by Sam Belyea a.k.a. The Foot Whisperer
My students will often ask me, with a certain amount of discouragement in their voice, “Sam, how do you get good at Foot Reading?” The problem with this question is the motive behind the asking. The feeling of discouragement about not getting the core concepts to click is the first wall in EVERY craft – regardless of what is studied. You can’t get good at reading feet unless you suck up that feeling of discomfort, overwhelmed-ness and frustration at the nuances of the craft and just read yourself some feet!
For this reason, let me outline three key aspects of studying the art and science of reading feet. These lessons can be applied to any course of study and I specifically encourage you to overcome the base emotions of paralyzing hesitation to pursue Foot Reading as a serious discipline. At the end of the day, that is what Foot Reading and Reflexology is: another thing to get good at. So, after you’ve studied the basics with Imre Somogyi, Jane Sheehan and/or myself, it’s time to jump feet-first into practicing your discipline.
The reason why I’m good at what I do is because I have been seeing multiple clients a day over the past eight years. The compound interest of my raw experience is what makes my approach to the work shine above the rest, but it wasn’t like that in the beginning. There were many failed attempts, wrong interpretations, awkward moments and unimpressed clients. I am where I am today because I kept reading feet despite my lack of understanding and my blind enthusiasm for the work itself – for the potential to discover that everything in the body IS truly interconnected and can be seen completley through the lens of the extremities.
Get a good number of feet under your eyes and you will start seeing the information click too. I often tell my students that they need to build their Rolodex of feet; seeing real feet with owners who have specific issues that you can translate and recognize in the other feet you meet. This library of feet can only develop over time. When I feel like my skills are slipping, I will also just Google the word ‘feet’ and look at random pictures that people post from all over the world – some pictures are super gross and not for the faint of heart, but the experience is valuable nonetheless.
As a general rule, you should get to know your own feet. See the markers that are present on your own body and remember the previous injuries/experiences your feet have gone through. There is no substitution for a first-hand experience and your feet may hold the key to unlocking your inner confidence through piecing together your own story through your reflexes.
2. Feedback Oriented Dialogue
Clients are your teachers. Getting over the fear of asking them for feedback is essential to growing as a Foot Reader. When I first started, I needed to learn the difference between my own inner fear to ask for feedback and the idea of ‘digression’ or appropriate dialogue. If someone clearly doesn’t have the bandwidth to have a deeper conversation then it’s important not to unload on them. However, if you hold back you might lose the chance to change their life for the better through your words.
Clients will also correct you and help clarify your interpretations through their first-hand experience of their own life/feet. Learning the nuances of interpretation and assessment require that you get the full story straight from the horse’s mouth. Once you fully understand what the client has been experiencing and you mentally catalogue it with the marker you’ve observed, then you are on your way to building a rich rolodex of experiences. However, you will never know unless you put yourself out there and run the risk of not hitting the mark – that’s practice.
DO NOT STOP! Feet are everywhere, even on the internet. You do not need to have physical feet in front of you to read. If you aren’t in the bodywork world and you don’t have access to live feet, then do a quick search for feet and look at them! There is no excuse now for complacency in building your vocabulary of markers that you have seen with your own eyes. Yes, you may get weird looks from friends, family and spouses along with some foot fetish concerns, but the stories that you can see from just being willing to look at feet will fast-track your growth.
As most of you know, I have been posting pictures of feet for a little bit now and everyone loves the posts. Sometimes the pictures are sent in from other Foot Readers and Reflexologists across the globe, sometimes they are clients of mine that have given permission and other times I’ve just searched for pictures of feet to find a perfect example of what I want to talk about. The resources are indeed out there, you just have to be courageous enough to look for them. Likewise, starting up conversations with friends/family/clients that you normally wouldn’t, based on what you see – it’s about going all in with your studies and progressing to better serve those you will meet down the road.
There is a certain amount of hustle that is present in developing Foot Reading skills. Curiosity will only take you so far and repetition is the bridge between the two states of dabbling and grinding. Continue to talk about, share and explore the world of assessing the feet and seeing someone’s story through their extremities. The skill itself is highly valuable and very unique, but there is no disputing that it works. What happens next is up to you….