By Deirdre Brocklebank, BA, Dip Reflexology
The connection between reflexology and the meridians has been well established and documented. Some excellent references are “The Art of Reflexology” by Inge Dougans and “Chi-Reflexology Guidelines for the Middle Way” by Moss Arnold. The nexus for the link between reflexology and acupuncture is the concept of energy channels (meridians) that is pivotal to both these practices. Both act on the premise that this vital energy, considered the foundation of health, traverses the body in exact and orderly patterns. Both practices assert that illness or pain is caused by blockages within these energy channels and both work holistically to restore the body’s own healing potential.
As all reflexologists know, the effects engendered by stimulating the feet are attributed, in part, to stimulating the reflexes which represent a perfect microcosm of the body on the feet. Effects are also due to stimulating the six meridians in the feet. These meridians penetrate the major organs of the body. Consequently, the stimulation facilitates clearing blockages along meridians and encourages the vital body energy to flow unimpeded. By incorporating this knowledge into the practice of reflexology, one is able to correct energy imbalances through regular reflexology treatments together with advice on lifestyle factors that contribute to them.
I have found that this knowledge about meridians can also be extended to the application of the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) with reflexology. I am a practising reflexologist and I have been using EFT for about seven years, either on its own or in a session including reflexology. I may also apply other modalities including Theta healing, Pranic Healing and Reiki depending on the client’s needs. I also use Bush Flower Essences and I am currently looking at the potential for healing offered by essential oils.
For those who don’t know, EFT is a meridian energy therapy and it is highly effective for resolving negative emotions such as anger, grief, fear, guilt, stress, jealousy and depression and it can also reduce physical pain. It can also be applied to “feeling stuck”, energy and motivation, attracting abundance and enhancing performance in work, sports and creative pursuits.
The premise on which EFT is based is that emotional distress is due to a disruption in the meridian energy system and this can give rise to physical as well as emotional symptoms. EFT balances the disrupted meridians by tapping into the system through specific acupuncture points. This assists in releasing stress from both the body and mind (conscious and subconscious), as the meridian system communicates with every organ and physiological system in the body.
EFT and reflexology have worked well together for the benefit of my clients as they are both holistic, meridian based touch therapies which recognise the mind/body connection. The mind/body connection is particularly obvious when doing EFT as physical pains which manifest during a session can often be quickly resolved by tapping for the physical pain itself and/or for the emotions associated with the pain. For example, one of my clients had been suffering from sharp pain in her left shoulder and while doing EFT she realised that the pain intensified when she was thinking of or talking about her mother. Once she addressed the issues around herself and her mother the pain disappeared and did not reappear in future sessions of EFT with her.
I also noticed that the previously mentioned client, like many of my other clients who had been dealing with physical pain plus very intense emotional issues, obtained a very deep sense of wellbeing and peace from the reflexology following the EFT in the same session. I believe that the benefits of the reflexology for those clients were enhanced by the EFT work before it. This is supported from the feedback from a colleague after she attended one of my EFT workshops. She used the technique on two clients and she told me that ” both seemed to feel a lot calmer afterwards. One of them even went to sleep during the ensuring reflexology, which is quite unusual for her, as damage to her lower back usually starts her right leg jumping after a while, and we have to do VRT to finish.” [VRT – (Vertical Reflex Therapy) is applied while the person being treated is standing, or at least putting pressure on their feet or hands].
Sometimes my clients may feel very tired after EFT particularly if they have resolved and let go of very deep emotional issues. I have found that they can be significantly re-energised by the reflexology following the EFT in the same session.
EFT can be effectively applied during a reflexology treatment to clear very tender reflexes. For example, a client’s kidney reflexes were very tender and she said that she felt afraid. We had been dealing with issues of fear earlier in the same session using EFT and so I asked her to think of those issues while she tapped on her Collar Bone points (K 27), while I worked the kidney reflexes in her feet. The tension cleared almost immediately from the reflexes. She then developed a pain in her actual spleen. I asked her to tap the Under Eye points (St 1) while I worked the spleen reflex in her foot. NB I was applying the principle of partner organs and the stomach is the partner organ to the spleen. Again the pain cleared almost immediately.
Reflexologists apply their techniques to the hands as well as to the ears and feet. EFT also utilises acupuncture points on the hand meridians in addition to acupuncture points on the body and face. These acupuncture points are associated with key emotions according to kinesiology and principles of Chinese medicine. I am still exploring the potential for applying EFT points on the hands with reflexology. This could include the client tapping or holding their hand points while I work their corresponding foot reflexes. For example, they could tap the Thumb point (Th) on the side of their thumb nail (LU 11) while I work their lung reflex for emotional and/or physical lung related conditions.
