That got us hooked on the healing arts and I think I took every course that came to town in those days. Wonderful courses with Dr. Bernard Jensen on Whole Foods and Iridology, Dr. Alzner’s Deep Muscle Reflexology, Werner Erhard’s Seminar Training known as EST which was very mind-altering in those days, and although I loved the Vita Flex method, I went on to get certified with the Reflexology Association of Canada in the early 80’s and became a teacher shortly after that.
At that time, doing all this alternative stuff was nowhere near as close to main stream as it is today — reflexology, yoga, and vegetarianism were still hokey pokey and we were considered a bit weird by our children’s friends. The kids would come home from school and I’d be standing on my head, or be in the corpse pose, or twisted like a pretzel. The visiting kids used to say to our children that there was never anything normal to eat in this house. We were really post-latent hippies raising new age children in a very confusing era. We didn’t have any road maps to follow and were making it up as we went along. We would have visiting yogis, psychic healers, people from other planets (so they said), walk-ins, tarot card readers and lots of wonderful experiences in that household – this is what our children were exposed to – lots and lots of whole person’s workshops and alternative living ideas.
Because our children were exposed to reflexology at a very young age, they often asked to have their feet done and were used to thinking of the body mapped out on the feet. Once, at a doctor’s appointment, the doctor said, “Let me take a look at your stomach” and my one daughter started taking off her shoes. I had to hold back some smiles.
We learned more yoga teachings from our yoga spiritual teacher, Dr. Ramamurti Mishra who was the most delightful yogi anyone could find. We were so very fortunate to have been exposed to his teachings about the philosophy of Ayurveda and the personal doshas (tendencies), yoga chakra healing and various practices for cleansing.
I also continued my education while raising the children and graduated with a degree in psychology and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Human Resources Management. I found that I had a keen interest in personality theory and qualified in the use of the MBTI® (Myers Briggs Type Indicator). I worked for a couple of companies teaching workshops in the use of a behavioural model and got further trained in temperament personality theory. I was having a blast learning all this wonderful stuff for self-understanding and healing.
All of these learning experiences led me to put together how to think of reflexology of the ears, hands, and feet. I realized that with the personality temperament theory (similar to Ayurveda mind-body system), we can think of the human instrument as a wholistic system consisting of a Mental Side which acts as the Dreamer in us and produces our Ideas; a Social Side which acts as a Catalyst in us and generates our Connections; and a Physical Side which acts as the Builder in us providing feedback that helps manifest and consolidate the ideas and connections.
Because I was fortunate to teach all three reflexology courses to students — Feet, Hands, and Ear Reflexology — I asked them what their experiences were and how they felt the three modalities differed. It was from my students that I tied together the knowledge of Ayurveda, personality temperaments, and reflexology modalities into a whole system at our finger tips. The benefits students expressed fit nicely into the principles of Ayurveda and we determined that by doing the ears we felt calmer; by doing the hands we felt our emotions cooled; and by doing the feet we felt the body was stimulated. I was so excited about how this all came together and tried to capture it in The Well-Tempered Life — a book that summarized my experience with yoga, personality theory, and reflexology.
- If the Mental principle is imbalanced, do Ear Reflexology to calm the mind.
- If someone is frustrated, upset or angry, do Hand Reflexology to cool the emotions of the Social principle.
- And if someone is tired, lethargic and dull due to too many time constraints and no time for rest and repair, do Foot Reflexology to stimulate the Physical principle.
Like many reflexologists, we know this is powerful work we’re doing and we’re thrilled when people tell us the impact of our pressure point work on their systems. I always tell my students, “You are not the healer here; your job is pressing buttons. Mother Nature is the healer and each person’s body has its own intelligence. It will take what it needs from your pressure point work and use it the way it sees fit. Your job is to just press the buttons.”
For me, it is best not to label an imbalance in the body but to think more along the lines of the Traditional Chinese Medicine orientation. See the condition as an imbalance of energy and strive to bring the system back to balance – back to homeostasis. Whether it is in the mental aspect with worry or anxiety; in the social aspect with frustration or anger; or whether it is in the physical aspect of fatigue and toxins, we need to strive toward balance and to assist our clients in achieving this with any tools, skills, or insights we have to share.
Reflexology, for me, is one of the most valuable tools we can have to help ourselves, our families, and our clients and I’m truly grateful to Jay Bixby, wherever he is, for my first pressure point natural healing experience. It really helped to shape my life. I do love sharing, teaching and passing on information and I love sharing my past and experience with others.