Reflexology

Has the “Mystery” of Reflexology Been Solved?

 

In my reflexology training, we learned a few things that we know for sure about how reflexology works. It is relaxing; in fact, it’s one of the very best ways to engage the part of the nervous system that is responsible for calming things down (the parasympathetic nervous system—the opposite of “fight or flight,” also known as “rest and repair” mode). 

We know that reflexology stimulates the circulatory system, responsible for bringing fresh oxygen and nutrients to all the parts of the body. We know that reflexology also stimulates the lymphatic system, responsible for carrying away all the wastes that the cells are ready to dispose of.

But we also know that there’s more to it than that. Some people refer to a “life energy,” like Qi in acupuncture or prana in Ayurvedic tradition—a somewhat mysterious force that we believe exists (sort of like to the biochemical and electromagnetic energy in our bodies), but that we haven’t quite been able to explain in concrete terms.

This inability to explain makes some people uncomfortable, skeptical. If you can’t demonstrate empirical evidence if you can’t explain something with science, how can it be valid?

Some of us are OK with not knowing exactly “how” reflexology works—the “evidence” is in the positive outcomes enjoyed by millions of people over thousands of years.

But, for those who are unable to embrace the mystery, there’s good news on the horizon. We may be able to explain HOW reflexology works, with science. 

We have been making great strides in studying connective tissue, specifically, a tissue called fascia. You may have heard of fascia only in the context of someone having pain in their feet—the bottom of the foot is the “plantar” surface, “itis” is the suffix for inflammation, so “plantar fasciitis” is inflammation in the fascia in the bottom of the foot.

If you eat meat, specifically if you’ve ever cut up pieces of chicken, you might be able to envision the thin, whitish, almost sticky membrane around some of the meat. This is fascia! It is all around and in between layers of our muscles, organs, etc.

When medical scientists first started dissecting human cadavers, they used to cut this tissue and move it out of the way to get to the “important” stuff beneath it. We figured out it was a matrix that helps give muscles their shape and generally holds us together, but we had no idea how critical this connective tissue really is. 

Once we finally started studying the fascia itself, we realized that it is an important network of dynamic tissue in its own right. We learned that it can have it’s own adhesions, for example—and so sometimes when people think they have “knots” or aches in their muscles, the root cause of the issue could actually be the fascia. We learned that fascia has “planes” that can affect mobility and balance and posture and more.

Then experts wondered, could fascia also help signals travel faster from one part of the body to the others? Think of the reflex arc that orchestrates multiple movements instantaneously. If you step on a tack, for example, or touch a hot stove—you step back, you lift one hand and lower the other for balance, without even thinking about it.

Scientists were pretty sure that fascia facilitates that. But we weren’t really sure how, until recently. And now, what we’re learning about fascia that explains how it expedites the reflex arc described above, might also explain how reflex points in our hands and feet communicate to all the other parts of the body. 

With modern technology, we’ve been able to study living tissue and not just cadavers. We’re learning things we missed before because we couldn’t see it in dead tissue!

Remember that diagram of a cell that we all learned about when we were kids—the one that sort of looks like a fried egg: kinda flat with a slightly irregular membrane and a yolk-like nucleus in the middle? When I was in massage school, we learned that each cell has to “decide” what substances will stay in the cell and what will pass through the membrane, and we didn’t even clearly understand how things travelled through (except in the case of electrolytes, where positively- and negatively-charged molecules dance back and forth across the membrane to offset each other—hey, that’s energy!). 

One of the presenters at the conference of the Reflexology Association of America I just attended in Chicago showed a graphic of a different model of a cell—a 3-D version that is much more lifelike. 

It’s been discovered that each and every cell in our bodies has a cytoskeleton, a structure of microtubules and various filaments that spread out through the cytoplasm. We know now that everything in our body is interconnected—from each cell’s nucleus through the membrane to the connective tissue between cells. It’s very easy for cells to communicate! They can pass information—and energy—to each other through these fluid-filled microtubules and filaments. It’s a highly ordered structure, literally from head to toe. And from the innermost parts of us to the outermost—the skin.

So, by touching a reflex point on the foot or hand, we can connect with any cell in any part of our body. Information—as evidenced by our self-preserving reflex arc—can be spread very efficiently. 

