By Christine Issel, NBCR
Christine Issel is synonymous with reflexology. With over 40 years in the industry, she can rightfully claim co-creation of the Reflexology Association of America, the American Reflexology Certification Board and the International Council of Reflexologists. She is a much sought-after consultant, lecturer, editor, legislative lobbyist and the author of three popular books: Reflexology: Art, Science and History; Eunice Ingham: A Biography; and Reflexognosy: A Shift in Paradigm (with Sandi Rogers). I am thrilled that Christine agreed to write a guest blog, the request for which was stimulated by my reading of her ground-breaking book on Reflexognosy. Feel free to post comments below this article or contact Christine through her website.
For reflexologists, the questions often arise: Is working slowly more advantageous than working fast? Is it more beneficial to use light to moderate pressure than heavy pressure so that the client can more easily and quickly reach a relaxation response? Is there research supporting answers to these questions?
Here I will attempt to explain some known facts about energy and share some research findings that may shed light on these questions.
Energy not only surrounds us, it interpenetrates the cells of our body.
The organs of our body are composed of tissues made up of cells, which are in turn made up of molecules and atoms, which are all whirling, pulsating, vibrating fields of energy. All matter vibrates and has a frequency. Within the body are different energy frequencies and systems.
According to the Tiller-Einstein model, the first level of energy moving faster than light is the etheric frequency of matter and energy. On the gross or physical level of the body (i.e., the physical level comprising the densest level of energy) there are biochemical and bioelectrical networks at play. At this level, matter and energy are primarily electrical in nature.
In addition, there are higher invisible energies – a life force – responsible for life and creative expression beyond ordinary human perception. The energy/matter beyond the speed of light is electromagnetic in nature. This electromagnetic network involves the work of the finer subtle energy systems of acupuncture meridians and the chakra-nadis.
The Electro-Magnetic Current
Dr. Robert Becker, (1985) a respected orthopedic surgeon and author of The Body Electric and Cross Currents suggests there is proof the body is an electrical unit operating within an electrical web and an electrical energetic field surrounding the body.
Becker found that the points along the acupuncture meridians enhance the electromagnetic current flowing in the body. It was detected that the meridians had the electrical characteristics of transmission lines, while skin not associated with meridians did not.
Dr. Becker further documented the existence of an underlying electromagnetic life force within the body that stimulates it to grow and heal. His studies show that an injury causes the brain to send low-level electrical signals to the wound that stimulate repair. As the repair process continues this signal diminishes in intensity. The slower stimulating signal in turn slows the repair activity and when the wound heals the signal stops.
Becker found that if the level of current is in a very low range, regeneration occurs. If it is much higher, cell degeneration results. This may explain the healing properties of relaxation, biofeedback and meditation; all of which calm and slow the body down.
Electrical activity emanating from the brain is displayed in the form of brainwaves.
There are five categories of these brainwaves, ranging from the most activity to the least. At 40 Hz, Gamma waves are important for information processing and learning. In the Beta state, we are the most alert (our day consciousness). This frequency of human brain activity is between 12.5 and 30 Hz. In the Alpha state, with an electrical frequency between 8 and 13 Hz, we are relaxed but alert. The Theta state is one of drowsiness. It is the conscious state just before sleeping and just after waking and the state reached in meditation and is measured between 4 and 7 pulses per second. Delta brain waves are the slowest between 0.1 and 4 cycles per second. When asleep and dreaming, we have reached the Delta state.
These last two stages of brain activity are necessary for the healing and regeneration process to occur.
Reflexology and Brain Waves
In human electroencephalogram (EEG) studies, reflexology was found to create a relaxation response or put the body in a theta state, a state in which it may begin the rejuvenation process and work to the best of its ability to heal itself.
This was confirmed in EEG studies conducted by Dr. Jesus Manzanares, who compared the changes in wave amplitudes with patients receiving reflexology. The EEG presented waves that changed from alpha to theta and delta with the application of reflexology techniques.
Sir Charles Sherrington (1861-1952) proved that the whole nervous system adjusts to a stimulus, earning him a Nobel Prize in 1932. He shared the prize with Dr. Edgar Adrian for their work on the physiology of the nervous system.
Adrian also made a discovery all reflexologists should be aware of.
Not long after World War I, he showed that the electrical intensity of the nerve impulse depended on the size of the nerve rather than upon the strength of the stimulus. His discovery suggests heavy pressure is not needed in our work—moderate to light pressure could be just as effective.
The above may explain why some reflexologists find that slower movements and moderate to light pressure contribute to a stronger therapy that gives them access to the inner depths of the client both physically and emotionally.
However, it is this author’s contention that all reflexologists have their own innate rate of working just as they have their own unique touch. Each of us must answer the questions posed at the beginning of this article for ourselves, or through training modify our technique for maximum effectiveness.