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May 12th, 2018

Huge thank you to everyone who attended last night's 10 year celebration of the Gaia School of Natural Health (and to those who couldn't make it and sent such lovely messages). I was so touched by all your comments, cards and gifts, and that you had all made such an effort to be there with me. Massive thank you to Debbie Hurst for all her help with the evening, and her gifts and kind words too. Here's to another amazing 10 years promoting the wonderfulness of reflexology, reiki and aromatherapy.

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January 16th, 2019

Excited to be teaching crystal reflexology tomorrow - a powerful yet deeply relaxing energy based treatment! #GaiaCrystalReflex

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August 16th, 2019

A meta-analysis of a variety of research sources on aromatherapy found significant positive effect of aromatherapy in reducing pain https://tisserandinstitute.org/learn-more/powers-of-aromatherapy-pain-management-meta-analysis/ .

Essential oils combine well with reflexology. As a reflexologist you could add essential oils to the plain wax or cream you are using in your treatment, and/or you could create a cream, for the client's daily use at home to further aid them. However you must have attended a training course in order to offer essential oil advice. The Gaia School offers accredited one day AromaReflex CPD courses on a limited number of essential oils, or full one year aromatherapy or essential oil diplomas (with or without the massage element) with exemptions for qualified reflexologists.

Update: from 1st May 2020 the popular Gaia AromaReflex CPD course will be available as a live interactive online zoom class. Learners purchase the oils etc in advance so that they can blend them and make AromaReflex balms during the live class. Full details are available here www.gaiaschool.org.uk/aromareflex in addition to testimonials from previous attendees.

Further update: 17th June 2020. I’m thrilled to have been awarded official AOR approval for my Gaia AromaReflex CPD course. As well as this being a valued stamp of approval, AOR members can now gain double CPD points for attending this training.

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October 23rd, 2019

Wow this is amazing! Last Friday my reflexology students (started May 2019) performed a practical observation and Helen Morrison (a Gaia School reflexology graduate) was one of the lucky recipients of a reflexology treatment from one of them. Here is Helen's Fitbit data showing her heart rate throughout Friday. You can clearly see when she was receiving her reflexology (around 10.30am for about an hour), and that her heart rate was lower at that point than when she was asleep the night before!! As Helen also points out, this was in a large hall full of people. There were 21 of us in there and I was stalking around with my clipboard. Imagine how relaxed she would have been in a cosy private treatment room! Lovely proof of how relaxing reflexology is, and when you are in this lovely parasympathetic/relaxation state your body can calm and do its job properly. For all my lovely students and reflexologists - look what a great job you are doing, and especially you Amanda - just look what you did to Helen!

Source: https://www.facebook.com/HelenMorrisonReflexology/

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October 31st, 2019

I love essential oils, and they provide many benefits, but just because they are from plants, and are therefore considered a natural product, does not mean they are safe for everyone to use. I'm therefore extremely concerned by the multi level marketing companies who sell their oils to unqualified and untrained reps who are aggressively marketing them to the public with some quite horrifyingly dangerous advice. You cannot put essential oils in a glass of water and drink it, contrary to what your rep might be telling you. Water and oil do not mix! Therefore the oil floats on the top of the water and can burn your oesophagus and throat as you drink it.

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May 1st, 2020

AromaReflex first runs as live zoom class. Posts around this time were more about advertising. This was on 22nd May:

I've had another enjoyable day sharing Gaia AromaReflex live via Zoom. It works well as an online class as participants buy in the oils beforehand. I hope all the participants have a lot of fun making their new aroma reflexology balms. I'm sure your clients are going to love it!

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July 16th, 2020

Here is a beautiful little statue that I have, of our Mother Earth, Gaia. I love all the tiny animals and plants represented in her hair and across her body.

This week I have been working on my policy documents and instructions for students on how we can be COVID-19 secure within our classroom environment. There is such a lot to think about! But at the heart of all my policies and instructions is the need to be environmentally conscious at all times. The Gaia School of Natural Health will not be recommending use of any disposable or single use items - no wipes, no paper couch roll, no throwaway masks or aprons. Everything will be cleanable and re-usable. And no harsh chemicals either. Just safe, natural effective products to clean and sanitise. We have to remember that in our efforts to protect ourselves and each other from a very serious virus, we do not destroy our planet, and therefore eventually ourselves in the process.

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September 16th, 2020

Hard at work this morning, creating a batch of Gaia School Grounding and Protecting Room Sprays. Infused with grounding and protecting crystal gem essences and essential oils, and charged with pyramid energy, reiki and sunshine! These are suitable for personal use for grounding and protecting yourself on a day to day basis, or for spraying in your treatment room. Always ask your client’s permission, and check for any potential allergies to essential oils. The sprays are available to buy for £10 but do not travel well, so must be collected from the Wirral, by arrangement.