And because the energy in our body vibrates (as all energy in the universe vibrates), as we use alternating pressure in our reflexology technique—using the right pressure at the right pace will produce the right frequency to encourage repair and optimal functioning in our cells/tissues.

Mystery solved?

Category : Blog &Reflexology

Maintaining a Healthy Brain


Exciting new research in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease suggests that even if a person is predisposed genetically to these conditions, it may be possible to prevent or at least delay the damaging changes from happening to our brains.

The key is prevention—working to change the progress of disease before symptoms even occur. Similar to heart disease and diabetes, we’re learning that lifestyle choices can delay the onset and minimize risk and severity.

There are only a few Alzheimer’s prevention clinics in the US currently since “prevention” is a new idea. They use technology, problem-solving tests, and blood work to assess the ABCs of Alzheimer’s prevention. A is “anthropometrics”—things like body fat, lean body mass, muscle strength, waist measurement and more. B is blood biomarkers—all the standard blood work plus tests for inflammatory and genetic markers that increase risk. C is cognition, measuring thinking skills and mental flexibility.

Some risk factors are beyond our control: genetic predisposition, gender (women are at a higher risk), age; but the exciting learning has been in just how much our lifestyle choices can affect our outcome. Modifiable risk factors include what we eat, how much we eat (abdominal fat raises our risk threefold!), how we sleep, our blood pressure, our overall fitness level.

Here are the things the Weill Cornell’s Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic recommends we start doing right now to lower our risk:

  • Get our baseline numbers for things like cholesterol, triglycerides, blood glucose, blood pressure, body-mass index and waist circumference.
  • Take a cognitive test. There’s a 15-minute “SAGE” test we can do at home; for a link, go to alzu.org.
  • Keep our muscle mass. We lose muscle over the years if we don’t work to keep it. Most experts recommend a combination of aerobic and resistance/weight training for best results.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight, especially carrying extra abdominal fat, increases our risk for Alzheimer’s and other medical conditions.
  • Eat “green, lean and clean.” Brains benefit from a plant-heavy diet (veggies, beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds) with lean protein (especially fish). Extra-virgin olive oil is their recommended go-to dietary oil.
  • Eat fatty fish twice a week: salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, lake trout or sardines.
  • Cut out evening snacking. At least a few times a week, try not to eat for 12-14 hours between dinner and breakfast. At least cut out carbs to encourage the body to burn stored fats.
  • Get some good quality shut-eye. Plan for at least 8 hours of sleep per night; turn off all devices for 30 to 45 minutes before bedtime.
  • Put some downtime on our to-do list. Every 4 1/2 years of work stress equates to a year of brain aging! Things like yoga, acupuncture, and regular vacations help. (I would add massage the reflexology, among other things!)
  • Find joy and connection with others. Hobbies and friendships can both relax and challenge our brains.
  • Play music. There’s a lot of new research pointing out the benefit of music to brain health. Listening to music is good, but making music is even better. Learning ukulele is achievable for most people, and more towns (St. Augustine among them!) have regular jam sessions for ukulele enthusiasts, which adds a social element as well.
  • Keep up with dental, vision and hearing health. Untreated tooth and gum problems cause inflammation that can lead to other complications. Vision and hearing loss can result in social isolation.
  • Don’t smoke. 
  • Consider genetic testing, if you believe that knowledge is power. There is no test that says definitively whether we will get Alzheimer’s, but if we find out that we are at risk genetically, it might motivate us to try that much harder to stave it off with lifestyle changes.
  • Join a clinical trial. If we want to take part in studies that might lead to a cure, we can search for studies at clinicaltrials.gov. In June, the Alzheimer’s Association is funding the largest ever lifestyle study on preventing cognitive decline. Learn more at alz.org/us-pointer.

Source: “Cheater’s Guide to Beating Alzheimer’s” by Paula Spencer Scott, “Parade Magazine,” April 8, 2018

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Reflexology

What Are Our Feet Trying to Tell Us?

 

 

Sometimes when I work on people’s feet, they’ll ask me “what does that mean?” if a particular area feels tender or extra sensitive.

All I can say is that it’s a sign of stress: either stress to that area of the foot itself or stress to the part of the body that the reflex point in the foot is related to. (Either way, it’s good to work on it!) Sometimes the client can kind of figure out what might be going on in their feet and/or in their body’s overall health.

