Like many people in the early 70’s, trauma forced me into questioning what life meant to me. My particular trauma at age 27 was being left with two small children after the death of my first husband, David. This was during an expansion of consciousness rising time when events such as the Viet Nam War, the Kent State shooting of students rebelling against it, birth control and the sexual revolution leading to flower children and love-ins, kicked us into gear. Many people began testing the waters of what we could experience – drugs, sex and rock n’ roll. After David’s death, I broke out of my protective shell and went looking for my own answers because what I knew no longer made sense; I became a seeker. I knew I would remarry and I wanted to marry an educated man, someone who liked to travel, was domestic, and although I didn’t put it down as a requirement at the time, had a spiritual bent.
I met Bill. He was a meditator, also widowed, had a young child close to my two children’s age and, due to his trauma after the death of his first wife, he opened up to alternative approaches for dealing with stress. He had taken up meditation and introduced it to me. I was enthralled by meditation once I learned it and wanted to learn more so I signed up for a Yoga Teachers’ Training course at the Yoga Centre Toronto where the old school of yoga teaching was still around – honouring the ancient yoga philosophy and instructing according to this philosophy. Back in those days, there was no Hot Yoga, Power Yoga, or Yoga to Lose Weight. It was Hatha Yoga, Pranayamas, Meditation and Yoga philosophy that was taught.
PRESSURE POINT WORK AND MAGICAL RESULTS
One of my teachers, Jay Bixby was his name, came up to me after his class and said, “Stay around after class, Danielle; I want to show you some healing techniques.” I was lucky enough at that time to have menstrual cramps and Jay proceeded to do some pressure point work on me. He pressed along my collar bone area, thumb walked down either side of my spine, hit points on my hip area, did spinal pressure point work on my thumbs and feet and to my amazement my cramping disappeared. I could feel this current of energy go into my abdominal area and dissipate the cramping. I thought, “Wow, this is better than taking a Midol pill.”
I shared this experience with Bill and we decided that I would take my first pressure point course – Vita Flex from the book by Stanley Burroughs called “Healing for the Age of Enlightenment”. It was 1977 and Mr. Burroughs had been around for a long time as a pioneer in the healing arts field. He was well ahead of his time and had been arrested for “curing” people which threatened the medical model but that didn’t stop him putting the word out. His book included the famous Master Cleansing Diet, Yoga poses (designed by Jay Bixby), colour therapy which I love, and his wonderful Vita Flex pressure point methodologies. This is my favourite book of all time and when I find copies of it, I snatch them up and pass them on to students when they take my Lower Leg or Upper Body Advanced Circulation workshops, which include some Vita Flex points.
About the time I took Vita Flex, Bill’s son had been diagnosed with a curvature in his spinal column. We were instructed to take him to Sunny Brook Hospital for X-rays where it showed that his thigh bone fit into his hip socket incorrectly, thereby pushing his hip off and ending with a curved spine and one leg 1.5 cm shorter than the other. We were asked to come back in three months to see how he was doing.
I took my stepson to the Vita Flex teacher and asked him if he could lengthen legs. (I was really being facetious as I didn’t think it would be possible.) He said, “Yes, in fact, there is a leg-lengthening point in the collar bone area.” The teacher taught me what to do and I performed this two-minute ritual every morning before I sent the kids off to school. I only pressed on the collar bone area, thumb walked down either side of his spine and did the spinal areas on the thumbs and the feet. The teacher had said that it would probably take about three months to normalize the leg.
That was all I did and then we took him back to Sunny Brook as requested to get X-rays once again and to our amazement, he was completely normalized! Well, you can imagine that we were very, very impressed with this result and totally delighted for our son as he was only ten years old and now could continue life with a better skeletal system.
ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER
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.
A WHOLE HEALING SYSTEM AT OUR FINGERTIPS
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.
MOTHER NATURE IS THE HEALER
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.