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September 16th, 2020

I also had a busy day yesterday carrying on my investigation into finding a reusable Type II face mask for myself, and to recommend to my students and graduates ........ and SUCCESS! In August the government specified (in their Guidance for Close Contact Services, which includes therapies) that practitioners should wear a visor and Type II face mask, and they defined this as: “Type II face masks are medical face masks made up of a protective 3-ply construction that prevents large particles from reaching the client or working surfaces.”

The consensus reached by most people, and many Professional Associations, (including the Association of Reflexologists) was that the only mask that meets this specification is the single use disposable paper masks (you know the type that you now see lying in the street everywhere, or has been pictured littering our oceans and countryside or wrapped around a defenceless bird – yeah that’s the one). I have already posted in the past about how important it is to me to be environmentally friendly whilst making my teaching space and our treatment rooms COVID secure. As I stated then: “The Gaia School of Natural Health will not be recommending use of any disposable or single use items - no wipes, no paper couch roll, no throwaway masks or aprons. Everything will be cleanable and re-usable. And no harsh chemicals either. Just safe, natural effective products to clean and sanitise. We have to remember that in our efforts to protect ourselves and each other from a very serious virus, we do not destroy our planet, and therefore eventually ourselves in the process.” So being told that I and my students (and all my graduates) had to use a disposable face mask was unacceptable to me.

I spent yesterday conversing with Andy at Breathe Happy regarding their reusable filter masks, and can confirm, from their website, and his information, that their COMMUTER mask is classed as a non-sterile medical device using a 4-ply Type IIR filter. The “R” means it is splash resistant. It has 98% BFE (bacterial filtration efficiency) and meets standards EN 14683:2019. Therefore this mask goes above and beyond what the current government guidance requires. So therapists and other close contact workers who work in the high risk zone, please take note – you don’t have to use the disposable and environmentally very unfriendly masks!

I have already been in contact with the Association of Reflexologists to ask them to review this information and update their official advice. Finally - what is it like to wear? I loved the space around my mouth - cloth and paper masks are touching you whereas these are away from the mouth so don't feel as restrictive. I also feel "safer" due to the full seal around the mouth and nose, rather than being conscious of gaps where you could think the virus might get around the mask. Apart from the lack of glam, the only downside was it got a bit sweaty where it sealed around the face. But this can be a problem with many masks.

Please note I have no affiliations with this company and am not gaining in any financial way from this post. But I’d love to know if you move to using this mask and ditch the disposables as a result of my post so that I can be happy that I have made a useful contribution to saving our beautiful planet. Update October 1st Another re-usable mask! The U-Mask. This one was recommended to me at the weekend and it arrived yesterday and I wore it today in class for several hours. Very comfy, lightweight and easy to talk to the group whilst wearing it. It has a biotech layer that apparently "eats" the virus instead of just providing a barrier to it, so it's actually the rating above Type II - ffp3. It cost me about £40 and the filter lasts for 200 hours of use, then a replacement costs around £20. I'm a fan. I still like the other one, but this one I feel more comfortable wearing to the shops, and I can be heard better by others.

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September 21st, 2020

Our new Gaia School of Natural Health aprons can easily be changed between each client treatment to prevent virus transmission, and are quick to wash and dry. This makes them a cheaper and easier option for use than a traditional tunic. Gaia School students and graduates can find information on how to order them from the welcome page of the school website (see under COVID-19 PPE Supplier Recommendations).

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October 6th, 2020

I’m so happy to announce that my Gaia Reflexology Balms are now available for ordering, and can be posted to you (UK only!) They have been safety certificated by a chemist, as legally required for the sale of “cosmetic products”, and before that they were extensively product tested by two of my Level 5 reflexology diploma groups. After various evolutions, I decided to tailor each blend around a different reflexology treatment focus. The treatment options are tied in with the syllabus of the Level 5 Diploma in Practitioner Reflexology, but of course are valid for all reflexologists. There are 6 different balms available:

  • NEPIP Reflexology (for stress)
  • Subtle Energy Reflexology (including higher vibrational oils to enhance you working energetically during your treatments e.g. using linking techniques, working with chakras and in the auric field, crystal reflexology).
  • Women's Health Reflexology
  • "Soleful" Journey Reflexology (for palliative/long term conditions)
  • Musculo-skeletal Reflexology
  • and an Unscented balm for use with those who are sensitive to essential oils, during the first trimester of pregnancy, or for adding your own essential oils to if you are qualified in AromaReflex or a qualified aromatherapist.