I’m not able to diagnose. But I am continually astounded at how interconnected and fascinating we are anatomically—from our feet all the way up to our brains!

Along those lines (pun intended!) an article recently caught my attention, outlining several bodily conditions that might show symptoms specifically in the feet.

Spasms (or “foot cramps”). Muscle cramps can be a sign that there’s a deficiency in your body. Sometimes spasms are caused by dehydration when your cells aren’t getting enough water/oxygen. It could also indicate an imbalance of electrolytes or nutrients (calcium or potassium, for example). Cramps can be caused by overexertion and lack of stretching, poor footwear choices, or even circulatory problems.

Enlarged big toe. Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis and can cause the big toe to become red, warm, swollen and painful. Gout occurs when too much uric acid builds up in the bloodstream. This inflammation often occurs in the big toe and can flare up overnight. Risk factors include genetics, a diet high in purines (meats and seafood, for example), alcohol consumption, being overweight, certain medications (such as diuretics), recent trauma, and some other health conditions including high blood pressure, diabetes, and hypothyroidism.

Cold feet. A person who has perpetually cold feet might have poor circulation, diabetes, an under-active thyroid, or anemia. In a more severe case, when cold feet change color from red to white to blue, it could be a sign of Raynaud’s disease—when nerves overact to cold and cause a narrowing of the blood vessels in the feet (or hands).

Swollen feet. Swelling can be a sign of various health problems, some potentially serious. Poor circulation/heart problems, kidney or liver disease, deep vein thrombosis (blood clots), lymphatic concerns and cellulitis can cause swollen feet. It’s a good idea to seek a medical evaluation and not dismiss swelling if it’s severe or if it happens often.

Spoon-shaped toenails. Nails that are soft and sort of scooped out with a depression usually are a sign of a nutritional deficiency—too little or too much iron. It can also be associated with heart disease and hypothyroidism.

Yellow toenails. Nails turn yellow from conditions like infection and fungus, rheumatoid arthritis, jaundice/liver problems, lung issues/breathing problems and even sinusitis. If you have a sudden change in the color or texture of your nails, seek medical attention.

Tingling or numbness. Circulatory problems, peripheral nerve damage, an impinged nerve, multiple sclerosis and a range of other ailments can lead to numbness, tingling or “pins and needles” in the feet. Like swelling, this symptom is not something to take lightly if it persists.

Achy joints. Pain in the toe joints is usually a sign of local injury or trauma or a malformation in the bones of the foot like a bunion or hammertoe. But it can also be a sign of something systemic like osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.

Drop foot. If someone has difficulty lifting the front part of their foot, they could have a condition called drop foot—which is indicative of an underlying muscular, neurological or anatomical problem. Nerve or muscle weakness/damage in the leg, hip or spine can cause the foot to drag when walking. A combination of therapies is used to try to correct the problem including a brace, nerve stimulation, chiropractic adjustments, physical therapy or surgery.

Lingering sores. If you have sores that don’t heal, or you have an injury you didn’t feel or treat that led to a more severe wound, you might have nerve damage to the feet caused by diabetes. Nerve damage, or neuropathy, results in being unable to feel injuries, and when they go unnoticed, even little boo-boos like blisters can lead to bigger issues like ulcers and gangrene. Dry, cracked, peeling skin, calluses and poor circulation in the feet can all be signs of diabetes.

Our feet can tell us a lot about our health! We owe it to ourselves to keep our feet and our whole system as healthy as possible. Regular foot reflexology sessions can help!

Source: https://ia.meaww.com/read/health/10-things-your-feet-are-trying-to-tell-you-about-your-health

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Reflexology

R-E-L-A-X

 

Recently I was asked to give a brief talk on how to relax to a civic group that is feeling very stressed about current events and political developments. I figured the last thing anybody needs is pressure to add lengthy, complicated tasks to their to-do lists! So I came up with 30+ things that we can do in minutes from almost anywhere.

I’ll share half this week, and half next week. Some are geared toward breaking tension in a moment of anger or frustration. Others deal with more long-term, chronic feelings of being generally “stressed out.” Enjoy, let me know if you have any questions, or if you have another strategy that works well for you!

Breathe. This is the simplest and most effective thing we can do. Take a deep breath in, hold for a second, let a longer breath out. Exhaling engages the part of the nervous systems that calms and slows things down.

