her, and the rest of her family, in the base of the running shoe. Ready to go!

Minutes turn into hours. Brimming with energy, my toes keep me balanced throughout the myriad of details encompassing what we call “work.” She walks with deliberation and certainty into all sorts of new places; we are creating a festival right now called Sarasota Naturally and she gets to encounter all sorts of new toes involved in green living and health and wellness. They are toes walking a similar path in life, all hoping for a healthy existence and following choices accordingly with the brain that controls them.

My toes lead a grateful life, and my middle right toe does not take for granted her exalted position.

She is in the center, never needing to endure the brunt of foreign textures that the big toe and the pinky sometimes experience. Things like stickers brushing the side of the foot, or shoes that get worn on the edges. But even if she did, she would still feel grateful, she reflects, since her family is always with her.

After the “work,” my toes are still energized (do they ever really get exhausted?!) Willingly we walk the bridge across the bay for exercise, and they carry me swiftly upon hot concrete. We do one lap over, then over again, and again, and then one last time. The monotony does not dampen their simple, ongoing resolve. Not at all, and my middle toe is quite content in the simplicity of it all, just living.

The climax of a great day for my toes is when they are freed from the walls of my gym shoes, which hold them in place for hours on end…Aaaaah, they wriggle in the fresh air as socks are discarded and flip flops are embraced. Now they can really play, maybe they crunch up close when I sit, or spread out wide when I walk…but the real fun is greeting other toes in flip flops. Looking down at my middle right toe I can see her joy in getting close to other toes, under the evening sun, brushed by the cool wind. Sometimes she even gets to nestle with other friends, and what a treat. Every time she this happens she says to herself, “I need to do this more often, reach out and touch others, what a source of bliss it is!”

Yes, my toes lead a grateful life. We have teachers with us every moment, and sometimes we don’t even realize that one can be an extension of your own whole with the right perspective. For example, here are some of the lessons I learned from my middle right toe:
All the sensations of life are meant to be felt, and will give great satisfaction, just like the grass was for her. These gifts take us to the deep place within ourselves where true joy can be found.

We shine out as a part of community, always interdependent, just like she did in the yoga pose.

Structure can be fun and give the ability to accomplish great goals if it is used in service, just like the sock and shoe did for her. She took the time to “find her place” and then relied upon it to work and exercise in productive ways.

Where we are positioned in life is a pure gift if we take the time to reflect upon it.

Experience needs to be our teacher, and to do this we let go of the limiting ideas we have about ourselves. We are both an individual and a collective—at the same time. It is not an either/or proposition.

Simplicity is a gateway for continual bliss. My toes found this truth as they walked back and forth over the bridge. Often, we focus on finding the “next best thing,” when what we are doing in the present moment is a source of effortless enjoyment.

Nurturing a freedom of spirit is essential and opens up our playful nature. Gratefulness has qualities of ease and playfulness, as expressed by my middle toe in her flip flop.
Connection is bliss. It is a blessing that can give new life to us. My middle toe counted her blessings and even resolved to reach out and touch more. Gratitude is multiplied as we expand outward with joy and love.

We all have the opportunity to learn from different parts of ourselves, we just need to recognize the true multidimensional nature of our existence in the physical and beyond. What gratitude rushes through my own heart in having such a great teacher with me every day!

Kimberly Braun. M.A., has been devoted to meditation from the age of five, and she spent more than 10 years as a monastic nun in North Dakota and Texas. She completed her Master’s in theology in 2001 in Washington D.C., and is concentrated upon the adult spiritual journey and spiritual companioning. For the past eight years, her work has been focused as a retreat and workshop facilitator, meditation coach, and private consultant. She is also a Reiki Master and fellow seeker on the path to living freely. For more information on her new APP, “Breath and Heartbeat Meditations,” which are available on iPhone and Android, email Kimerly@kimberlybraun.com.

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