18 August 2011

Pregnancy and Reflexology

I feel so lucky! My client Natalie is pregnant and has decided to use Reflexology as one of her holistic support sytems throughout her pregnancy. Natalie's lifestyle is already a healthy one. In fact, she LOVES greens. She eats greens for breakfast - no problem! So it is no surprise that she looks radiant and feels very well. At week 21 - the weight of the baby is causing some stress on the back and belly - but overall, there have been no major discomforts.

The baby is due in December and this summer is Natalie's time to embrace her pregnancy. My zero gravity chair is perfect for her. It is made to allow the client to feel weightless when it's tilted to the back at an angle range. The body will be close to a lying-down position with the person's legs above the heart level. In this position, one is said to be experiencing "zero gravity" because most of the weight is taken off the back. In short, one feels light and weightless. As Natalie stretches out on the chair, her whole body eases into a visibly more peaceful and relaxed state. This allows Natalie to be receptive to the reflexology treatment which in turn helps to keep her body and hormones balanced as well as support and strengthen her uterus and immune system. Not to mention that research has shown that women who have regular reflexology treatments during pregnancy have far shorter labours than those who don't.

But here is the magic!! Sometimes while working on Natalie's feet, I have felt a third presence - something or someone very wise, angelic and curious appears. The first time I felt this happen, I was so moved that it brought tears to my eyes. Was it indeed her little daughter enjoying the reflexology session as well?

12 August 2011

How Reflexology helps a dancer named Oscar

How is it that people change? Isn't it true that it is one of human nature's most difficult tricks? Well, I have seen it countless times as I work on my client's feet. As the feet become open and supple, so it seems to reflect what is going on in the person. Like the peeling of an onion, layer upon layer of tension, contraction and pain start to shed. This is about such a shift in Oscar.

Oscar has been a client of mine for some time. He is an excellent Tango dancer and gifted teacher. Every day his feet take a lot of pressure. I have read that on average we normally spend 4 hours a day on our feet and take between 8,000 and 10,000 steps. Compared to the rest of our body, our feet are very small and every step puts about 50% more than our body weight on them. Therefore, in an average day, our feet support a combined force equal to several hundred tons. Holy cow! In Oscar's case imagine that force multiplied several times over as he leads his students in the complexities of tango's ochos, crusadas, boleos and caminitas. So it is no surprise Oscar has experienced an aching back. Luckily, back pain, caused by a physical imbalance like an injury or psychological imbalance like stress or anxiety, can be treated using reflexology. So I have worked on Oscar therapeutically, much like an Acupuncturist would. By stimulating points within the reflex maps I encourage his body to find a balance for itself. The entire body gets attention, while only the feet are being worked on.

Oscar usually relaxes deeply - sometimes he sleeps - in my zero gravity reflexology recliner. The chair's best kept secret is that is allows Oscar to obtain good posture even when he's relaxing. By maintaining good posture in the chair, his spine benefits and relieves pressure on his back and body. When Oscar finishes his hour - his first impression upon standing is how tall he has gotten! And in fact his posture has improved as the spine and back have released their contractions.

Over time, I have witnessed Oscar's new found dedication to self-care. This has manifested in his paying attention to diet and sleep habits, to taking time for himself to heal potential injuries and to allowing the body to be where it is - without anger or disappointment. As he has become more caring and attentive to his needs, he has also become more nurturing in his relationships. Looking at Oscar, I see a person who radiates a zest for life and a posture of pride and intention. And my hunch is - his dancing has improved as well.

08 February 2011

Our lives have only one name

When my dear friend and client Aro called for a last minute Reflxology appointment, I could tell that something was going on. Turns out she was on her way to get an MRI to find out whether or not she had cancer. Although told there was only a slim (2%) chance that this was so in her case, the MRI did indeed reveal DCIS or duct cancer in situ. As Aro explained it, "from that moment on, everything just went so fast", and from one day to the next she was scheduled for surgery.

DCIS is sometimes classified as Stage 0 of breast cancer, the earliest stage of the disease. The question for women with this diagnosis is not “Will I live?” but “How much treatment will I need?” DCIS is one cancer that can truly be considered curable. However, until the 1980s DCIS was routinely treated in the same way as most invasive cancers — with mastectomy. Now breast-conserving surgery or lumpectomy is often recommended when DCIS is limited to one site and the tumor can be removed with a clear margin. Then radiation therapy is recommended because it reduces the chance of recurrence after surgery. Additionally, a medication called tamoxifen may further reduce the recurrence rate. All this was to be Aro's path for the next few months.

During this period, I worked on Aro's feet almost every week. But doing so was different than all the other times she had come for reflexology. At first all I could think to myself was, "how can I make this go away? " And of course I could not. But over time I saw that what I could do - or what we could do together - was to make our sessions as real as possible. Only by doing this did her feet and ultimately her body and mind relax. And later when she came to me during radiology sessions - I saw that when we could just allow the body to be where it was - sometimes tense or nervous, other times tired or emotional or simply quiet or peaceful - I was able to work even more deeply on the relevant reflex areas of Aro's feet. She always left the Salon feeling in her words, "wonderful".

Aro is now cancer free and "back to her former life" with one major difference - she has put on the breaks. Before the cancer she neglected everything - including herself - to attend to whoever or whatever wanted her attention in that moment. After the cancer - it has become more like this: if Aro is tired, she naps, if she is hungry, she prepares food for herself, if she is engaged in a quiet moment, she enhances that with meditation. She radiates a glow that I would say comes from being loved and cared for - first and foremost by her self - and too by her beloved family, boyfriend and friends.

From my perspective, I saw that our Reflexology sessions gave Aro a refuge; a sense of space to remain herself while being bombarded with decisions she had to make on her journey to wellness. I felt that the best gift I could give her was my presence. In any case the best knowledge that I could give her did not come from my brain but from my heart. But most striking was the gift Aro gave me - the reminder that our lives have only one name - and that name is gratitude.