A Brief History Of Reflexology

Reflexology dates back to ancient Egypt, as shown by carved pictographs with accompanying hieroglyphics that were discovered by archaeologists in Saqqara, Egypt. The engraved images that were found in a tomb of a physician named Ankhmahor depict two men holding the feet of two other men, with inscriptions that imply that two of them were conversing. The hieroglyphics were loosely translated, thus: “do not let me feel pain,” followed by a response of the person treating the feet, “I will act as you please.”

Medical scholars and historians believe that the precursor to reflexology spread from olden Egypt to the rest of Europe with the help of the Roman Empire. Historical word-of-mouth accounts alleged that Emperor Augustus (back when he was still known as Octavian) once remarked that Roman politician Mark Antony massaged Cleopatra VII’s feet “at dinner parties.”

There is also evidence that some basic, derivative form of physical therapy involving foot massage was a common practice by the Chinese since 2330 BCE. Moreover, North American Indians back in the 17th century were reportedly given the gift of this ancient medical knowledge when it was eventually passed on to them by members of the Peruvian Inca civilization. In turn, these highly advanced ethnic groups from Latin America had practiced this alternative form of medicinal treatment, which dated back as far as 12000 BCE.

No further records of reflexology were known to exist in written form between the time when the ancient Egyptian inscription was written and the period when Europeans colonized America during the 1600s.

With the budget of attempts at empirical studies on the neurological effect of human reflexes in 19th century London, the earliest known historical account of what is known as contemporary reflexology in the Western hemisphere happened in 1913. A doctor who formerly specialized in ear-nose-throat surgery introduced techniques to cut body pain without using chemical medication to mainstream society in the United States. William Fitzgerald pioneered applying therapeutic pressure to particular areas in the foot to cut throbbing in other parts of the body, which enabled him to apply less anaesthesia to his patients when performing minor surgical operations.

Calling his method “zone therapy,” the doctor concluded that applying physical pressure to certain points in the body—particularly the digits of our toes as well as our fingers—lessens the feeling of discomfort by the patient to the point that the routine can be solely used as an effective substitute to anaesthesia. Moreover, not only did it ease the soreness, but it also stopped the source of pain, in essence, the real cause of a patient’s illness.

Eventually, a colleague of his, Dr Edwin Bowers, joined him in publishing a book in 1917 based on the somatic techniques that Fitzgerald helped popularize. Although medical experts at that time initially panned the tome, it was clear that a growing number of Americans have started to explore the possibility of applying alternative means of relieving stress by means of this early form of modern reflexology.

Healing Through Qigong – The Art Of Breathing

The word ‘Qigong’ is made up of the two words ‘Qi’ (meaning breath or gas in Mandarin) and ‘Gong’ (meaning technique or work). Thus Qigong basically means ‘breath work’. Qigong, therefore, is a technique of traditional Chinese medicine involving the regulation and coordination of breathing patterns to ensure good health.

Qigong is believed to be the result of decades of struggle by the Chinese people for survival.

It was noticed that certain breathing techniques used in conjunction with mental concentration greatly improved bodily functions. Qigong has also borrowed heavily from Taoism and Buddhism. Thus religion and spirituality plays a very important role in Qigong techniques. Some forms of Qigong even believe that an individual can attain higher levels of accomplishment only if he is very virtuous.

Traditional Chinese medicine operates on a simple but effective premise – that of ‘Chi’. Chi is the energy or life force that travels through the human body and suffuses all our organs with health and well being. When this flow is blocked or disturbed, there is a disturbance within the system that manifests itself as a disease. According to tradition, all that a doctor has to do to restore good health is to analyze the reasons for the block and to take measures to facilitate the free flow of energy once again.

Qigong teaches an individual to live in such a way that the free flow of energy happens always, so that he is free from diseases. As the two words indicate, Qigong deals with the manipulation of breath to achieve and maintain robust health. This art has found a strong role in the martial arts of ancient China where people had to mobilize energy and stamina in coordination with the physical act of breathing.

This Chinese healing art is an effective form of alternative medicine that uses a series of gentle focused exercises to coordinate the mind and the body. It is believed that most people use only a small portion of the energy within them. Most people get sick because they do not breathe properly. These two facts have been juxtaposed in Qigong, where proper breathing helps bring good health. As such, Qigong is mostly taught for health maintenance purposes. But rarely the doctor also uses Qigong for therapeutic purposes.

In the modern world, millions of people all around the world practice Qigong for maintaining their good health. Qigong and other related arts are still associated with meditation and martial arts. But as opposed to the past, these people are no longer the sole custodians of the intricate techniques involved in Qigong. These techniques have become so popular now that medical Qigong has been officially recognized as a medical technique in China.

The practice of Qigong began nearly 5,000 years ago. Today there are almost 3,000 forms of Qigong. Tai Chi is just one of the more popular forms.
Western medicine accepts that Qigong can improve the overall health and vitality of a person. But the religious connotations that are lying just below the surface have often proved to be a matter of controversy. But there are no two opinions regarding the level of effectiveness of this practice.

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