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The Ancient Healing Art of Reflexology

By Alister Bredee

Reflexology like so many of the complementary therapies is not new. It has been around for a long time and was known in ancient Indian, Chinese and Egyptian civilisations. Wall paintings dating from 2330 BC were found in the tomb of Ankhmahor in Egypt. Murals depicted the practical use of aromatherapy, acupuncture and herbalism as well as reflexology; surely if these healing techniques were ineffective they would have been discarded a long time ago!

Linda Anderson, Member of the British School of Reflexology, is based in Saffron Walden in the U.K. She tells us that modern Reflexology started with an American physiotherapist, Eunice Ingham who, the 1930s, was shown a series of "foot maps" by a visiting team of Chinese doctors. The doctors used the charts for diagnostic purposes. The material sparked Eunice's interest and she soon started investigations of her own. She experimented with sensitivities in the feet to see where such sensations led her. To her astonishment she discovered that massaging the points depicted on the feet in the Chinese diagrams could alleviate many bodily ailments. Soon, "the foot lady" as she came to be known, was able to draw up her own map and went on to found "The International Institute of Reflexology" in the early years of the Second World War.

Linda is quick to point out that in spite of the fact the Chinese doctors were using the reflexes to determine a diagnosis, reflexology is not used as a diagnostic tool today. However, it is wonderfully relaxing, producing an overall feeling of well-being which acts as a very effective counter-point to the stress that is all pervasive in the modern busy world! She says that all organs and parts of the body have specific reflex points which can be found on the hands and the feet. Congestion, an infallible pointer to "dis-ease", makes itself known by sensitivity in the reflex points. Often the blockage is due to a build up of toxins. Very occasionally, when pressure is applied to a reflex point, the client will yelp in pain. This is a sure sign that something is amiss. A good reflexologist is considerate and gentle and will avoid causing unnecessary discomfort whilst using the feedback to delicately massage the client's feet and restore the free flow of energy. In the process, toxins are released and congestion dispersed, leaving the client feeling relaxed and re-vitalised.

Linda explains that the average "Reflexology Session" lasts from 45 minutes to one hour. The Therapist works on the hands and feet by massaging with the thumb in short creeping movements. The idea is to cover all the reflex points in the time available. Special attention is given to any sensitive areas, which are massaged gently until the sensitivity diminishes. Thus energy blockages are cleared and "chi", the Chinese word for "life-energy," is able to circulate freely once more, allowing the body's own healing energies to come into play and restoring its natural equilibrium. Interested in this subject? Try this link for more of the same.

Alister Bredee is a freelance writer, author, lecturer and trainer and Natural Health Practitioner. See also

He lives in Thailand and can be contacted at: [email protected]

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