by Dorit Brauer, published in The South African Reflexology Society Journal, 2011
The Holistic Approach:
Jane was in her early forties. Dressed in professional attire, she wore black pants, a white blouse, an elegant pearl necklace and her shoulder long brown hair was neatly pulled back into a pony tail.
She glanced at the foot charts on display in my office and asked, “So is it true that the whole body can be treated through the feet?”
Jane suffered from severe lower back and hip pain. She had consulted numerous doctors. No underlying physical cause was diagnosed, and prescription pain medications had only provided minor relief.
I noticed her voice crack as she spoke, “I’ve tried everything. I figured if nothing else works I might as well seek alternative medicine.”
I understood Jane’s skepticism. When I was first introduced to Reflexology, I didn’t believe all the claims either. My curiosity had led me to study this natural and non-invasive healing art, which originated in ancient China and Egypt. Now, after a decade of practicing Reflexology, I have witnessed countless miracles and I am a firm proponent of the holistic approach.
“Yes, the feet mirror the entire body,” I said to Jane. “The nervous system and the meridians link the reflex points to the organs. Meridians are a system of energy lines extending throughout the entire body from head to toe. They form the basis of Chinese Medicine and are also instrumental in shiatsu and acupuncture.”
Reflexology is an integrative part of the health care system in many countries. In Israel, where I received my education, it is covered by insurance and you may receive a physician’s referral for Reflexology. But in the United States, not everyone is familiar with the valuable health benefits Reflexology offers. Jane was one of them.
“Reflexology offers a broad variety of benefits,” I said. It harmonizes all bodily systems, enhances the self healing power of the body, strengthens the immune system, relieves tension in the muscles and balances the emotions. A particularly important aspect for us busy Westerners is that Reflexology provides a deep relaxation and stress reduction.”
“I’m so stressed, I could use some relaxation,” Jane sighed.
The success of Reflexology is that it treats the origin of a problem and not only the symptoms. We look at the human being from a holistic perspective. The imbalances that occur in our physical bodies are not isolated from the events in our lives. In allopathic medicine you see a specialist for every part of your body and often the harmonious interaction of all organ systems is lost out of sight.
“When exactly did the pain occur for the first time and what was happening in your life then?” I asked.
Jane’s face registered surprise. Nobody had asked her this question before. “The pain started shortly after I received notice from my company that I would be laid off. I’ve worked there for twenty years, and now I’m losing my job.”
From the holistic point of view, the mental state of my client had immediately manifested in her body. The pain in her hips could be translated as her sense of losing balance. The lower back is related to our ability to stand up for ourselves and to our feelings of security and safety in our physical existence. Jane did not feel safe and secure.
She rested on my treatment table while I analyzed her feet. Located between the second and third metatarsals the skin was red and extremely sensitive to the touch. These represent the reflex points of the kidneys. Chinese Medicine relates every organ of the body to an emotion. The kidneys are related to fear and anxiety; they also represent the level of a person’s life energy. Jane had said she feared her future without her current job and that she was having difficulty sleeping. I expected her reflex points of the hips and lower back to be sensitive, and they were. The stomach and pancreas reflexes showed tenderness, which was related to the stress.
During our Reflexology session I focused on harmonizing Jane’s body systems and stabilizing the energy flow to her kidneys, by gently massaging the reflexes of the urinary system and the ending points of the kidney meridians, located in the little toes.
I also taught her a stress reduction technique, which she could later practice on her own. Jane learned to relax every part of her body one by one and replace negativity and tension with healing light. Scientific research has proven that the practice of this progressive relaxation increases the blood circulation, and it is a valuable tool for pain management. Jane reported a significant decrease in pain after her first Reflexology session.
“I have not felt this relaxed in years,” she exclaimed with a smile.
Jane practiced the stress reduction exercise daily, which allowed her to take part in her own healing process. After the first session, she was able to sleep through the night. She also reported increased confidence in her future and a more positive outlook on life.
After three sessions, her pain was completely gone.
“I would never have imagined that my very real hip and back pain might be caused by my fear of losing my job,” she said.
She continued to see me once a month in order to stay balanced, and to enjoy the benefits of preventive medicine.
Cleansing and Detoxification:
In Jane’s case it was easy to track down the origin of her ailment. This is not always the case. We are complex and multi-dimensional human beings and many factors influence our health and well-being. Reflexology allows the client to embark onto a journey of self-awareness, which may bring the underlying cause to the surface.
Throughout the first sessions the main purpose is the cleansing and detoxification of the body. The reflex points of urinary, lymphatic and digestive system are activated. At the same time the client experiences a mental cleansing. To understand this we have to look at the brain wave level activity. Brain wave level activity is measured in hertz (cycles per second). Our brain functions between four hertz, equivalent to deep sleep, and 20 hertz, equivalent to high activity, e.g. when we solve mathematical problems or experience high stress. The frequencies between 8 and 9.5 hertz are referred to as alpha waves. These occur the moment before we fall asleep. The experienced Reflexologist maintains the patient at the alpha wave level activity throughout the entire session. The patient feels like he or she is floating between falling asleep and awakening. It is a time of relaxation and enhanced self-healing.
