I have come to appreciate the barefoot culture here in Ladakh. Walking into the humble home we are staying in, the soft and cool wood against my warm felt is something I have started to crave. The labor and effort put into the construction of the polished wooden floors somehow seems so much more evident now. The dusty, but not dirty, floors hold character representative of the humility of this home.
In the monastery too, I slipped off my shoes and walked up the smooth stone steps to the entrance of the prayer hall. My heel touched the floor first, followed by the ball of my foot, and then the tips of my toes. With each step, I grew more intentional about the placement of my feet upon the wood, becoming increasingly aware of the spiritual nature of the airy room. I felt as if I was understanding the place from the ground up.
As we entered the older prayer hall of the same monastery, I noticed the wooden floor was a darker brown and slightly more flexible under my feet. Each placement of a foot prompted a deep creaking noise as the wood adjusted to hold my weight. The wooden planks were just as soft as the first building, but held some small cracks and gaps, alluding to the 600 years of use the room had housed. This floor had provided the foundation for the building, preserving it through all the natural difficulties that came upon the monastery. Each floor has its own story.