Step outside. Fresh air, sun, natural beauty—a change in perspective. Get out of your head! If you can’t get outdoors, look out a window—one with a nice view.

Go for a walk. If you can take a quick walk outside, even better. Or walk around indoors—get blood and lymph flowing, and change your focus for a moment.

If you feel especially aggravated, run in place for a minute. Or do some jumping jacks. Or jump rope!

Stretch. Reach up, breathe deep. Make gentle circles with your neck, shoulders, arms, hips—whatever you can comfortably manage.

Don’t make pain.

Do a few yoga poses if you know them. If you don’t know any, try this one: lie with your butt close to a wall, and put your legs straight up the wall. Rest your heels on the wall, and let it support the weight of your legs. Just lie there and breathe for as long as you like. It’s amazing how good this feels!

Try progressive relaxation. Start at one end of your body and purposely squeeze muscles in one body part at a time; then very deliberately release all that tension. Move on to the next part and slowly contract and release everywhere until you’re more completely relaxed all over.

Give yourself reflexology/massage your hand. Press around in the fleshy part between your thumb and index finger. “Thumb walk” down toward the base of the thumb. When you find a point that’s tender or sensitive, hold comfortable pressure and take a few deep breaths. And/or pull on and massage your outer ears.

Chew gum. It’s centering and can be calming for the brain.

Splash some water on your face. Rinsing your face is calming to the vagus nerve, a cranial nerve that is involved in calming internal operating systems down.

Enjoy some aromatherapy. Lavender, chamomile, and fruity/citrus (orange, lemongrass, bergamot, neroli) are good essential oils to use, or something warming and earthy like frankincense. Use what YOU like! Put a drop on a tissue and smell it; don’t put it directly on your skin.

Sniff some favorite flowers or herbs or citrus fruit if you don’t have essential oils handy. Peel an orange or a tangerine and enjoy the freshness!

Sip something soothing. Green tea is said to contain L-Theanine, a chemical that helps relieve anger. But it can also contain caffeine, and that is not so relaxing. An herbal tea might be better. Or warm milk. Hot cocoa might be ok, but we don’t want to overdo sugar—it can make us more irritable!

Take a warm bath. Add bubbles or Epsom salts if you like.

Meditate. Take 5 minutes to sit or lie down quietly and focus on your breath. Free apps offer short guided meditations that are easy to follow.

More ideas next week. Be well!!

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Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth &Reflexology

Supporting a Healthy Back

 

 

Back pain is common, and while a certain amount of wear and tear is part of life, some mindful maintenance can go a long way in staving off strains and aches.

Everything we do every single day impacts our back health. It basically comes down to posture and body mechanics. It’s so easy to neglect! Here are some helpful reminders:

Sitting. Sitting in the same position for long periods stresses tissues and can diminish blood flow. It’s very important to get up and move around every 30-60 minutes. Set a timer on your phone if you must! When sitting at a desk, make sure both feet are on the floor and your weight is evenly distributed between your hips.

Standing. Think about your alignment: ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles should be pretty well lined up and facing forward in a centered, neutral way. Do you put more weight on one side? Do you hold your head forward? Not good. Do you hold your shoulders too high toward your ears? Set an alarm to check yourself a few times a day. Take a deep breath, and deliberately drop your shoulders down and back as you exhale.

Lifting/Carrying. I set myself up for hip trouble by always carrying books, babies, etc. on one hip jutted out supporting all the weight. As much as possible, it’s far better to divide a load (groceries, laundry) into two totes and carry equal amounts on both sides. For things that can’t be divided (babies!), a backpack is best. When lifting, we need to bend at the knees, avoid twisting, and engage our abs to make sure our backs aren’t doing more than their fair share.

Phoning. Tilting our heads forward to see our phone screens places way more pressure on our necks than you might think. It’s far better to raise our arms and hold the phone up closer to eye level. Use voice commands to send texts when possible, and earphones for long conversations. If you’re reading a tablet or a good, old-fashioned book, see if you can prop it up on pillows to avoid looking down for prolonged periods.

What to do when your back does hurt? OF COURSE, I would recommend massage therapy and reflexology to relax tight tissues and improve blood and lymph flow! You can also try:

You can also try:

Ice, to reduce inflammation.

Heat, to relax muscle fibers.

Alternating between heat and ice (up to 20 minutes of one, enough time to let your tissues to get back to normal temperature, then up to 20 minutes of the other; always end with ice at the end of the day).

