The Healing Benefits of Foot Reflexology Massage
Reflexology, also known as zone therapy or acupressure, dates back to ancient China and Egypt, and is documented in ancient medical texts as far back as 4000 B.C.E.. Similar to acupuncture’s potential benefits and methodology, reflexology uses pressure rather than needles to activate points and organs throughout the body to relieve pain, stimulate circulation, and bring balance to the bodily systems.
Though one of the oldest healing practices, reflexology wasn’t adopted in the Western regions of the world until at least the 1500’s, and again later in the 20th century when it was Westernized and perhaps simplified in practice in Russia and Europe.
Despite its age and longevity, reflexology’s long list of potential benefits are not well documented or well researched. Much like acupuncture, reflexology is not based on pure scientific fact, but rather a millennia of trial and error, patterns and an elaborate mapping of the energies of the body. Though it is still a somewhat controversial practice that has been deemed “alternative”, its reported benefits range from stress relief and relaxation to increased blood circulation.
Generalities aside, just because we cannot prove a response does not necessarily negate the wide ranging potential benefits that reflexology may provide. Reflexology is said to stimulate individual organs and bodily symptoms, remove blockages, and reverse disease.
In line with a traditional holistic mentality, if we view disease as an imbalance or blockage in the body versus a diagnosis, this means once we remove this blockage and allow the energy to flow freely the symptoms will subside and heath will be restored.
The Potential Benefits Of Reflexology Are:
- increased immunity
- improved energy
- eased stress and anxiety
- pain relief
- circulation stimulation
- reduced blood pressure
- congestion relief
- internal organ stimulation
The practice of reflexology follows the meridians – energy lines or channels that map the entire body. Each organ corresponds with different channels which can be accessed through different points on the body. There are fourteen major channels of the body, and when it comes to reflexology, over two thousand points throughout the body.
Though acupressure and reflexology can be practiced anywhere on the body, it is common to do so on the hands, ears or feet, where the meridian channels end and all come together. Concentrated in these areas, we can access every organ and system on the body.
When it comes to our feet, these points can be accessed through the soles of our feet was well as the tops. Simplified, there are four main areas of the soles of the feet that correspond to organs relating to the head and neck, spine, chest, and pelvic areas. The left foot corresponds to the left side of the body, and the right foot, the right side of the body.
Areas Of The Body And Which Areas Of The Foot They Correspond With:
Head and Neck Regions and Organs – Toes
Spine – Inside strip of each foot, running the length of the entire foot
Chest Region and Organs, Stomach, Intestines, Bladder – Chest area corresponds with the widest diameter of the foot. Waistline area of the body corresponds with smallest diameter.
Pelvic Region Organs, Legs, Buttocks – Heels, hind foot.
For instance, the tips of the toes correspond to sinuses. The line running down the edge of the inner foot corresponds with the spine. The kidney and bladder area is located in the center of the foot as well as along the inner arch. The small intestine area just behind this in the center back of the hind foot.
There are many foot reflexology map references that help you to understand the organ relationships and the corresponding areas of the feet.
When we feel pain, have swelling, or tension in these areas, it may be an indication of a blockage or issue with these corresponding areas of the body
When massaging, heavy pressure is not necessary. The real benefit is more about accessing these points specifically. Once found, each point is usually held for about a minute.
Though massage has benefits in and of itself, reflexology is most effective when practiced by a trained professional. Check out these Reflexology Associations for more information and help finding a reputable practitioner.
7 Ways Meditation Can Actually Change The Brain
The meditation-and-the-brain research has been rolling in steadily for a number of years now, with new studies coming out just about every week to illustrate some new benefit of meditation. Or, rather, some ancient benefit that is just now being confirmed with fMRI or EEG. The practice appears to have an amazing variety of neurological benefits – from changes in grey matter volume to reduced activity in the “me” centers of the brain to enhanced connectivity between brain regions. Below are some of the most exciting studies to come out in the last few years and show that meditation really does produce measurable changes in our most important organ. Skeptics, of course, may ask what good are a few brain changes if the psychological effects aren’t simultaneously being illustrated? Luckily, there’s good evidence for those as well, with studies reporting that meditation helps relieve our subjective levels of anxiety and depression, and improve attention, concentration, and overall psychological well-being.
