Painting of reflexology from a wall in a physician’s tomb in Saqqara, Egypt. 2330 B.C.E.
Reflexology is a type of massage that is focused on the feet. It is an ancient practice and its origins are unknown. Many ancient cultures practiced reflexology to heal and care for its peoples; such as, the Egyptians, the Greeks/Romans, and the Japanese (these are the well-known societies that have left behind historical evidence, but others may have also practiced a similar form of massage and named it differently.) As the word implies*, it is the study of the reflexes, specifically of the feet and sometimes of the hands.
Reflexology functions on the basis of there being a soul and an interaction between the soul and the body. Reflexologists consider the constantly moving energy of the body and whether there are blockages or free-flowing energy, noticing its positive or negative effects, and massage the feet with specific techniques to alleviate or improve the patient’s body . In Eastern cultures, the Japanese** and the Chinese, reflexology and other types of massage are still practiced today. Massage in their cultures is seen as a serious and deeply beneficial form of treatment to improve health. Reflexology session can take up to forty minutes***.
The areas of the feet that correspond to the areas of the body in reflexology.
If you are aware of the kundalini and the chakras of the hindu system, then you can understand how reflexology works. Throughout the whole body there is energy flowing, the energy of the soul and astral body, and there are energy meridians, energetic lines that travel from the toes up to the head. Because wellness is a mixture of physical and spiritual care, both medical/physical treatments and spiritual solutions/knowledge should be sought out to improve overall health and massaging the feet in a certain way or through reflexology provides an accessible and physical way to aid with well-being concerns. With specific and gentle intent, a reflexology massage can remove blockages in the body that might be causing pain or discomfort and even illnesses (especially stress related illnesses). For example, if someone is suffering from back pain, the reflexologist would pay extra care to the edge of the feet in the arches. To relieve or improve a patient’s health might require multiple sessions, but there are still other benefits for receiving a reflexology massage. Any type of massage causes relaxation and release of tension in the body, and so, simply receiving the attention of loving hands can ease pain.
How is reflexology practiced? It can be offered at spas and in some medical offices, but also anywhere else. Reflexology can be practiced anywhere because the only tools are the hands. There are accessories to enhance a reflexology practice but what is needed is already present: your hands and the receiver’s feet. A basic knowledge and sensitivity to the energies of the body are necessary to improve the body and not harm it.
Reflexology, although beneficial, should not be practiced on pregnant women and people with varicose veins. Exactly why, I am not sure, but it is the same principal as to why only certain yoga postures should be done when pregnant. Foot massages can still be given to pregnant women, as long as it is gentle and not consciously focused on moving any energy of the body. Also, and this is for all types of massage, massage should not be practiced when uncomfortable or in a negative state of mind.
However you want to improve your well-being and enhance your spiritual practice, reflexology is one way that you can do it. In studying the basics of reflexology, I have noticed the tight relationship science and spirituality have in this type of practice to bring about balance in the body. Through reflexology you can go deeper than the skin and focus more on the physical aspects of your existence, becoming more familiar with the internal workings of your body. By knowing how hard your body works to function and provide you with your physical experience a deeper appreciation of the body can be had.
* Origin: reflex-ology years 1500–10; < Latin reflexus bent back, past participle of reflectere to reflect with the Greek suffix-λογια (-logia has come to mean the study of…)
**Shiatsu is a form of massage from Japan. It includes massage, acupuncture, osteopathy, and chiropractic.
***All of the information found in this post about reflexology I got from studying