If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Maya Angelou

What can a rugby player’s foot teach us about the pandemic? The fallout from Covid-19 has forced us to make major changes to the way we approach our reflexology practice. This prompted me to look back at an early lesson I learnt in my career as a reflexologist. A sports coach referred a 20 year old professional rugby player to me who had fractured two metatarsal bones in one foot and had badly bruised the other. It was impossible to work on his feet so, for the first few sessions, I gave him hand reflexology, which had the added advantage of working all the Ingham Referral Areas for the feet. He presented with good rehab results and, as soon as I was able, I began to give him reflexology on his feet instead. After a couple of appointments he said, “Do you get the same results on the feet and the hands, as I prefer you working my hands?” I assured him that hand and foot reflexology could equally produce the same results and, from then on, he always received hand reflexology. It was a lesson for me in not making assumptions about what adaptions my clients may or may not like. As a novice reflexologist, I had wrongly judged that a young man would not be too keen on an older woman sitting beside him working his hands! He enjoyed the experience, and rightly could not have cared less about his proximity to the therapist and felt that reflexology appeared to be accelerating the healing process. It had never even crossed my mind to ask him which sort of reflexology he preferred once he was recovered enough to make that choice!
So now, many years later in these times of Coronavirus, we are all facing great changes and decisions on how to second guess what our clients will find acceptable while still strictly maintaining the new PPE guidelines. Our first priory, as responsible professionals, is to protect our clients, ourselves and the wider population yet still offer them the tranquil, relaxing environment they have always enjoyed. Social media forums have offered much discussion and debate on: will certain clients be put off if we wear a visor as well as the statutory mask, will they object to being given hand sanitiser on arrival, will our treatment rooms seem cold and clinical now the soft furnishings are removed, how can we enforce the imperative mask wearing for clients since August 8…and so on? Yet, as my colleagues returned to work, I was delighted to see many comments on Facebook saying that they were pleasantly surprised to be back offering the work they love. It was heartening to hear that, despite several issues, they had positively adjusted to the new regime and their clients were appreciative, flexible and co-operative regarding the many new protocols. My experience with the young rugby player helped to give me confidence to work with a client, be more imaginative in what I had to offer but also to be more sensitive to their needs.

A memorable chance encounter with Body Shop’s Anita Roddick

We are all striving for improvement. Is not being open to change more important? Without change, there can be no improvement”.
This quote comes from “Collected Treasures” by Hanne Marquardt, the inspirational reflexologist who has challenged and changed reflexology practice for the better and to whom I dedicated my book,Vertical Reflexology for Hands.
In the mid-1970’s, I was walking through the little back streets of Brighton when I wandered into a new shop that had opened the day before. The young woman owner enthusiastically showed me the cosmetic and bathroom products she had made in her pressure cooker, bath and bowls and I bought a lovely pot of cucumber face cream. I admired the green trellis on the walls and she said that it was carefully arranged to stop the plaster falling off! She told me her opening had been challenging as 2 undertakers, whose premises were adjacent to her shop, accused her of disrespect for calling her enterprise: The Body Shop! However, their bigotry had given her much needed good publicity and support! I wished her well and became a frequent customer. Nearly 30 years later at a literary festival I again met up with the now Dame Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop empire, and we discussed our early meeting. She was delighted I had remembered the crumbling shop walls, wonky trellis and more than a little chaos of those early weeks. Her work to promote human rights, environmental issues and natural products continued until her untimely death in 2007. I recently found her signed book on my bookshelf. It simply said,
To Lynne, Challenge everything

May 2019

The power of the therapeutic touch

As a reflexologist in a residential nursing home for over 25 years, I work with many older people who are dying but had never had feedback before. A client, in her late 80’s, had been in the last stages of life for 36 hours and was sleeping deeply with no response. She had been held by her family and made comfortable by the medical staff. I had treated her for 3 years and she knew my touch well as I held her hand. To my surprise she murmured 3 times, “Touch my feet”. The nurse was equally as surprised but allowed me to give her some very gentle reflexology. She became less restless and the next morning woke and asked for something to eat. At first the family thought I had performed some sort of miracle and that she would now recover. It was, of course, not to be but the family had an opportunity to say their goodbyes before she drifted back into her final sleep. That morning I had asked her if she recalled me working on her feet. She said she vaguely remembered feeling a strong desire for her feet to be firmly touched “for comfort”. Reflexology is a gift to share on tiny babies right up to the last breaths of old age.

