The meaning of the sensitivity of the
Eunice Ingham, ‘The Mother of reflexology’ used a
very simple and clear way to describe the basic tenet of reflexology- ‘Find a
sore spot and work it out’.
Her description has great simplicity and validity, and in many ways is the purpose of our work. However experience has shown there are several other factors concerning the ‘hidden meanings’ of a painful reflex.
Most reflexologists were ‘weaned’ on the belief that a painful reflex indicates, a problem in the area corresponding to the reflex. The other belief is that the absence of painful reflexes indicates perfect health.
Both of these beliefs are erroneous and cause a great deal of
confusion to the reflexologist and their patients.
What I am explaining here is covered in great depth at my seminars. I will just cover some of the main points that need to be considered in this Blog.
A painful reflex = a corresponding problem in the body?
This belief, although in some instances true, prevents a proper evaluation and interpretation of what this is telling us.
The first fact is that in good health a patient should display
active and ‘live’ reflexes. This will no doubt go against the ‘grain’ to most
reflexologists belief systems.
When I am treating a new patient, the first thing I do is to detect what type of vitality the reflexes are showing. In good health they display a normal robust ‘feel’. The temperature and texture of the feet are other valuable ‘markers’ to note. Why should the reflexes display a
painful response in this case? Because the life force, vitality or Chi is circulating freely.
Lack of reflex sensitivity = good health?
Conversely, a patient with subdued and dull reflexes does not necessarily indicate they are in good health! In poor health or serious disease the vitality of the person is comprised, causing the absence of detectable reflexes.
I am sure that you have experienced this phenomenon with a new patient, who displays dull or even absent reflexes, during their first treatment. Even though they have a medically diagnosed illness!
It may come as a surprise to you (and to the patient) when after
perhaps two or three treatments you (and they) find that the reflexes have come
alive! When this is experienced, it is often seen as a bad sign, and that they
are getting worse! If not reassure the patient who will obviously become alarmed.
In fact it is a positive sign that their
vitality is coming back.
I have treated possibly many thousands
of very sick people. Most of these (there are exceptions) display absence of
reflexes and have generally dull feet. However, a sick patient who perhaps has
been medically diagnosed with a serious illness but still displays some
‘active’ reflex texture has in my experience a better reflexology prognosis
and even a better medical prognosis. This is why, as an example, a seriously ill person may display active
and detectable reflexes early on, while as the disease progresses will these
reflexes will become less active. There are cases where various medications are
medically prescribed which will subdue the reflexes, such as strong analgesics
and or steroids. Vitality or life force is the key to healing.
To be able to read the ‘textures’ of the
reflexes is one of the most important assets of successful treatment.
How this is done will be covered in depth at my
The meaning of reflex textures
In part one; I mentioned that it is the ‘disturbed’ reflex textures which give meaning to our work.
Being able to detect and interpret their meanings gives reflexology extra dimensions rather than illusions. Acknowledging this allows us to experience the individuality between
each patient, revealing their neuro-energetic status at the time of treatment,
and further, to observe how this fluctuates over successive treatments.
It will also help to understand the myth which states that a painful reflex always
indicates an ailment!
As an example I will focus on the endocrine system, for it is here where a great amount of confusion exists regarding the meaning of a painful reflex.
As an example, let us focus on the meaning of a very painful and disturbed pituitary reflex. Because it is hyper sensitive, does this confirm there is a problem with it? Possibly
but if it is found on a hypothyroid patient for instance, it could be a clue
to another interpretation - that the pituitary is being over stimulated by the hypothalamus to try and ‘kick start’ a sluggish thyroid. The pituitary is working overtime, just doing its job. Nevertheless enough to create a disturbed reflex!
The same example can be found with the adrenal gland reflexes. These can also show up as being extremely sensitive, perhaps due to a hyperactive state, and trying to support another hormonal function for example. In this case there is nothing wrong with the adrenals, but
it still shows as a disturbed reflex.
I am more concerned when reflexes do not show as painful, for example, in the case of a known ailment.
An absence of painful reflexes is not an indication of good health!
In my many years of involvement of experiencing how various hormonal issues
show up on the feet, it has shown me the sensitivity and complexity of the neuroendocrine system.
These disturbed reflexes are found on all the other body systems in varying forms.
For those who have been ‘weaned’ on the painful reflex = disease belief, find it daunting to accept another way of looking at reflexology. But once understood, it adds another
dimension to their work, and because of this awareness they are able to be far
more proficient and professional in their work.
This blog is just a very brief overview of a subject which is covered in full at seminars.
Once I came to the realisation of the information the feet can give us, it made me aware (and I repeat) of the incredible unity, and sensitivity of the neuroendocrine system and its influence on every cell of our body.
When this system is working harmoniously the body is said to be in homeostasis, in other words in perfect balance.
However, good health depends more on the food we eat and the exercise we do, although these are of great importance, there is another factor to take into consideration. Which is the dominant thoughts which take refuge in our minds.
Every thought has the capacity either to give power and strength, or weaken and even destroy the body as powerfully as the most toxic poisons!
Nothing so powerfully disrupts homeostasis as thoughts of fear, worry and frustration! These thoughts leave imprints on the organs of the body, and are detectable to us as disturbed reflexes. This is why so many patients feel such a sense of release and emotion after treatment.
Reflexology is being made far more complicated than it needs to be. The most important
factor in being able to give effective and therapeutic treatments is by the power and influence of touch, in combination with the ability at being able to detect and ‘interpret’ the reflex textures and then applying the appropriate type of contacts.
Tony Porter copyright July 2013
Tony is a London-based reflexologist and founder of Advanced Reflexology Techniques (ART)