by Anna the Walk In Wellness blogger
The sweet twang of sitar music greets me as I walk in to the Tuesday Wellness Clinic, and all three tables are occupied; after a few minutes pass, Shelby Schue finishes up with her client, and it’s my turn to get a reflexology treatment.
If you’ve ever worked with a reflexologist, you may already know this: it’s all about the feet, but it’s not about the feet at all.
This isn’t my first experience with Shelby; during my initial treatment a couple of years ago, this gifted therapist told me straight out: “Don’t think only about your feet. That’s my job. Reflexology is a whole-body experience.”
To be honest, all I could think about at the time was the screaming pain in my feet, which were trying to adjust to tile and concrete surfaces after living most of my life on wood or laminate flooring and carpet.
My feet weren’t happy. Every day was another avalanche of misery, with each step carving a fresh and nasty notch into my sensory awareness. But in spite of the fact that I was focused on foot pain during the treatment Shelby gave me that day, something amazing happened.
After thirty minutes of her attention, my feet made a complete recovery. It felt like a miracle, and I haven’t had any trouble with sore feet since that day.
So I’m not necessarily looking for another miracle when Shelby takes my foot in her hands. She asks me if there are any particular issues I’m working with on a physical level, and then gives me a little background on reflexology.
Here’s the scoop: toxins pool up in the feet, and reflexology work opens up neural zonelines so blood can flow freely, increasing circulation. This relaxes the inner body as well as the feet, including vital organs, glands, muscles, and bones. It relieves constriction, allowing the entire body to come into balance.
It’s news to me, but all nerve endings start in the feet. No wonder we get ticklish! But she says people never have trouble with that when she works on them.
“There are over seven thousand two hundred nerve endings in each foot,” she tells me, pressing a thumb (or finger?) into the soft tissue on the bottom of my left sole. Her touch is firm, and within a minute or two, she finds a tender spot.
And I have to warn you, when she finds a sensitive area, it’s like her ears perk up. Or her hands. Shelby moves in deeper, exploring the flesh under my footskin, kneading and working it until I get squirmy under her touch.
She lightens up when I start to pull away, and then we talk about what part of my body each area is associated with; I am not surprised when I find out one tender part is a direct line to my adrenal glands, which have certainly been under the gun. Tender spots usually indicate issues in the interior of the body.
Though others are getting massage treatments only a few feet away from me, Shelby and I are in our own little reflexology world. I don’t feel self-conscious talking with her about what’s going on in my body; I’m enjoying the fact that it’s all about me.
Not only my feet. Me.
Shelby has been practicing reflexology for forty-six years; she opened one of the first health food stores in Vermont and shortly after that, she saw a reflexologist working and was intrigued. She bought a book, studied, and began practicing on people’s feet for $5 a session.
After a couple of years, Shelby began giving workshops, appearing on television, and doing radio shows. In the mid-eighties, she added rebirthing work to her repertoire. Shelby served on the board of New Mexico Association of Reflexologists for a number of years, and has given workshops all over the country.
Obviously a diagram of the human foot, along with all the neural connections to each part of the body, is clearly imprinted on Shelby’s soul. Her fingers follow the pathways, pressing, probing and kneading. Some of it feels soothing and some of it doesn’t.
By the end of the treatment, I know what organs are struggling and could use my support, and none of it is truly surprising. The areas of concern are mostly what I would have expected, if I had to guess.
When I walk out the door, the spots that were so tender under Shelby’s firm touch have calmed down; my feet don’t feel much different than when we started, but I’m in a state of heightened awareness when it comes to my physicality.
It feels like I’ve had the benefit of an intuitive translator who let me know exactly what my feet were trying to tell me. I have ideas about changes I can make to help my body cope with life’s challenges, and I imagine the benefits of increased circulation and improved energy flow to the adrenal glands and other areas that need attention.
So don’t think about your feet when you get a reflexology treatment. Think about the big picture, and let your interpreter clue you in; you’ll feel like you’re getting an internal massage, and walk out knowing more about what’s going on inside than you ever would have thought possible.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll even get your own miracle.