Reflexology: Physical, Mental, Emotional And Spiritual Effects

By: Elena Francesca Barbiero

Reflexology: Physical, Mental, Emotional And Spiritual Effects

The idea that Reflexology can be used not only as a tool to address physical ailments, but also spiritual ones, has taken ground in the last few years. Is there some truth in the above? According to my experience as a Reflexologist, I can say positively yes. How does that happen? Reflexology stimulates 'energetically' the main organs in the body; this is turn has a domino effect on the emotional/mental body, but not only. The emotional / mental / physical / spiritual bodies are entwined; addressing an energetic imbalance will inevitably also affect the spiritual essence of the individual. Let me explain how I reached this conclusion, how this affects the individual's life and why I believe that the above is indeed true.

Reflexology is as popular as ever and is used for a variety of issues and ailments: it has proven very successful in addressing allergies, during pregnancy and in some cases it has been recommended by doctors as a support therapy for chemotherapy. One of the most exciting developments of the last decade is that allopathic practitioners are quietly, but consistently, endorsing complementary health practices as a valid complement to mainstream treatments: many NHS hospitals and practices are now offering complementary therapies in situ.

Reflexology works according to the same principles of acupuncture and acupressure, except that the energetic correspondences to the organs are found on a 'map' on the soles of the feet. The basic principle is that every area of the hand and foot is directly connected, energetically, to a specific area of the body. Is there a correspondence between physical health and emotional health? It is to say, could it be that illness is caused in some cases by an emotional/mental imbalance that weakens the functioning of the organs? Could one say that 'stress' (which is emotional in essence) weakens the immune system, through generating a continuous flight-or-fight response? This makes sense: but, could we link specific organs to specific emotions?

Chinese medicine has acknowledged the correspondence between the physical and the emotional for thousands of years. This is a simplified list of the Five Elements System correspondences, where the organs of the body are believed to be the 'seat' of an associated emotion:

Wood Element Correspondences:

Yin Organ: Liver

Yang Organ: Gallbladder

Sense Organ: Eyes

Tissue: Tendons

Emotion: Anger

Virtue: Kindness

Fire Element Correspondences:

Yin Organ: Heart/Pericardium

Yang Organ: Small Intestine/Triple Burner

Sense Organ: Tongue

Tissue: Vessels

Emotion: Anxiety

Virtue: Joy

Earth Element Correspondences:

Yin Organ: Spleen

Yang Organ: Stomach

Season: Late Summer

Sense Organ: Mouth

Tissue: Flesh/Muscle

Emotion: Worry/Pensiveness

Virtue: Equanimity

Metal Element Correspondences:

Yin Organ: Lung

Yang Organ: Large Intestine

Sense Organ: Nose

Tissue: Skin

Emotion: Grief/Sadness

Virtue: Courage

Water Element Correspondences

Yin Organ: Kidney

Yang Organ: Urinary Bladder

Sense Organ: Ears

Tissue: Bones

Emotion: Fear

Virtue: Wisdom/Awe

Interestingly similar references exist in Western languages: in the English language alone, we can find quite few. To have a heart of gold; to 'stomach' something; to have a gut feeling; love from the heart; butterflies in the stomach; to lose face; liverish; brain power; heartache; bilious. There are also many expressions that refer to communication and body language: hair-raising; in safe hands, to curl one's lip, give someone the eye; clear-eyed; to get a kick out of something; with open arms; feet of clay.

One could say that Western culture, at a purely intuitive level, also acknowledges a link between the organs of the body and emotional states. This connection, sadly, has long been denied by a training in the past centuries that taught doctors to see the body as a disconnected assembly of parts, rather than as a whole with the mental/emotional/spiritual bodies; what's more, any reference to energy, energy flow, intuition has been obliterated. Psychology and psychiatry have been taught as a separate branch, when in fact there are strong signs that some disorders of a psychological nature may have root in the 'physical' and vice versa (lack of the vitamin B complex for example is responsible for depression-like symptoms). As previously mentioned, there are encouraging signs that things are indeed evolving towards a more balanced view and I hope a small contribution such as this article may help in that direction.

So, can a reflexology treatment that addresses imbalances in physical organs, also be beneficial on the mental/emotional level? I would say most certainly yes: in my practice I have often treated people for a physical ailment, who then reported 'shifting' rather dramatically on the mental/emotional level, reaching an enhanced level of understanding in other areas of their lives. It can be a release from fear, or a conscious acknowledgement of an emotional state, or enhanced motivation. Each individual is unique, therefore the 'energy' will work in a unique way for each individual.

