It may surprise you to discover how far reaching the benefits of reflexology can be. Not only is it a truly holistic treatment, but it is also an extremely pleasant experience. People get hooked on the good experience of the treatment and the health benefits that they gain from it.
Stress is a fact of life—none of us can escape it—but it is not the stress that is the problem so much as the way we perceive it and the way we handle it. We are all different, and some people handle stress better than others, but it’s also true that there are good and bad stresses. For instance, performing in your amateur dramatic society is stressful in an exhilarating way, but worry, frustration, overwork, relationship difficulties, and money concerns are harmful stresses. As they mount up and our defenses sink, we become more susceptible to illnesses.
So the answer is to find ways of coping with stress and to give the body the necessary tools to cope with these life stresses. Reflexology has been proved over the years to be a really good therapy for coping with stress. If you have reflexology on a regular basis, while at the same time figuring out how you can solve some of your problems and put them into perspective, this can be a lifesaver.
Ask yourself whether you work too many hours. How do you feel about your job? Do you have meaningful relationships? Do you have a hobby, interests, and friends that help you to relieve your stress? How is your diet? Some types of food and drink can be extremely stressful to the body and can cause a real sense of anxiety.
The way we handle stress has a huge bearing on the way we age. During times of worry, our stress hormone levels rise; in young people the levels soon drop back down again, but in older people these higher levels can take days to drop. These prolonged periods when high levels of stress hormones are circulating in our systems eventually have a negative effect on our overall health and well-being. So how can we help to lower our stress hormone levels? One way is to have regular treatments of reflexology.
If we can’t get a good night’s sleep, the world starts to look like a very different place. It becomes harder to cope with everyday life. Relationships become difficult because our nerves are frayed, and everything seems just a little more irritating. Children are noisier, the boss is more demanding than ever, and worries are magnified.
Reflexology works on a deep level to bring about a real sense of peace, and most people say they sleep much better during periods of treatment. The body can cope with the occasional restless night or even an odd late night, but when this disruptive sleep pattern becomes a regular occurrence, it affects long-term health in a negative way. Sleeping well is extremely important for deep healing and regeneration.
During restful, rejuvenating sleep, the body produces human growth hormone, sometimes called “the youth hormone.” During sound sleep, our stress hormone levels fall, which is important to our overall well-being and long-term health. The world looks so much better after a good night’s sleep! Reflexology enhances the quality of our sleep, thus slowing down the aging process and reducing the level of our stress hormones.
Some of the things we ingest can affect our sleep negatively as well. Drinking alcohol in the evening on a regular basis will initially make you drowsy, but later your body experiences a burst of norepinephrine, a stimulant that disturbs sleep and causes the body to feel below par. Coffee contains caffeine, a stimulant that interferes with your quality of sleep and elevates your stress hormones.
Outside events also can make it hard to sleep. An obvious one is a new baby, but living in a noisy part of town or not having curtains thick enough to keep the room dark can also disrupt sleep. Sometimes, for whatever reason, your mind refuses to switch off. An uncomfortable bed or a pillow that is wrong for your sleeping position won’t help, either, but in all cases, reflexology can help you to relax and get a better night’s sleep.
The feet contain information about the whole body, as do the hands, face, ears, tongue, spine, and iris (in the eye). Some acupuncturists treat only the ears (a treatment called “auricular acupuncture”) but still achieve amazing results. Another technique is iridology, in which reading the iris can reveal what is happening within the whole body; after the reading, the iridologist must decide on the course of treatment needed.
In reflexology, the reflexologist can read the feet, but he or she can also work on the whole system at the same time. In other words, the treatment is carried out on the entire body in a totally holistic way. This treatment signals the body to decide for itself the course of action that it needs for healing.
For instance, the client may have a hormone imbalance, and by working the whole body via the feet (or hands), the reflexologist activates the body into balancing the endocrine system. Only the body can possibly know the delicate formula needed for a harmonious hormone symphony.
Reflexology works on the emotional, physical, and spiritual levels. Some people cry during treatment because it releases emotional tension or blockage, but in my experience crying is not a common reaction. I have often seen people find the strength and courage to make necessary life changing decisions after a course of treatment.
Reflexology works on many different levels, but all are positive healing responses. The body never does anything detrimental to itself; it doesn’t harm itself. We are the ones who harm our bodies, so in a way, we are our own worst enemies. We often treat our pets better than we do ourselves.