Gentle exercise. For an acute injury, a day of rest probably is advised. But then it’s important not to rest too much! Walking a little bit if you can comfortably do so keeps blood and lymph flowing, which is important for healing.

Ongoing supportive exercise, such as yoga or Tai Chi enhances balance, flexibility and good posture long term.

Other “alternative” approaches such as acupuncture and chiropractic can help maintain optimal functioning. Physical therapy can target problem areas, and PTs usually give specific exercises to develop strength so strains don’t reoccur.

Cope with stress. Chronic stress causes tension that causes pain. It’s important to do mindfulness “exercises” like deep breathing, meditation, walking outside in nature, and positive self-talk.

Mindfulness is always a good practice. Most injuries are from misuse or overuse. If we stay aware of how we sit, stand, walk, lift, etc., we can avoid a lot of problems. An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure!!

Source: “We’ve Got Your Back,” by Alyssa Shaffer, “Better Homes & Gardens” October 2017.

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Reflexology

Learning a New Way to Support Health

 

I had the privilege of taking a continuing education course last weekend on “The Hidden Messengers”—silent, behind-the-scene centers of energy that work together to keep our bodies balanced and functioning optimally.

In our western understanding of anatomy, we talk about our endocrine system—those glands (think pituitary, thyroid, adrenal, etc.) that produce hormones to regulate our sleep, appetite, stress responses, sex drive and more.

In ancient Indian practice, energy centers called “chakras” closely parallel the endocrine glands. Each chakra is aligned with a nerve plexus (a bundle or network of nerves) that is responsible for a specific area of the body. So while some in our culture might think chakras are too “woo woo” to be seriously considered, there’s actually a lot of overlap with western scientific models of medicine.

Our class also covered a principal of traditional Chinese medicine: that each of us is most strongly governed by one of the five elements of nature (water, earth, fire, wood or metal), and that these elements influence our health including, you guessed it—the health of our endocrine glands.

When any of these systems—endocrine, chakra or elements—is out of balance, our health can suffer. It can change our behavior and attitude as well. And/or, our behavior and attitude can change the balance of these systems!

Whichever way you prefer to think about it, reflexology is a very effective way to restore homeostasis—or balance of our internal environment—and improve the healthy function of all of these systems. As we make contact with each reflex point in the foot or hand, we activate the nervous system and communicate to all the parts of the body. Everything benefits, whether it’s hormonally, energetically, mentally or all of the above!

Category : Blog &Massage Therapy &Reflexology

Healthy at Any Age

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I wish I had a dollar for every time someone told me about an ailment they’re experiencing and concluded that “it must just be because I’m getting old(er).”

While it’s true that there is a degeneration that happens as we age, and we can’t get away from that entirely (our parts weren’t meant to last forever, sadly), there IS much we can do to improve our health, functioning, and mobility. Getting older doesn’t have to equate to living in pain or lacking in vitality.

In a recent issue of “Spry Living,” author Marygrace Taylor shared strategies for staying young literally from head to toe. Here’s a summary of her tips:

For your brain: listen to music! Music stimulates the parts of the brain responsible for processing not only sound, but movement (like dancing!), emotion, memory, rewards and patterns. Neurologists suggest that we challenge ourselves to listen to new, unfamiliar music in addition to our favorites. This requires “a greater degree of cognitive effort to process, and may lead to the formation of new connections within the brain.” Sounds good to me!

For your eyes: eat up your veggies! Carrots aren’t the only vegetable that are good for your eyes. Leafy greens like spinach and kale deliver important antioxidants that help protect our sight by supporting the retina’s ability to defend against stressors like sunlight and smoke.

For your face: get some beauty sleep! No kidding, sleep is critical for helping skin stay supple and fresh. In one study, women who slept better had fewer fine lines, better pigmentation, and more elasticity in their skin. They also healed faster from damaging conditions like sunburns and dehydration.

For your heart: hug it out! Managing stress turns out to be just as important as eating right and exercising when it comes to heart health. Hugs trigger the release of pleasure hormones while reducing levels of stress hormones. One study even concluded that women who received more hugs from their partners had lower blood pressure and resting heart rates!