With the exception of the points on the Governing and Central channels, all the EFT tapping (acupuncture) points in the head and body are on meridians that also go through the feet. I have, therefore, been exploring during a reflexology treatment, either tapping or holding the points on the feet which are on those meridians.
For example, I have had clients tap or hold the Eye Brow (EB) points on the Urinary Bladder (UB) meridians while I tap or hold UB 67 on the lateral side of their small toe nails. The Side of the Eye (SE) point is on the Gall Bladder (GB) meridian so I tap or hold GB 44 on the lateral side of their fourth toe nails. The Under Eye (UE) point is on the Stomach (St) meridian so I tap or hold St 45 on the lateral side of their second toe nails.
The potential for this approach was demonstrated to me when I applied it with a particular client who became very emotional during seated reflexology while she was thinking about her step father. He was dying at the time and she was deeply affected by this. Even though we had done some EFT tapping on this issue before the reflexology, it was obviously still an intensely emotional issue for her. I asked her to tap the EFT points on her face and body while focussing on her step father’s condition. As she did that I held each of the equivalent points on her feet. She found that she quickly became calmer and felt a lot better after one round of the EFT combined with me holding her meridian points in her feet.
As previously mentioned, the acupuncture points on the feet are on the actual meridians and don’t therefore necessarily correspond to the anatomical positions of the EFT points on the face and body. For example, the Under Arm (UA) point is actually on the spleen meridian so I held the Sp1 acupuncture point located medially on the big toe rather than the anatomical under arm equivalent. Likewise, the Under Breast (UB) point is on the liver meridian so I held the Lv1 acupuncture point located laterally on the big toe rather than the anatomical equivalent.
As also mentioned previously, the Governing and Central vessels are only located in the trunk and head and so there are no corresponding meridian points in the feet to these points. However, I have found it very interesting that on several occasions when clients have been experiencing strong emotions during seated reflexology, that tapping the top of the big toes (which equates with the Top of Head point – Governing 20), is very powerful and calming. One good example of this was with a client who became very emotional while I was holding the Lumbar 5 point with the knee/leg/hip/lower back point in precision reflexology. She recalled in detail her rape when she was 16. She talked about the event while tapping on her TH to KC points on her face, body and hands. I alternated between holding the K1 (Solar Plexus) points bimanually and tapping the TH point equivalent on the top of the big toes, also bimanually. She felt a release in the tension that she had been feeling in her bowels and considered that it had an emotional rather than a physical cause. She had told me when she arrived for the treatment that she thought the discomfort was due to a gastric upset.
Sharon Strathis (founder of the Reflexology Academy of Brisbane, and teacher of Ayurvedic reflexology) has kindly informed me since I first wrote this article: “It is interesting to note that you mention tapping the top of the big toes. In the Ayurvedic system, this is where two major nadis (energy channels) have their apertures to the exterior. Working these nadis has a profound effect on the movement of energy (prana/chi) on the associated side of the body. The apertures are also located at the tip of the thumbs close to the nails.”
I may also tap across or hold below the nail on the dorsal aspect of the big toe for an approximate, anatomical equivalent for the under nose and chin points which are on the Governing and Central vessels respectively. The associated main emotions are feeling unsupported on the Under Nose (UN) and feeling overwhelmed on the Chin (CH) points.
I have also found EFT to be very effective if a client applies it to themselves when I am giving them VRT. For example, one client had a very sore right knee and lower back. Her knee/leg/hip/lower back reflexes on both her foot were very tender. I worked these reflexes as she focussed on the discomfort in these reflexes as well as in her actual knee and lower back, while she tapped on the SE (gall bladder meridian point) alternatively with the EB (urinary bladder meridian point). I asked the client to tap these points as they are on the meridians that pass through the areas which were painful in her body. The tension in the reflexes cleared very quickly as did the actual physical pain in her knee (lateral side) and also in her lower back.
I am continuing to explore the potential for healing which is offered through reflexology and the other modalities that I use for the best outcome for my clients, while having FUN (Freeing Unwanted Negativity) as I do this.
As a therapist I prefer my reference material to be presented in a clear, concise and structured format which is why I have created an EFT™ chart which incorporates the main emotions from a Kinesiology and a Chinese Medicine perspective and identifies each relevant Chinese meridian point with its EFT point equivalent by using diagrams and tables. To purchase a chart go to the connection from the “Tapping Chart” tab on this site.
Revised July 2008
Deirdre Brocklebank BA, Diploma of Reflexology, Cert, IV Assessment and Workplace Training, EFT Practitioner and teacher, Theta Healing Practitioner. Member RAA. firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.ntpages.com.au/therapist/452