As well as being a reflexologist, I am a naturopath and nutritional therapist, so I firmly believe, through firsthand experience, that we are what we eat. However, I also firmly believe that we are what we do. Over the years, we adopt behavior patterns that are detrimental to our health and well- being, and even our posture can cause us pain.
Another saying proclaims that “you are what you think.” I once heard a related, old-fashioned saying that states, “By the time you reach your old age, you have the face you deserve.” I love that saying.
Look at an old person’s face and you might see, for instance, a permanent frown, scowl, or grimace, radiating anger, pain, and irritation. But look at another old person’s face and you might see a smile etched into it radiating kindness, calm, and patience.
Like our faces, our bodies also eventually reflect our lifestyles, the food and drinks we decide to consume, the thoughts we choose to think, and the behavioral patterns (physical and emotional) we continue to adopt.
A person who eats well, who is happy, active, confident, and successful (success means something different to everyone), and who is in a good relationship will suffer fewer chronic illnesses, be less susceptible to viruses, and have far fewer aches and pains than a person who is less well adjusted. An individual who chooses a decent lifestyle that includes good nutrition and reasonable activity, and who nurtures valuable relationships and breaks off those that create unhappiness, will have good health. These people still experience stress in their lives, but they will see their cups as half full as opposed to half empty.
Reflexology can help, sometimes by giving an individual the impetus to make necessary changes to improve his or her life. Reflexology helps to balance your brain chemistry and to balance your hormones; it encourages better sleep, gives you more energy, and generally makes you more optimistic.
Children and babies should always be referred to a doctor for illness and disease. Parents, especially mothers, instinctively know when something is wrong with their child; although reflexology can help soothe in certain situations, it should never take the place of medical treatment.
Babies and children thrive on loving touch, and thus respond extremely well to reflexology—they really like it. Very gently rubbing their fingers and toes can work wonders. This will help a lot for babies when they are teething, for example, as it eases their pain so they can sleep better; therefore, it will also do wonders for the quality of your sleep!
If your baby is fretful or if she or he has an earache, very gently caress the area of the foot beneath the instep in a circular motion; this will help to calm the baby and it will help the healing process. The pressure used on your baby’s hands and feet should be a light caressing or stroking rather than pressing.
Children love having their hands and feet touched and rubbed. As children get older, you can use the caterpillar movement on their feet—that is, a walking movement with the fingers and thumbs rather than a rub—but with much less pressure than you would use on adult feet and hands. In this way, children can reap all the same benefits that adults who receive reflexology do.
Children often suffer from unexplained tummy upsets that might be caused by nerves or anxiety. Gently stroke the sole of the foot under the instep to calm their anxieties and make the “butterflies” go away.
Giving a treatment to others can also be very beneficial to your overall health and well-being, as it will make you more relaxed. As you use your fingers and thumbs, you stimulate the tips of your fingers, the ends of the meridians and acupuncture points. (Meridians are invisible or “subtle” lines that run through the body, carrying energy along their length. Acupuncturists and acupressurists work on these points to send healing to the appropriate body areas.)
There is something very fulfilling about helping people, whether they are your family and friends or strangers. There is also the added benefit of learning something new.
Copyright 2018 by Sonia Jones.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Hampton Roads Publishing Co.
Dist by Red Wheel Weiser, redwheelweiser.com
Reflexology Plain and Simple: The Only Book You'll Ever Need
by Sonia Jones.
Reflexology is an ancient healing system that helps relieve existing health conditions and detect future ailments. Reflexology Plain & Simple introduces the history and basics of this form, from beginner’s techniques to more specialized treatments and the use of aromatic oils. Discover which areas of the feet and hands correspond to the body’s tissues, glands, and organs; how much pressure to apply and when not to proceed at all; and how to get started indulging friends, family, and even yourself or move on to your own practice. Detailed instructions guide you through each step of the process and helpful hints throughout provide additional insight.
Sonia Jones, ND trained as a nutritional therapist and reflexologist in the UK and as a naturopath in Australia. Sonia is the owner of the Haven―a health spa, fitness center, and hotel in Panama―and works with a team of practitioners with vast experience in treating and helping guests from all over the world regain their health. Sonia is the author of three books and an entrepreneur of her own brand of totally natural and organic skin care products. Visit her website at http://www.healisticnutrition.com/