For your muscles and bones: keep moving! Exercise is the single most important thing we can do to prevent loss of bone density and lean muscle. You don’t have to be a marathon runner or a gym rat. Dr. Vonda Wright, who authored “Fitness After 40” recommends walking up to 2 miles, 3-5 times per week on a local high school track, and then adding some step-climbing on the bleachers. Or, if you have knee issues, work out in a pool, walking forward, backward, and lunging side to side in chest-high water for 40 minutes.

For your feet: relax with a nice soak! Older feet have experienced a lifetime of pounding. When we hurt, we can alter the way we walk, which can lead to more problems and more pain. Regular soaking in a gallon of warm water with a 1/4 cup of Epsom salts for 15 minutes can ease stiffness and soreness. Adding a couple of drops of lavender essential oil smells good (eliminating foot odor!), helps us relax, and even helps prevent fungal infections around the toenails.

I would, of course, add that foot reflexology is a GREAT way to keep your feet—and your whole person—in tip-top shape!

If you feel age is a limiting factor, maybe this will provide inspiration: click here

Article source material: “Your Total Body Anti-Aging Plan,” by Marygrace Taylor, “SpryLiving” March 2017, parade.com

Category : Blog &Massage Therapy &Personal Growth &Reflexology

Energy Behind the Wall

electricity

 

People ask me, how does reflexology work?

There really are two components to this wonderful healing art. The first is that reflexologists (at least the ones that train through the Academy of Ancient Reflexology as I did) use rhythmic, alternating pressure, with care given to how we “flow” from one area of the foot or hand to the next. The client gets to decide what amount of pressure is comfortable for them. It doesn’t have to hurt to be effective. In fact, we believe that pain is not healing. It’s much better to allow soothing touch to lull the nervous system into a deeply relaxed state—that’s where healing can really happen.

When we’re in that relaxed state, our bodies leave “fight or flight” mode, and enter into “rest and repair” mode. When we’re stressed, our bodies naturally divert energy to mechanisms that get us ready to fight or flee: our heart rate and breathing increase, our pupils dilate, our hair stands on end, our skeletal muscles get the lion’s share of blood so they have oxygen and energy to MOVE!

Because of this, internal systems are a little bit deprived of blood supply, and things slow down or even shut down. Digestion and fighting infection, for example, can wait until the “threat” has passed. That’s why people who are always stressed out tend to have gut issues and can get sick all the time. They live in habitual fight or flight mode.

As reflexology helps us shift into rest and repair mode, our breathing slows. Blood and lymph circulation improve, digestion is supported and better able to deliver nutrients—all the “internal operating” systems can work at their optimal level because nerves are calm and blood is no longer being diverted to the extremities.

Still, over time practitioners have been able to identify specific reflex points in the hands and feet that correspond to all our organs and glands and parts of the body. We’ve never identified direct nerves from the reflex points to the corresponding body parts. Its more likely that information is relayed to the brain, and then from the brain to the body part.

Is this directly and only through the nervous system? We don’t think so. The second component of how reflexology works is through “subtle energy.” Until recently, this has been largely a mystery to explain. In the eastern philosophies, people are more likely to accept that something works because of the results experienced. But here in the analytical west, we like empirical evidence. Well, experts now are beginning to think, in western terms, that a connective tissue called fascia is involved in assisting the nervous system with the communication between tissues.

Acupuncturists learn about meridians that run through the body, connecting disparate body parts like a conduit for energy. This may seem kind of odd, but it’s possible that the meridians are actually embedded in the fascia, which does have “planes” that run three-dimensionally through the body in measurable and predictable ways.
Think about the electric wiring in our homes. It’s behind the walls. We can’t see it, but we know it’s there. If we want to turn on an overhead light, we don’t actually have to touch the light fixture itself. We can flip on a wall switch some distance away from the bulb, and “magically,” in a way that’s not visible to us, the information travels to the light and turns it on. This is kind of how acupuncture points—and reflex areas—work.

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Reflexology

Celebrating Love

skeletal love

 

Americans have turned Valentine’s Day into a multi-billion dollar consumer holiday, demonstrating love with greeting cards, chocolates, flowers, dinner dates, and jewelry.

And while there’s nothing wrong with taking a moment to celebrate couples and romantic love, there’s a lot more to love than that!

In an exercise in my reflexology certification program, we were challenged to think about our core values—what really drives us to do what we do? Because if we want to market our skills successfully, we have to make sure that our message is genuinely in line with our beliefs.

