By Deirdre Brocklebank, BA, Dip Reflexology

Extending the hand of friendship took on a new meaning for me in 2001. During January to April that year, my daughter Holly and I travelled through Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, North and South India, Nepal and Tibet and we visited Los Angeles and Samoa on the way home. Holly had been in China for six weeks to complete her degree in Chinese Medicine (specialising in Acupuncture), so I picked her up from Nanning in Guanzhou and that’s where our adventures began.

On our travels I was hoping to experience different healing modalities but in fact, I was given the opportunity to offer healing assistance more often than I was given the chance to receive any from people from other cultures. Fortunately, Holly and I were able to help each other with our different conditions that we suffered while travelling, including travel stress and fatigue; stomach cramps, “Delhi Belly” and in my case, also severe mouth ulcers.

I used Foot and Hand Reflexology, plus the other modalities of Pranic Healing (working with energies through the body’s charkas); Auricular Therapy; Acupressure and Reiki. My efforts were often complemented by Holly’s skills in Acupuncture, Pranic Healing, Acupressure and Massage. On several occasions, we combined our knowledge to assist with healing by applying principles of Chinese Medicine with Reflexology. My knowledge of the former was much more limited than Holly’s, but our combined efforts generally seemed to get good results.

For the purposes of this article, I will mention a couple of occasions where I was able to help with healing. Overall, I assisted more than 30 people from America, Austria, Australia, China, England, India, Israel, Nepal and Switzerland with their various conditions of dis-ease. The conditions I worked on included general stress, low energy, “Delhi Belly”; stomach cramps; nausea; vomiting; diarrhoea; altitude sickness; period pain; impotency; asthma; lost voice; sore eyes; sinus; headaches; neck/back/shoulder pain; bruised/sprained wrist; bruised elbow; sore hip; weakened leg muscles; pain from a broken leg and pain from an old ankle injury.

Not only did the offer of helping with healing provide us with an immediate link to the people we met, but it also provided us with an insight into understanding different cultures and why people act as they do. On one memorable occasion in India, when we were nearing the end of a mammoth 26 hour train trip, we started talking with two young Indian men. Before we knew it, at his friend’s request, I was giving one of them Reflexology for general stress and asthma, and Holly and I were both making suggestions to this 33 year old about how to deal with stress. He said that we were the first people to give him some advice on this. He had apparently been raised to regard life as a battle, to always be serious and to look at the negatives rather than the positives. It was wonderful that we were able to build up trust so quickly with this man and all the other people whom we assisted. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that Reflexology is a non-invasive, touch therapy and that the benefits can often be felt very quickly. This encounter was just one of many similar experiences for us and we felt really privileged to be given the opportunities to interact with people in this way on our travels.

Another highlight for me was when we visited an emporium for clothes and artefacts in Jaipur, India. One young employee, had a bruised and swollen wrist. He agreed that I could give him Pranic Healing with my crystal. I did this for a few minutes and then I showed him how to work on his ankle to correspond with his swollen wrist, by applying the reflexology principle of referral areas. The next day we went back to the emporium and the man showed me that his wrist was no longer swollen or bruised. In no time at all, other employees (all men), were lined up for healing. The next man indicated to me the prostate points on his wrists and said he was having problems and did I understand what he meant. He confirmed my understanding that he had become impotent and that he and his wife were not happy about it. I did some relaxation techniques on his feet and then I worked on his head and neck, shoulders and musculo/skeletal, adrenals and reproductive reflexes in his hands and feet and we parted with “Tonight’s the night”. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to check with him how successful the treatment had been as we left town the next day.

The following man in the same emporium had a stiff shoulder; the next had lower back pain and the next young man had a swollen elbow as a result of a motor bike accident. I worked the relevant muscular/skeletal and respective reflex points on their hands and feet and each of them told me that they experienced almost immediate relief. I also showed them where to work on their own hands to help with their respective injuries. The last man had already had open-heart surgery and he was now faced with more surgery plus a life of living on drugs. I told him I couldn’t offer a miracle and suggested that he go to the Sai Baba free hospital in Bangalore * which specialises in treating cardiac and neurological conditions. I was, however, able to read his feet (thanks to Chris Stormer), and I told him that he appeared to be literally suffering from a broken heart. I felt that he was doing too much for others and not speaking his own needs and desires. He needed to open up and communicate what he wanted. Dark spots appeared across his emotional/feeling heart lung zones on his feet as we spoke. He agreed with everything that I said and I only hope that he was in a position to do something about it.

The amazing thing about all the healing encounters in India was that we had been told it is considered very bad manners and etiquette to touch or to draw attention to the feet in public in that country. Even pointing one’s feet towards another is regarded as highly offensive. Yet there I was, giving Foot Reflexology to Indian men while sitting in a public place. This happened not only on these two occasions, but also on several other occasions in India and also in Nepal, where the same rules of etiquette apply.

Because we were moving continually and we were not staying in one place for very long we couldn’t always have feedback on how the healing that we offered had helped. Despite this, I generally found that people responded positively and very quickly to muscular/skeletal work, in particular for sore shoulder/stiff necks and/or headaches. Holly, however, was a constant, and so I was able to monitor her responses to Reflexology over a longer term. She found great relief from travel stress from the general Reflexology workouts, particularly the Chinese Method. She also swears by the effectiveness of pressing on the stomach reflex (left hand), for providing almost instantaneous relief from her stomach cramps. I might add, that this was despite the fact we were bouncing along in an open jeep while looking for rhinoceros in the Chitwan National Park in Nepal. She also got great relief from applying pressure to the lower spine on her hands, while we were bouncing across Tibet in a badly sprung four wheel drive.

We were both grateful for our knowledge of healing (particularly of Reflexology for me), as it was fantastic in helping us to bridge the gap between ourselves and people from other, often very different, cultures. Through a desire to help people to deal with their various conditions of dis-ease we were able to develop strong bonds with them in very short times. The more we travelled the more we realised that regardless of their cultural backgrounds, most people seem open to accepting help to improve their health. Language and different other cultural traits are no bar to this.

* The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences in Bangalore was an inspiration to us as it showed what can be achieved in the name of love. The hospital has 330 beds and 12 operating theatres. We found it hard to believe that the entire Institute and accommodation quarters were built within a year and those buildings plus equipment etc and ongoing costs are paid for from unsolicited donations. Prospective patients line up at the gate and then they are processed and, if necessary, admitted for treatment. The director “walked” us through the hospital on the computer screen. He said that one of the hardest things for the overseas doctors to come to terms with, was the fact that Sai Baba believes that everyone, regardless of their financial situation, should be given the same high quality of care for their specific cardiac and neurological conditions and that this treatment is offered free of charge. The doctors were initially coming from a Western viewpoint that people should pay for their specialised health care.

Updated September 2008

Deirdre Brocklebank BA, Diploma of Reflexology, Cert, IV Assessment and Workplace Training, EFT Practitioner and teacher, Theta Healing Practitioner. Member RAA.