The following article is from ARCB Winter 2016 Reflexology Today Journal
Why do so many people feel so sad or depressed today, more than in any other time? We accept the gifts of technology, these labor saving devices by adapting and adapting again. Each improvement provides a new level of abstraction to which we accommodate ourselves. But the questions are: Are we distancing ourselves from the primary things that give meaning and purpose to life? Can we succeed in satisfying our needs through technology?
People, especially children, teens and young adults, have forgotten how to spend time without iPhones, tablets, or the Internet. They don’t know how to communicate unaided by texting. Those who want to voice their feelings or record their thoughts don’t know how to do it without devices that aid them to avoid eye contact or physical interactions. They don’t even have to put into words their emotions emojis will do it for them.
Human contact is what’s missing from all these electronic devices. Computers and networks isolate us from one another. A network chat line is a limp substitute for meeting friends over coffee.
Shouldn’t progress bring us ease and convenience? Instead it dispenses aloneness. Loneliness may be the real disease of this century, as we live alone, work alone, and play alone, insulated by all of today’s electronic marvels.
The Importance of Touch
This is where our work as reflexologists begins. We touch people on many levels physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually through our hands. Feelings are part of the mindbody connection. In the body, feelings include the physical sensation of touch and incorporate the emotions. With the application of touch and pressure to the feet, messages are sent to the brain by way of the neural pathways and elicit a physical response. Other messages are also communicated to the client silently through our hands, tactile skills, our voice, our attitude towards life, our intentions, etc. Touch is curative when we touch someone with healing and love in mind. Through this multi-level reaction to touch, the client often has an opportunity to experience a sense of security, trust, and well-being from which new coping skills may develop. The client may learn new ways of approaching his or her world simply by being touched. Therefore, the quality of our touch is important.
John Naisbitt in his 1984 best-selling book, Megatrends, states, “Whenever new technology is introduced into society, there must be a counterbalancing human response-that is, high touch, or the technology is rejected.” High tech, he concludes, is responsible for the rise of the human potential and complementary health movements, because “we must learn to balance the material wonder of technology with the spiritual demands of our human nature.”
When we consider the anatomy of the foot and its sensitive periosteum, our trained, experienced hands can assess and evaluate; machines cannot. Reflexology is the application of specific pressures by the hands of the skilled practitioner to the reflexes in the feet and hands of the client that promotes stress reduction that, in turn, produces changes in the body. It is the nurturing of the human touch that our clients need. It is the importance of the human touch we must never lose sight of. It is the touch our clients want to experience. In addition, deep pressure is not needed as a lighter touch can be more effective than heavy pressure. Nobel Prize winner Dr. Edgar Adrian showed that the electrical intensity of the nerve impulse depended on the size of the nerve rather than upon the strength of the stimulus. However, light touch, in our case, does not refer to energetic work, for one needs to go deep enough to reach the reflexes to be effective.
According to Adam Blanning, M.D., healing involves transformation-elements of it come from our own activity. “Some healing elements may come from medicines, some from trusted friends, some from rest and nutrition. Other important elements can come from far-flung chance encounters, or conversations that bring unexpected but truthful understanding.” These elements are very important aspects of healing through human interaction and touch that takes place when we meet face to face. In medicine, the usual time spent with a patient is 8-15 minutes allotted per patient visit. If the time is rushed, the patient feels unseen, and there is little space to enter into the therapeutic process.
Time is another important aspect we have to share with our clients. In sharing our time, we share part of the essence of who we are. Our very presence contributes to their healing process. The therapeutic relationship is a two way street. It also adds meaning to our own lives.
We are profoundly blessed to work in such a way that slows life down for both of us while in a way it is an oxymoron because reflexology is dynamic and changes lives. It doesn’t matter whether you are the client or the practitioner, the student or the teacher! The lack of touch (on all levels) is partly the reason that society has become dissatisfied with traditional medicine. Let us not fall into the same trap. Reflexology, as a complementary health practice, provides both our clients and ourselves the opportunity to find holistic health through the compensating factor of human touch and attentive time. Reflexology is a gift of giving and a gift of healing touch.