Please see the special webpage for further information, including which essential oils can be found in each wax, and for ordering information:https://www.gaiaschool.org.uk/gaia-waxes

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November 5th, 2020

Is your local wellness advocate telling you of the wonders of essential oils and advising you to "drink" them in a glass of water? PLEASE DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM. Ask to see their qualification in aromatherapy or essential oils and that they have insurance that covers them to advise you to do this. Here's a hint: no insurers in the UK will insure this practice because it is DANGEROUS. Oil and water do not mix – that’s basic physics – due to their different densities. The oil floats in its concentrated form on the surface of the water and damages the sensitive mucous membranes of your intestinal tract as it makes its way through your body. It may damage your stomach lining, destroy your gut bacteria and over time it will create toxicity in your liver. They can also have interactions with a medicine you are taking. This is not a safe way to use essential oils. Please see the graphic below for the percentage of people now being poisoned by drinking essential oils. Your wellness advocate is a sales rep from a multi level marketing company, who wants you to buy their oils. If you want to use essential oils safely at home please consult a qualified aromatherapist or Essential Oil Practitioner. If anyone is advising you to drink essential oils in water then this could be a good indication that they are not professionally qualified.

Am I suggesting that the internal use of essential oils is not a valid modality? No, I am not. But it is done in specific ways, under the guidance of a professional trained practitioner (not an MLM essential oil seller or wellness advocate) and never in a glass of water. I am not going to discuss the various methods further because it is not something for untrained home use. Instead, I will mention that there are various studies that demonstrate that essential oils reach our bloodstream just as effectively via both topical use (always diluted, never neat!) and inhalation. Again, there are safety issues with these methods of application, but that should be the subject of another post.

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December 12th, 2020

This article was first published in the December 2020 edition of “Reflexions”, the magazine published by the Association of Reflexologists.

distance reflexology article

The national lockdown in 2020 was an incredibly difficult time for therapists. Financial hardship and loss of purpose aside, we had to sit on the side-lines, watching our clients struggling, frustrated that we were unable to help them. During this time, a new concept: “distance or virtual reflexology” became much discussed. This proved, for many therapists, to be a chance for us to still offer treatments to our clients, without either of us leaving our homes. For others though, the concept of distance reflexology led to much head scratching or outright disbelief. So, what exactly is distance reflexology, does it work, how would you do it, and is it even reflexology as we know it?

Distance healing is a very well-established form of energy healing. It can be defined as any form of active healing undertaken, where the giver and receiver are not physically present with one another. It is sent, by the giver, across time or space, with the intention that the receiver obtains positive benefits from the experience. Training for many therapies, e.g. reiki, includes the giving of distance treatments, but “distance reflexology” was until this year, virtually unheard of. As a reiki master teacher, I was already very familiar with giving distance reiki treatments and working with energy, but a Facebook post in April 2020 by Dorothea Kreidl discussing distance reflexology, inspired me to evolve my techniques and apply them to reflexology. Within days of several successful sessions, I was able to share my thoughts and encourage some of my own reflexology graduates to consider and try distance reflexology within their practices.

With a distance (or virtual) reflexology treatment, the client is not present in the room with you, and so you are not physically working on their feet. Many other aspects of the treatment remain the same, from the need to do a consultation and gain consent, to the agreeing of your aims for the treatment.

There are many different approaches to reflexology, all of them valid, and the same is true for distance work. My main advice would be to follow your intuition, but I shall offer here some suggestions to help get you started. When you first start doing distance work, it helps to set up your treatment room in the normal way, sit in your usual position, and move your hands in the space that would be occupied by your client’s feet, exactly as if your client was physically present with you. You might benefit from having something available to touch as a proxy, e.g. a pair of plastic model feet, or a teddy bear with large feet - even your own feet if you are flexible enough! Once you are more experienced you may find that you can just sit quietly anywhere and complete the treatment, but initially it really helps your focus to set up your treatment space as you normally would. The use of intention and a focus on the treatment objectives is extremely important in all treatments but is found to be especially helpful for making that distant connection. The client should be encouraged to engage in the process too. You could ask them to imagine healing energy or a beautiful healing white light flowing into them.

It is recommended that you message your client 10 minutes before the start of the treatment. Not only does this serve as a reminder, in case your client has “forgotten” their appointment, but it also gives them the confidence that you have remembered, and that you are fully present and focussed on them and their treatment for the agreed time period.

Spend those last 10 minutes (or longer if you feel you need it) practising your exercises for clearing, centring and grounding yourself, releasing all your mind chatter and breathing slowly and deeply.

At the agreed time, with you sat at your therapy couch, visualise your client reclined in front of you, and reach forward to where their feet would be. I then conduct the virtual reflexology session in a very similar manner to how I would if I was actually touching their feet, with some noticeable differences.

The first difference is I don’t spend as much time on relaxation and mobilising techniques as in a face to face session. A few soothing strokes work to connect with the client.