This special state of mind allows the client to truly connect to themselves and experience dream-like states and vivid imagery. Sometimes memories are released from the subconscious mind, which can directly address a client’s current health condition.
In ancient Greece philosophers knew how to use the brain’s alpha wave level activity to their advantage. Pythagoras was known to work long hours on finding a solution to a problem. At the end of the day he took a warm bath, and while sinking into a deep relaxation, the solution would reveal itself in form of a dream.
The case history of Ronit illuminates this principle in Reflexology. Ronit was in her late twenties, she had long, dark hair, a slender physique and a cheerful smile, which vanished as she explained her reason to see me. She suffered from unexplained chest pain and heart palpitations. Like Jane, she had consulted several specialists and no physical cause was found for her problem. I took her medical history and analyzed her feet. I did not find anything unusual, so I began to work on the cleansing and detoxification of her body. I stimulated the reflexes of the urinary, lymphatic and digestive organs.
During her fourth session, Ronit began to cry uncontrollably and her entire body shivered violently. I guided her through deep breathing exercises and stimulated the related reflex points on her feet.
She calmed down after several minutes. Following the session she gave me the details of her experience:
“I felt very relaxed and began to drift off. All of a sudden I saw myself back when I was twenty-three. I was on my way to college, driving in my car. Someone cut me off, and I swerved, lost control of my car and drove into a tree. Nothing serious happened to me, but I totaled the car. I was very lucky. I just relived it all, in slow motion. It was scary.”
Ronit spoke with a calm voice. She had not mentioned the car accident when she had given me her medical history. She also did not mention that ever since the crash she had been terrified to drive a car by herself. Ronit’s chest pain and heart palpitations completely went away after this session. She was also able to drive alone without fear. This gave her a new sense of freedom and independence.
The Benefits for All:
The connection of our feet to the organs of the body and the principles of Reflexology apply to us at all times, whether we are aware of it or not. Let’s take the law of gravity for example. Before its discovery in 1667 no one ever heard of it, but still when a person threw a stone up in the air it fell back down to the earth, because the law always applied.
I would like to give two examples to illuminate this fact:
Donna, a 49-year old High School Teacher, had been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis. Her foot specialist suggested surgery to relieve the pain. She did not want surgery, preferring to live with foot pain for the rest of her life. I accessed her reflex points and asked, “Are you, by any chance, experiencing symptoms of menopause?” Indeed, half a year prior, Donna entered menopause and right after the pain started.
In Donna’s case the reflexes of her inner organs, the hormone system and female organs were negatively affected, causing her foot pain.
After a few sessions, she arrived in high heels. “I was in so much pain that I could only wear sneakers,” she said. “Now my feet feel fantastic, and I can wear nice shoes.”
Along with the foot pain, Donna’s hot flashes disappeared. She also reported an increased level of energy, better digestion, and better sleep.
“I feel ten years younger,” she said.
In Pennsylvania, I offered Reflexology for a brief period at a spa in downtown Pittsburgh. One day I watched as a pedicurist excessively massaged the foot reflexes of the female organs of a pregnant woman. These important reflex points located underneath the medial and lateral malleolus assist in the induction of labor. When I urged the pedicurist not to stimulate these areas on pregnant women, she looked baffled. “Really?” she asked. “Just a couple of weeks ago I gave a pedicure to pregnant client, and when I saw her sister two days later, she said my client had just given birth four weeks prematurely.”
Reflexology is considered safe, however, certain precautions may be considered, as demonstrated in the example above. An individual treatment plan is tailored according to the needs of the patient. The true art of Reflexology is the preventative measure. We do not have to get ill, in order to begin thinking about our health. In ancient China, the physicians’ task was to care for the health of the population. If someone got ill, then the doctor had failed. This approach is opposite to our Western perspective.
However, the soaring costs of our health care system may make it necessary to introduce non-allopathic measures, in order to benefit the health of the population. Scientific studies conducted in Europe, Israel and China have proven the validity and the success of Reflexology as an integrative part of the health care system.
All forms of complimentary medicine, including Reflexology, have become more popular in recent times. Many people realize that there are limitations and shortfalls of today’s high-tech medicine, which sometimes treats the human body as if it were a machine. My hope for the future is that we are entering an era where conventional and complimentary medicine begin to work together hand in hand for the benefit of all.
Schedule your Holistic Reflexology appointment with Dorit Brauer
Becoming A Seeker – Dorit explains the root for her sense of urgency of living and why we shouldn’t take anything for granted.