Meditation Helps Preserve the Aging Brain
Last week, a study from UCLA found that long-term meditators had better-preserved brains than non-meditators as they aged. Participants who’d been meditating for an average of 20 years had more grey matter volume throughout the brain — although older meditators still had some volume loss compared to younger meditators, it wasn’t as pronounced as the non-meditators. “We expected rather small and distinct effects located in some of the regions that had previously been associated with meditating,” said study author Florian Kurth. “Instead, what we actually observed was a widespread effect of meditation that encompassed regions throughout the entire brain.”
Meditation Reduces Activity in the Brain’s “Me Center”
One of the most interesting studies in the last few years, carried out at Yale University, found that mindfulness meditation decreases activity in the default mode network (DMN), the brain network responsible for mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts – a.k.a., “monkey mind.” The DMN is “on” or active when we’re not thinking about anything in particular, when our minds are just wandering from thought to thought. Since mind-wandering is typically associated with being less happy, ruminating, and worrying about the past and future, it’s the goal for many people to dial it down. Several studies have shown that meditation, though its quieting effect on the DMN, appears to do just this. And even when the mind does start to wander, because of the new connections that form, meditators are better at snapping back out of it.
Its Effects Rival Antidepressants for Depression, Anxiety
A review study last year at Johns Hopkins looked at the relationship between mindfulness meditation and its ability to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and pain. Researcher Madhav Goyal and his team found that the effect size of meditation was moderate, at 0.3. If this sounds low, keep in mind that the effect size for antidepressants is also 0.3, which makes the effect of meditation sound pretty good. Meditation is, after all an active form of brain training. “A lot of people have this idea that meditation means sitting down and doing nothing,” says Goyal. “But that’s not true. Meditation is an active training of the mind to increase awareness, and different meditation programs approach this in different ways.” Meditation isn’t a magic bullet for depression, as no treatment is, but it’s one of the tools that may help manage symptoms.
Just a Few Days of Training Improves Concentration and Attention
Having problems concentrating isn’t just a kid thing – it affects millions of grown-ups as well, with an ADD diagnosis or not. Interestingly but not surprisingly, one of the central benefits of meditation is that it improves attention and concentration: One recent study found that just a couple of weeks of meditation training helped people’s focus and memory during the verbal reasoning section of the GRE. In fact, the increase in score was equivalent to 16 percentile points, which is nothing to sneeze at. Since the strong focus of attention (on an object, idea, or activity) is one of the central aims of meditation, it’s not so surprising that meditation should help people’s cognitive skills on the job, too – but it’s nice to have science confirm it. And everyone can use a little extra assistance on standardized tests.
Meditation Reduces Anxiety — and Social Anxiety
A lot of people start meditating for its benefits in stress reduction, and there’s lots of good evidence to support this rationale. There’s a whole newer sub-genre of meditation, mentioned earlier, called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts’ Center for Mindfulness (now available all over the country), that aims to reduce a person’s stress level, physically and mentally. Studies have shown its benefits in reducing anxiety, even years after the initial 8-week course. Research has also shown that mindfulness meditation, in contrast to attending to the breath only, can reduce anxiety – and that these changes seem to be mediated through the brain regions associated with those self-referential (“me-centered”) thoughts. Mindfulness meditation has also been shown to help people with social anxiety disorder: a Stanford University team found that MBSR brought about changes in brain regions involved in attention, as well as relief from symptoms of social anxiety.
Short Meditation Breaks Can Help Kids in School
For developing brains, meditation has as much as or perhaps even more promise than it has for adults. There’s been increasing interest from educators and researchers in bringing meditation and yoga to school kids, who are dealing with the usual stressors inside school, and oftentimes additional stress and trauma outside school. Some schools have starting implementing meditation into their daily schedules, and with good effect: One district in San Francisco started a twice daily meditation program in some of its high-risk schools – and saw suspensions decrease, and GPAs and attendance increase. Studies have confirmed the cognitive and emotional benefits of meditation for schoolchildren, but more work will probably need to be done before it gains more widespread acceptance.
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