She says there’s no magic at play here, everything is connected and reflexology is simply about recognising those connections
by Brenda Bryden
I’ve always believed in the value of alternative therapies. Meditation, herbal healing, reflexology, aromatherapy … all about promoting health in the long-term, and you can’t help but feel like there is some ancient wisdom behind it all.
Don’t get me wrong though, I know that science and modern medicine are some of the chief reasons that life as we know it is even possible today. But the whole medicine-for-profit thing has always bugged me a little. There must be more to healing than paying a fortune to treat the symptoms of disease only after they appear, right?
So I jumped at the opportunity to meet Kim Brand, a Cape Town aromatherapist and reflexologist, not only because she is going to introduce me to reflexology, but also because she is to my mind unique among professional therapists.
Kim is blind; she lost her eyesight in a horrific car accident eight years ago. And despite completing her teacher’s degree immediately after her recovery, Kim changed her vocation, studying aromatherapy massage and reflexology, and eventually opened her own mobile therapy business (her loving and supportive life partner drives her to go see clients). This was going to be remarkable on so many levels.
What I know about reflexology
I go in knowing just the basics: There are lots of nerves in the feet, and reflexology involves applying pressure to very specific points and areas on the foot, each point corresponds to different organs and systems in the body. (I later learn that the same is true for hands and even the ears though.)
The theory of reflexology is based on the belief that by manipulating points on the body, the body’s circulation and nervous system is stimulated and energy is balanced, contributing to an amazing list of health benefits.
Reflexologists follow a map of the foot (which is in effect a map of the body) that indicates all the points and the corresponding organs, glands and muscles. Reflexologists divide the body into 10 energy zones; each zone corresponds from fingers and toes throughout the entire body all the way to the top of the head. Pressure is applied through a number of micromanipulation techniques such as thumb and finger walking to create the desired response in the body.
We do not cure; we facilitate healing
When we finally meet, Kim tells me that reflexology is not a diagnostic tool or a cure for health problems, but is a wonderful complementary treatment for many conditions including headaches, anxiety, stress, sinusitis, asthma, diabetes, PMS and cardiovascular complaints. It is also thought to have many benefits in palliative care of people with cancer.
“Reflexologists do not cure medical problems, we help the body to heal and repair itself by facilitating detoxification, increased blood flow and overall energy balance. Reflexology is an important tool to achieve emotional, mind, body and spirit harmony,” says Kim.
A consultation with Kim begins with a discussion in which she determines your health issues and expectations of the treatment. “Many clients have a clouded perception of what reflexology can and cannot achieve,“ she explains. “Communication and a strong client/therapist relationship are an integral part of the therapy. Understanding a client’s medical condition, their pain threshold and their general lifestyle enables me to determine the areas I need to work on the most.”
It’s about overall health
According to Kim a reflexologist may perform a general session to aid relaxation and increase blood flow to all organs, or they may focus on a specific problem area to improve the healing process.
“I tailor-make each treatment to suit a client’s specific needs. For example, if I have a diabetic client who needs to be injected with insulin, I work specifically on the points corresponding to the pancreas and on areas where blood circulation is poor.
“In every treatment session, I educate my client on adopting an overall healthy lifestyle, including diet, exercise, stress management and finding the right balance between work and relaxation. And, of course, I emphasise the need to follow doctors’ advice and continue with any prescribed medication,” says Kim.
Uplifting and energising
At the end of my information gathering session with Kim, I am treated to a general reflexology session, designed to relax me and experience some of the many benefits, something I wish all you readers will try, even just once. I am particularly intrigued to find out how intuitive the process is, especially as Kim is blind.
Within minutes of touching my feet, Kim hones in on my most problematic area – the sinuses. When I ask her if being blind makes her more intuitive and heightens her other senses so that she can immediately identify my problem area, she responds with a definite no!
“The body tells me what you need, there is no miracle at play here. It is all about the connection between the therapist and the client.” She then laughingly adds “but the fact that I am not visually distracted probably means I focus better. And clients, especially those with body image issues, tend to feel more self-confident because I can’t see their appearance and probably would not recognise them outside of my treatment room.”
I leave her treatment room, feeling uplifted, energised and stuffy nose-free!
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