June 2018

The Kindness of Strangers

The great cry is always that “time is money” and yet it so important to focus on giving out as well as receiving. We never know when an act of kindness will have a long term effect. In fact, many years ago broadcaster Kate Adie wrote her autobiography which was called “The Kindness of Strangers”. About thirty years ago I attended evening reflexology classes at Neal’s Yard in Bristol as a taster and had subsequently decided I wanted to train professionally but was still investigating where to study. Then a chance meeting changed the course of my enquiries. I was staying away at a hotel spa and, for a treat, booked a massage. The masseur was also a reflexologist and after my hour session she freely gave up half an hour of her time to tell of me training opportunities and gave me a reflexology chart and contact addresses. She recommended Anthony Porter who was in his last year of teaching an excellent Diploma Course for the International Institute of Reflexology (IIR) before founding his teaching organisation, Advanced Reflexology Training (ART). It was the best move I could have made.

Over the years I have encouraged students to always be ready to share their knowledge and time, and have mentioned to classes what an important meeting that was on my career path. Then, over 15 years following that chance meeting, I was a speaker at an Association of Reflexologists conference at Warwick University conference. I was shown to my gala meal table and met a group of reflexologists who were strangers to me. The woman seated beside me said she was pleased to meet me as she was fascinated to learn more about VRT and this was one of the main reasons she had attended the conference. I thought she looked vaguely familiar and, when I heard her unusual first name, I asked her is she had worked as a masseuse/reflexologist in a certain spa hotel in the Midlands 20 years ago! She said she had, and was amazed to learn that she had treated me and that I had acted on her good advice regarding my choice of reflexology diploma. She, of course, had no recollection of me at all as I imagine she often generously gave of her time. I was delighted to be able to thank her in person for setting me on a career path that led to the development of Vertical . What an extraordinary co-incidence!

June 2015

Helping a baby with reflexology on a long haul flight.

Many years ago I was on a long haul flight to Australia for a teaching tour and the sleeping passengers were awoken to the lights coming on and a baby screaming. Reflexologists have wonderful transportable, readily available skills to offer with no equipment necessary and I have always felt that in emergency situations we should offer them, but with discernment. The usual request went out for a doctor or medic to make themselves known and 3 passengers went up but the screams continued unabated and I wished I could help. My husband suggested to me that I offer my skills as I teach reflexology for babies but I knew that at least 2 doctors were with the tiny child. However, his next words taught me a lesson that I have never forgotten. He said, “G.P’s sometimes send parents and babies to you and yet you hesitate to intrude? The worst that can happen to you is that you will be rejected. Surely you are strong enough to take that?” I instantly pressed my call button and spoke to an air steward. By then any extra help was warmly welcomed! The 6 month old child was hot, rigid and wailing. I took her tiny feet, avoiding the toes, slipped my fingers either side of the diaphragm and, with a scissor-like movement, gently rocked each foot. I worked the plantar in a soft rotational brush with my thumb. I then began to work the spinal reflexes and the babe immediately relaxed and gave a last piercing scream. For a worrying second her face went grey, then red then a normal flesh colour and she stopped crying completely . I was asked what I had done. I replied that I guessed the top of her spine/neck was compressed or in spasm possibly causing a violent headache and that maybe reflexology had helped to release the contraction. The young mother sheepishly replied that I could be right as her two year old had hit the baby on the head with a picture frame before they left for the airport “but she then seemed to be OK”. I can only assume that the pressure had built up in the baby’s neck to an intolerable level. We all advised the mother to take the baby to an airport doctor on arrival. The infant then had a feed and a relaxed sleep and the following 4 hours of the flight were calm and uneventful. Here is link to a little video where I demonstrate the scissor action of Diaphragm Rocking to help calm a baby.

October 2019

A Christmas Gift

A literally touching moment with a client, in her late 80’s, in the late stages of dementia: I have been giving Mrs Y reflexology for several years and communication is now almost impossible. Last year, during a hand session, Mrs Y suddenly took my hand and began to give me reflexology. She walked her thumbs back and forward across my hands exerting pressure and stimulating every centimetre, just as she had experienced with me. Despite her extreme cognitive impairment she had observed and registered these moves and wanted to help me. This continued for 5 minutes until she had worked both hands and I asked a carer in the residential home to take this photo. Mrs Y is now very fragile and much more withdrawn but two weeks ago she took my hands and tried once more to press and work all the reflexes! I was so moved and, as I thanked her, she looked me straight in the eye and gave a most lovely smile. She then retreated back into her quiet and confused world. To me this was a real Christmas gift.

January 2018