What I learned about myself is that love really is at the core of everything I do. Loving myself fuels me to do my best every day. Loving the community I live in (and the planet I live on) motivates me to do what I can to make the world a better place. Love inspires me to give caring attention to my clients and help them love themselves and their own healing process. I believe that love is what connects us at a deeply subconscious, spiritual level. Love is at the center of empathy, compassion, strength (what is worth fighting for, after all? Something or someone you care deeply about—something or someone you love). Love is at the core of any passion!

Whenever I am in a challenging situation or dealing with a difficult person, I try to remember this mantra: Pour some love on it. Honestly, even when people are being ugly, they need love. They probably need love most of all.

If “love” is too intimate a word for you, try “kindness.” In 2017’s first issue of Parade magazine, writer Paula Spencer Scott challenged us to make kindness a resolution. Clearly, with everything going on in our world these days, we need more of it. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has launched a kindness challenge. One suggestion is to write a thank-you note to a different person each week of the year—52 opportunities to show gratitude and boost happiness! Another suggestion is to make it a point to do something—one simple, kind thing—every day. There’s a book by Orly Wahba called Kindness Boomerang: How to Save the World (and Yourself) Through 365 Daily Acts with specific ideas that make it easy. (Wahba has a TED talk called “Kindness Boomerang” as well.)

Psychologist Harriet Lerner states that the more we see a lack of kindness in public, the more it trickles down into our own personal lives. “But kindness is not an ‘extra,”” she states. “It’s at the heart of intimacy, connection, self-respect and respect for others.”

The good news is that any of us can turn it around. Author Leon Logothetis knows from experience, traveling the globe as an experiment just to see how far he could get relying on the kindness of strangers. He says, “On the surface, we’re in a kindness deficit, but underneath there’s a vast stream of it—if you just scratch the surface.”

Kelsey Gryniewicz of the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation agrees: “That’s the power of kindness—it just takes one person, one act. You don’t need money or a ton of time.”

And showing love (being kind) brings us multiple benefits.

1. It feels good. Literally, it lights up our brain’s reward center. And, there’s a real phenomenon called “social contagion.” So when you do your one small act of random kindness, it gives you a lift, it gives the person you are kind to a lift, and it also lifts up everyone who witnesses the act! Then everyone is inspired to “kind it forward.”

2. It improves our physical health. The article in Parade states that “When patients receive kind treatment from medical staff—better communication, an effort to get to know them as people—they have less anxiety and pain and shorter hospital stays… Doctors and nurses, in turn, feel more engaged and less exhausted.”

I would argue that any time we can use better communication and make an effort to get to know someone as a person—even if we are in a debate with someone who holds a view contrary to our own—we’re both going to have less anxiety, feel more engaged and less exhausted.

3. Kindness improves neighborhoods. This is my favorite example, again from Parade: A candidate running for mayor of Anaheim, CA in 2010 was inspired by signs made featuring a simple message: “Make Kindness Contagious.” (These were signs celebrating the life philosophy of a 6-year-old who’d been killed in an accident.) The young girl’s father was a doctor, and he told the candidate that “in medicine, you can treat the symptom or you can stimulate the body to heal itself.” The candidate wondered if the same principle could be applied to a city. “What if a culture of kindness could stimulate the city to heal from within?” he pondered. He has since started programs to help neighbors get to know each other. They form neighborhood watches to minimize crime, and they are more likely to rush to each others’ aid in an emergency or disaster. He encourages volunteerism and participation in the One Billion Acts of Kindness campaign. He even helped bring the Dalai Lama to give the keynote address on kindness to the U.S. Conference of Mayors. These are all good ways to foster connection and help make up the “kindness deficit”!o

There’s more in the article, related to nurturing emotional intelligence in kids and using kindness to combat bullying, acknowledging that millennials lead the way in seeking social workplaces and recognizing empathy as part of a sought-after skill set, and establishing that kindness is key to breaking down barriers socially and building a more connected world.

The call to action is making kindness a verb—to do kind things and live kindness. “It’s easy, it’s free, it feels good—and it really makes a difference,” writes the author.

So this Valentine’s Day, let’s pour some love on everyone we meet. Sure, you can shower your sweetie with gifts if you have one. But everyone needs loving kindness. Pass it on!

