Reflexology - more than just a foot massage?

Most people are familiar with the term Â?ReflexologyÂ? as this method of holistic healing has greatly increased in popularity over the years. But what is really behind this ancient therapy? Is it more than simply a foot massageÂ??
Reflexology is a complementary therapy based on the principle that the entire body is reflected in reflexes in the hands and feet. Tension, illness, weaknesses and diseases can manifest in the reflexes and may be experienced as tender or painful areas. Using precise thumb and finger techniques the practitioner aims to activate the body's self-healing capacity to relax and rebalance the entire body. No-one knows for sure how Reflexology works but several hypotheses have been put forward to explain the mechanism behind it, although none have been scientifically proven.
According to one theory, the practitioner breaks up patterns of stress in parts of the body via the many nerves in the feet by applying a Â?techniqueÂ?. This technique sends a signal to the nervous system which is processed in the brain and then relayed to the internal organs so that adjustments can be made to restore the bodyÂ?s optimal function. Another theory is that the body contains an invisible life force or energy field and when this Â?life forceÂ? is blocked or imbalanced, illness may result. Stimulation of the foot can unblock and increase the flow of vital energy to various unhealthy parts of the body and promote healing. Some therapists believe that there is a deposit of crystalline structures in the reflexes which are broken down through the massaging techniques. Other possible explanations for the beneficial effects of Reflexology include the release of endorphins, the bodyÂ?s natural pain killers, stimulation of nerve circuits in the body, promotion of lymphatic flow and the dissolving of uric acid crystals.
Regardless of how Reflexology works, it has been around for many thousands of years. Believe it or not, Reflexology was being practised on hands and feet in many ancient cultures - notably Egyptian, Indian and Chinese - as long as 5000 years ago to relieve pain and promote healing. There is a wall painting in the tomb of the highest official after the Pharaoh Â? Ankhmahor, in Egypt near Cairo dating back to 2330BC which contains what looks to be a representation of the practising of the early version of reflexology.
Reflexology as it is practised today in the West, developed from the work of Dr W Fitzgerald, an American ear, nose and throat surgeon, in the early part of the 20th century. There are many different techniques in use today including Vertical Reflexology (in which the recipient remains standing), Colour Reflexology, Zone Therapy and Sound Reflexology. Reflexology doesn'Â?t have to be performed on the feet; it can also be given on the hands, ears or even face. One of the advantages of Reflexology is that it can be performed on virtually anyone; the elderly, children, pregnant women (with caution) those with physical and mental disabilities and those who are bed-ridden. Even pets can be treated; there are charts showing reflex points for dogs and cats in circulation today.
Reflexology cannot cure or diagnose medical problems and, as with all complementary therapies, a doctor should be consulted if the client is at all worried about a condition or set of symptoms. But many doctorsÂ? surgeries are now recognising the benefits of Reflexology and welcoming therapists into their practice or referring patients.
What about the spiritual aspects of Reflexology? The form of therapy that I use in my practice involves a fairly light technique and a great deal of intuition work. Not all therapists work in this way but I find it to be a very beneficial and calming technique for both the client and myself. All practitioners follow a set routine which covers all the organs and systems of the body in a logical order (although there are slight differences in opinion of the exact location of some reflexes). However, within this framework there is scope for the individual to work in their own way. For example, being an intuitive, spiritual person I observe the general state of health of the client through their aura and the Â?vibesÂ? that are given off. When working, I find that my hands are drawn to areas of imbalance or weakness and I pause over particular reflex points instinctively.Although it is not advisable to Â?tune inÂ? to spirit whilst working on the feet, I often pick up small spiritual or psychic details from the client, some of which I give off and many of which I keep to myself. It all depends how open the recipient is to receiving such Â?other worldlyÂ? information. I also often observe changes in the aura of someone receiving a treatment. A dull, depleted aura at the beginning of a treatment can become bright and glowing by the end. Clients often share the experiences they have had whilst in the meditative state during a treatment. One person reported being taken back to her childhood and seeing the inside of the house she was brought up in over 60 years ago very clearly. Another experienced a tingling energy and an overwhelming sense of tranquility.
These are a couple of examples of the varied effects of a reflexology treatment on individuals. Interestingly enough, I had my first clairvoyant experience whilst being given a treatment myself; I looked (in my mindÂ?s eye) to the side of the couch and was aware of a spirit man Â? a guide perhaps - standing there very clearly.I often use colour in my work, in particular when balancing the charkas or energy centres of the body. There are points for the major charkas on the feet and hands and the corresponding colours can be visualised to enhance the healing process. Sound can also be incorporated into a treatment, by toning the charkas either on the feet or the rest of the body.

© Marie Long 2007

About the author:

Marie Long is a holistic therapist in the Lowestoft, Suffolk area offering Reflexology, Indian Head Massage, Reiki and Scenar Therapy as well as Aura Readings and Spiritual Art.


Author: Marie Long
Copyright © 2023 Marie Long. All rights reserved

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