By Sam Belyea a.k.a. The Foot Whisperer
Starting off in Reflexology I was exposed to just the feet. Mostly feet. With a little hands. But as my curiosity began to grow I wondered about how to map the other extremities. My instructors at the time shunned the idea that Western Reflexology could be applied to the face. Needless to say, that didn’t stop me.
What really captured my attention was my most influential teacher – the body – began to show me signs and symptoms on the face that I couldn’t ignore. I would intake new clients and they would mention they had back trouble or previous neck surgeries or digestive issues and there would be markers – visual and/or textural changes on their face – that lined up exactly where I would assume those troubled reflexes to be on the feet and hands. The only difference was I happened to be staring at a face! This happened so many times that I eventually began to ask my clients before they said anything ‘Do you have a history of x, y, z discomfort?’ and they would be floored that I was right on the money simply from assessing the face in front of me.
This was the power of Reflexology that I knew from the feet and hands, but I had now accurately developed the ‘whispering’ ability for the face! I was determined to find out how the face was mapped. Searching Amazon, Google and all my other Reflexology books I found a few authors mention Face Reflexology. I watched a few DVD technique courses and started seeing the similarities and differences between each style, but what shocked me was: all of them incorporated Eastern thought and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) instead of Western Reflexology principals. So was it technically Reflexology?
This was discouraging to say the least. TCM is powerful and has a reputation throughout history, but I didn’t want to learn a different system when I was already hitting the nail on the head with my assessments as I ‘played’ with idea of Face Reflexology using my Western map. So I created my own map based on how I map the feet and hands, started practicing my own techniques and formulated my own Face Reflexology content. Along the way I found there are the key differences in my adaptation of Western Face Reflexology versus what is currently being circulated on the market (which I will refer to as Eastern Face Reflexology):
1) Mapping Body Zones vs. Acu-points
We have all seen models of the Acupuncture meridians, those lines that run up and down and all around the body with points put in seemingly random places along these lines. There is a method to the mystery of the TCM meridians and acu-point approach, but you will see Eastern Face Reflexology maps with nothing but points or scattered sections of random ‘this is the liver area’ and ‘this is the shoulder area’ diagrams in no logical order. This confuses most would-be practitioners and makes them think that they need to basically become a TCM practitioner to understand how Reflexology works when in reality the two couldn’t be more different.
With Western Face Reflexology we believe in mapping the extremities in accordance with the body’s natural order: head/neck reflexes on top in the forehead, chest/shoulders reflexes around the eyes, then the upper core/digestive reflexes at the upper cheeks, followed by the lower core/digestive reflexes at the lower cheeks and at the base we have the lower body reflexes at the jaw – occurring in the same way our body is ordered. Makes a bit more sense, doesn’t it?
2) Technique: Stimulation vs. Massage
Searching for the ‘HOW’ of Face Reflexology was even more confusing. As I was combing through the internet, books and videos I found tissue stretching, tool applications and beating techniques but they all had one thing in common: they all resembled more of a massage technique instead of the alternating pressure technique that Western Reflexology utilizes.
During a typical Western Reflexology session there is an application of thumb and finger alternating pressure over the reflex areas that we refer to as ‘walking’. This press-release-move-forward motion creates nervous system stimulation similar to turning on and off a light switch. This specific technique is what gives Reflexology its power and without it we have another key difference of just massing the face versus stimulating the body to self-heal through the reflexes.
3) Active Palpation vs. Press-Button-Fix-Issue
Many people see a Reflexology map and think to themselves ‘If I just press the reflex the map tells me to then everything will get better.’ and that is not the case. Eastern Reflexology is still stuck in that mindset. However, in Western Reflexology we are actively palpating – using our sense of touch to feel for varying levels of congestion in reflex areas throughout an extremity – for areas that we NEED to focus on instead of just assuming that we need to press a series of points, massage vigorously or just press harder to get a result.
As you study how to apply Reflexology techniques to the face you will start to feel the difference between a healthy reflex and a congested one. This sense of palpation allows a Reflexologist to give feedback in addition to acting as a guide during a session. Although we have set routines that you can learn to ensure you cover the whole face, it is the ability to feel along with understanding the map of the face that creates a true Reflexology professional.
Now that you understand some of the differences between Eastern and Western schools of Reflexology, I encourage you to do your own research. What do you find along your journey into the reflexes of the face? Can you see the various similarities and differences between the schools of thought?
Experimentation and hands-on application is the only concrete way to validate any modality and as you access resources like our Face Reflexology Technique Onlinecourse I encourage you to let the body’s wisdom naturally speak to you as it did to me. Check out the course here!