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Reflexology

Good Ways to Strengthen Your Immune System

pole walking

We’re still in the midst of cold and flu season, and some people struggle with all the fluctuations in weather we’ve been having, or simply from being in closed spaces with less fresh air for long periods of time.

According to WebMD and what I know from my own training in massage and reflexology, here are some tips for boosting your immune system naturally to stay healthy and avoid getting sick:

Spend time with friends. New studies show that strong human connections are one of the most important factors in overall health. WebMD states, “People with healthy relationships are likely to outlive those with poor social ties.” Reach out to the friends you already have, and/or meet new like-minded people by volunteering, taking a class, or joining a club that interests you. (There are many, many groups listed on MeetUp.com if you need help finding one.

Do your best to stay positive. From WebMD: “When you think good thoughts, your body’s defenses work better… Savor the things you enjoy. Look for a silver lining — even in tough times — and try not to dwell on the bad stuff.”

Laugh! Truly, a good belly laugh gives our immune system a boost. Watch a funny movie or even a short video. Or visit a website with good jokes.

Adopt a dog. Being around any pet you love can be soothing (even staring into a fish tank can actually lower your blood pressure!), But dogs come with the added benefit of encouraging us to exercise more. Walking pumps our lymphatic system via the abundance of lymph vessels in our feet—so taking your furry buddy for a stroll is good for hearth health, mental health, and immune system health!! If you can’t commit to owning a pet, you could consider volunteering at a shelter.

Relax. Too much stress weakens out immune system. Make sure you have leisure time to do things you enjoy, and true down time to just rest or sleep.

Eat fresh produce. Fruits and veggies are full of vitamin C and antioxidants that guard against free radicals that damage cells. Go for the full spectrum of the rainbow, because each color provides a different abundance of nutrients.

Check with your doctor or nutritionist about supplements. Some foods and supplements can very specifically support our immune system, but some supplements also can interfere with medications you may be taking, and some can even be harmful when taken in excess. Best to talk with a professional before self “prescribing.”

Exercise! We already mentioned how good walking is. A half hour of exercise daily is a great way to reduce stress, boost the immune system, and promote overall health. It doesn’t have to be vigorous. See if you can find something you love, and feel free to mix it up: walking, swimming, cycling, yoga, tennis, dancing, golf etc. Just move!

Sleep! Good quality sleep is every big as important as exercise. (And regular activity can actually improve sleep!) Without sleep, your immune system won’t have sufficient strength to fight illness. To get the best night’s sleep, try to give yourself time to unwind in the evening, have a consistent bedtime schedule, stay active during the day, skip caffeine late in the day and alcohol near bedtime, and keep your bedroom cool.

Drink in moderation. Many of us socialize and celebrate with a bit of booze. While there is nothing wrong with a little alcohol (and perhaps even some benefit!), too much of it can weaken our immune system and cause us to get sick more often. The recommended limit is no more than two drinks a day for men and one for women.

Have sex! Believe it or not, people who enjoy a healthy sex life get sick less often.

Quit smoking. Do your immune system a favor and stay away even from second-hand smoke.

Wash your hands. You don’t have to use an anti-bacterial soap, but a good scrub of at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water will wash away germs so your body doesn’t have to fight them off.

Enjoy a reflexology or massage therapy session. Both can gently push fluids along their lymph vessel path, flushing out metabolic waste and boosting the immune system. And, of course, both can help us relax and recover from stress.

Do dry brushing at home. Using a soft, natural bristle brush to stimulate the lymph vessels just under the skin can do wonders for your immune system. Some people like to do this every day before they shower as part of their routine hygiene discipline. There is a specific technique to use; contact me if you’d like a video about it.

Sweat! Find a spa that offers infrared sauna sessions. The heat penetrates more deeply, and you can sweat out a lot of toxins for a real immune boost! Always shower after to wash away the “dirty” perspiration and walk away feeling super refreshed. (Always check with your doctor first to make sure there’s no medical reason to avoid raising your body temperature this way.)

Hydrate! Different experts recommend different amounts of water to drink each day, from simply choosing water every time you naturally feel thirsty, to shooting for a specific target up to half the number of ounces as your body weight in pounds (so 80 ounces per day if you weigh 160 pounds, for example). Whichever recommendation seems right to you, there’s no question that we are comprised of mostly water, and our bodies need hydration as much as they need food and rest to stay healthy.

girl jumping on the beach

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Reflexology