Reflex, Reveal, Restore
Reflex … the word conjures up images of sitting in my doctor’s office as a toddler as he/she pulls out a weird-looking hammer. It is has a shiny metal shaft and on the end sits a triangular-shaped rubber head. Excitement used to brim within me as I hoped my reflex would be dramatic. I knew there was nothing conscious I could do to influence the outcome, so I would focus intensely on “hoping” my knee would bounce back so strongly that my leg would stretch out completely straight.
It felt great, the whole mystery of it: the fact that someone could hit a part of me and I would automatically respond.
Maybe you were not as fascinated by the rubber hammer as a child; maybe it provoked a bit of trepidation that this nice doctor was going to hit you—but have you ever thought about it? What is a reflex, anyway? If it is important to see that we have them active within us, perhaps the same principle could be applied to a whole body of holistic care.
You would not be the first to think this; in fact, the use of reflexes as a way to stimulate health in the body has been around for a very long time. Archaeology has found murals of ancient reflexology medical practices in Egypt as early as 2330 BCE and other places such as Japan and China. It has not been until recently—that is, the 19th century or so—that it formalized into a systematic practice. Pavlov’s studies on reflex and fight-or-flight were highly influential, and America adapted practices in the early 1900s. It was around 1938 that Dr. William Fitzgerald developed a system of what is called “reflex areas.”
In reflexology the feet and hands are believed to carry an entire map of each part of the body, and when pressure is exerted upon specific points, the coinciding part of the body is believed to be affected.
You need to experience it to really get a sense. When Elaine Koelmel was working on my feet in the video here, she found that the sides of both feet (corresponding to my lower back) were very tender. Her observation from simply touching my feet was that my lower back needed a little TLC, and she was right. I had not told her I was sore before we began, but my feet sure did! In applying pressure to these tender points she stimulated the reflex to my lower back. How cool is that? We can work on areas in need without even touching them. My Reflex touched, Revealed my need, and was used to Restore wellness to my back.
There are many reasons our feet and hands can be used to create health in the body, but one of them (the one linked to Pavlov’s theories) says that pressure sensors in the feet and hands are a part of the body’s reflexive response that makes possible the “fight or flight” reaction to danger. Feet ready to flee and hands ready to fight communicate with the body’s internal organs—think adrenal glands—to make possible either eventuality. The perception of pressure by the feet and hands taps into the reflex network that makes possible our every move. Reflexology, consistently applied, provides an exercise of these pressure sensors and thus a conditioning of the internal organs to which they are inextricably tied.
Elaine will be giving an interactive talk at Celebrate Wellness Fest called “Meet Your Feet.” Not only will she introduce you to basic reflexology, but you will walk away with your own foot chart and specific techniques you can use on yourself at home, or on a lucky loved one. Be sure to visit the website and check out her presentation time. The festival, brimming with live music and overloaded with free health treatments, classes and talks is just around the corner: March 10-11 at Phillippi Estate Park.
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*This Week In Sarasota, a proud sponsor of Celebrate Wellness Fest 2012
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