The reason why one can use reflexology to address emotional/mental states such as anger, depression, sadness etc. is that the stimulation of the points corresponding to organs, not only stimulates the physical organ energetically; an energetic stimulation encompasses the physical, and also addresses the emotional / mental patterns associated to the organ.

I'd like to go a step further: not only it is possible through reflexology to access each organ and the emotion associated 'energetically': it's also possible to access spiritual energy, through clearing the energy in the major chakras, which correspond to major vital organs in the body. The whole system is interconnected, and a domino effect is more or less inevitable: it can only be stopped by the individual, consciously or unconsciously. Indeed, it has to be the individual who by choice aims at living spiritually, or not. It's as simple as that.

Accessing spiritual energy is done through addressing imbalance in the chakras, which are the gateway (energy entry points) for that kind of energy. There are seven main chakras in the human body, and each has a specific function: they each correspond to vital organs in the body. The sole of the foot carries an etheric map of the organs of the body, so it's relatively simple to locate the specific points to stimulate the chakras, and therefore address underlying issues connected to each chakra's function. This is a list of correspondences between organs and chakras that I have personally found very useful:

Reflexology: Physical, Mental, Emotional And Spiritual Effects


Root: grounding, physical incarnation

Sacral: sexual energy, creativity

Solar plexus: power, seat of the etheric brain

Heart: compassion, ability to love

Throat: communication

Third Eye: intuition

Crown: spiritual awakening

Coccyx, intestines, elimination, piles

Gonads, reproductive organs, bladder

Digestion organs, liver, stomach, gallbladder, kidneys

empathy heart, lungs

metabolism, thyroid, thymus

pituitary, sinus, eyes

vibrational energy, spine (auric)

Addressing problems in the physical areas indicated above will also have a domino effect on the spiritual body. It's difficult to quantify 'scientifically' (at this moment in time with the technology we have) what effect this may have; empirically, I can say that when this happens there is usually a 'shift', that can be psychological or mental or emotional, that then has deep repercussions of how the individual generally sees his / her life. The intention of the therapist is key and helps supporting the individual's energy: you may wish as a therapist for the individual to reach a better level of spiritual understanding, and through the energy of universal love, it's likely that the individual will.

One may for example suddenly see a particular issue from a different point of view: a mental shift has taken place, where the individual is now able to consider another perspective. One may find that certain dietary habits do not serve the body: a change in diet and nutrition and in health and fitness brings new energy. One may feel more 'creative' and be able to externalise that creativity with a new activity or hobby, which in turn will bring more balance. One may also find the boundaries of certain relationships restrictive, and seek a new dynamic. Another may overcome an addictive pattern.

The above are a few examples of how a positive 'spiritual' shift may affect the individual: of course there are also negative shifts, which is what happens when an individual slowly falls into addiction (drug, alcohol, food, sex, etc.), or when the individual gradually divorces the emotional body from the mental/spiritual body, and so on, gradually but surely losing touch with his/her true essence. Reflexology can successfully reverse a negative shift.

At the end of the day, 'living spiritually' doesn't mean to be part of a church or a spiritual congregation, although that may well be the mean one decides to use. 'Living spiritually' is living ethically, supporting justice, respect and connection to others. Living spiritually means to have reached a level of development where the person evolves from a basic satisfaction of needs to a wider understanding, openness and compassion. The soul is thirsty for spiritual knowledge: you can go to church ten times a day, but if your heart is closed and you actively discriminate against people who follow other beliefs, you are probably less spiritual than most. Bigotry is not spirituality.

There are emotional / mental reasons why illness manifests, a link that also Western medicine has made with the concept of psychosomatic illness; there are also sometimes spiritual reasons why illness is manifested on the physical plan. I personally support an integrated approach to health, open to the 'integration' of allopathic and complementary methods. When you look at the complexity of the workings of the body, the immense magnitude of the task at hand strikes you: there are things that are still not properly understood or explained. Integrating an approach that mixes the knowledge of the body and the awareness of the importance of energetic matters is in my opinion the way forward: even a simple practice such as reflexology, easily learnt and very safe, can be of great help in daily life, and can open doors that we didn't even know were there. Are we humans having a spiritual experience, of spiritual beings having a human experience? I'll leave you to answer this question.

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