Foot Chi for All! A Reflexology Path for Your Garden

I have a dear friend who loves to walk barefoot in his garden. I know he enjoys the sensation but I wonder if he knows how good it is for his health?

In fact, I am thinking of suggesting the addition of a 'Foot Chi Path' to his amazing landscape...

Have you ever heard of the Chinese tradition of Stone Stepping?

This ancient practice recommends walking barefoot on a surface of rounded, small stones for a variety of health benefits.

When the scientists at the Oregon Research Institute control tested Chinese cobblestone stepping thay found that the older adult participants "experienced significant improvements in mental and physical well-being."

Their study suggested that this simple activity could be an answer to the quest for a "simple, convenient, and readily accessible exercise program that will reduce health problems and improve quality of life of the aging population."

The names for this cure-all vary: stone stepping, cobblestone-mat walking, pebble path, foot chi path,  Reflexology Path or Barefoot Health Path. Whatever it is called, this idea will capture many serenity gardeners' imaginations.

The rekindled interest in this ancient practice has been spearheaded by Jesuit priest who heads a congregation in Taiwan - Father Joseph Eugster. Here he writes:

"In nearly every village in Taiwan they have built special paths of pebbles and every morning at 3 or 4 o'clock, people walk barefoot around the pebble path for a half hour before they go to work. Hundreds, even thousands do this. It has become a way of life. I think this is very important. We eat three times a day for our health. For me it is like praying or meditation, I need it for my bodily health and I think every body needs it." (Father Josef Eugster, (British) Reflexions , March 1995, pp. 16-17.)

Father Eugster was introduced to cobblestone walking and reflexology in 1977 when he suffered from Rheumatoid Arthritis in his knees. It cured him.  He gradually developed his own variations on the known techniques judging their value solely by the results and now he has taught his techniques to the world.

Father Josef has also taught Reflexology to blind and handicapped people in Taiwan,  assisting them in finding an ethical means to support themselves. Since Reflexology is highly sensitive to touch and intuitive feel, he feels their natural handicap can also become a significant advantage. What a great idea!

The bottom of the foot has more nerve endings than any other part of the body. These are connected to the various organs it follows that stimulating these nerves stimulates the organs!

Cobblestone walking can help relieve tiredness and provide a general boost to wellbeing.   This idea opens up so many opportunities for gardeners and designers alike. Healing Gardens should all incorporate this idea.

I hope to see many Foot Chi paths in the future. 

by Bill Benlsey, Bensley Design Studio, Thailand


  1. All week I have been thinking I need to go for a reflexology session! So often I find your posts are exactly what I have been needing to hear. I never heard of a reflexology path, but of course I want to build one in my own serenity garden!
    Thanks for another wonderful idea!

  2. How cool is that...I get a weekly reflexology massage for my hands and feet and it has helped me tremendously...I would love one of these or to use one

  3. i always learn about interesting new things on your blog! they are always inspired, progressive-minded, but not too kooky. i love footrubs, i mean reflexology ; ) the feet are tender, sensitive creatures, so it makes sense to create paths to stimulate and sooth them!

  4. well, I am a little kooky..but that's what makes it fun! (smile)

    thanks for your comment!

  5. The Chinese have been doing this for thoudands or years. Not to mention they pretty much all live to be 100.

  6. Im a landscape designer in Central MA.
    Am new to your blog. So enjoying it, Jan. Mayday history and images were great. and the foot chi stone circle is fabulous. Would love to make one for a happy customer.
    have a productive season.

  7. You too! enjoy those rainy days when you have some time to breathe.

  8. Ahhhh! I'd like to just soak in the calm and serene spirit of this place. The Chinese have been using cobblestone walking reflexogy. It is believed to stimulate the lymphatic system and boost the immune system.

  9. Very informative post.
    We do walk barefoot when at home but to walk on these river pebbles seems to be a great eye-opener.
    Lots of food for thought. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Interesting,feet are the most sensitive part of the body in my book

  11. I agree! foot massages are the best....

  12. i found this is really interesting; i keep the idea for my next garden... A guy from France

  13. Thanks guy from France - I think it will be very well received..and fun also!

  14. I just got back from China last week and loved seeing all of the neat path designs.

  15. any great photos? you have a wonderful website, Soothing Walls.

  16. this place is looking so nice........


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