The second difference is that, because I don’t need a supporting hand, (as there is nothing physically there that needs supporting), I can work bi-manually, with both hands delivering the reflexology techniques, rather than one working, and one supporting.

The third main difference is to do with where I am moving my hands within the space that the virtual feet “occupy”. When I do virtual work, I am not restricted to the surface of the physical body, but instead can also move within the virtual foot, smoothing through the energetic body, or stilling and holding the energy of certain points. Likewise, I also find that I work in a larger space than the physical feet would occupy, also working the energetic layers expanding out from the feet. The idea of working “inside” the space of where a physical foot would be, fits in well with the theory that our reflexes are three dimensional and that some of them are within the foot, not just on the surface of the skin.

As discussed earlier, any method that works for you and your client is the right method, but here are some further ideas and suggestions as to how others perform distant treatments. For the consultation part of the treatment, using a video call with the client allows them to still feel “listened to” by you, and if that connection is vital to either, or both of you, then the call could be left open throughout the treatment. Some therapists find this helps to focus them on their client. Otherwise, you could have a photo of your client on the couch in front of you or ask the client to photograph their feet before and after, so you can compare the changes.

Will I feel anything, and will my client?

Many reflexologists have been sharing with me that they are “feeling more” from a distance treatment, and some of their clients are reporting deeper reactions. This has been my experience too. Without the physical presence of the client I feel I have been able to connect and gain intuitive insights about the client in a deeper way than in a face to face treatment.

Case Study

Client E received her first distance reflexology treatment during the full national lockdown. She asked me for help with her knee which had recently become very painful and difficult to stand on, but she couldn’t pinpoint a reason. I realized as I started the treatment that I had not enquired as to which knee was affected. Early on in the treatment whilst working the lumbar spine area I felt a very strong intuitive pull to work on her kidneys. As I worked them, I felt a deep certainty within me that the kidneys were strongly linked to the issue with her knee, and likewise connected with lower back problems, although she had not mentioned any issues with the lower back. I remembered that the kidney meridian passed through the lower back (psoas muscle) and the medial side of the knee. The emotions associated with the kidney meridian are fear and anxiety, and I intuitively felt that my client’s experiences of these emotions were likely having a negative impact on this whole meridian, leading to physical weaknesses in these certain parts of the body. Energetically, as I worked the left and right knee reflexes, I could feel which knee was affected, and I was also able to check with her later that it was indeed the medial side of that knee, which confirmed to me that my intuition was certainly pointing me in the right direction. We discussed her current fears and worries, and I suggested that she explore some exercises to work on strengthening her psoas, and my insights that they were all connected together with her unsupported knee condition. Client E was amazed by the experience, commenting that she could feel energy moving in different parts of her body throughout the treatment, and that she could really relate to my interpretation of what was at the root of her issue.

Can everyone do distant reflexology?

Yes, but those who already work with energy may find it easier to do at first. However, it is definitely possible to learn to do it, if you wish to. Similarly, it will not be right for every client, but those with an open mind will benefit.

But is this reflexology, or is it energy work?

Some have argued that as reflexology is a touch therapy, work done at a distance cannot be reflexology, but should be viewed as an energy modality. However, the way I practice and teach reflexology is as an energy therapy. So, is this reflexology? Yes, to me it is, because reflexology for me is an energy therapy. When I’m working the feet during a face to face treatment I am reacting to the energy in the feet, rather than any concept of deposits. So, for me, what I am feeling when I am working at a distance, still has much in common with how I work in person. For me, they are both reflexology.

Practical Questions

Finally, a few practical questions.

How long should the treatment last for, and should I charge a client for this session?

I find 30 minutes of hands-on work is generally about right. It can be hard to concentrate and focus if the session runs much longer than this. Again, find what works for you. Yes, you should charge for your time and skill in providing this treatment, but your pricing might be different as you won’t have some costs e.g. washing covers or use of a reflexology medium. One suggestion, when you are new to this work, or it is a new concept for your clients, is to offer them a free “taster” before the option to sign up for further sessions. If you are still hesitant about charging at this point, then allow yourself to accept “donations” from your clients.

Am I insured to carry out distance treatments?

Yes, many insurance companies, including Alan Boswell have confirmed that you are insured under your reflexology cover, as you are providing a reflexology treatment.

For further help and discussion, there is a Distance Reflexology group on Facebook. The best way to get started with distance reflexology is to arrange a treatment swap with a fellow reflexologist, so that you can explore the concept, and see what it feels like to both give and receive. Yes, it is probably very different to how you currently practice reflexology, but one thing 2020 has given us is the chance to think outside the box, to re-evaluate our current practices, and to embrace new ways of working - and that can include your practice of reflexology too!

Carolyn Roberts, CTLLS BSc MA MSc MAR

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February 11th, 2021

Recently I was teaching a class on meridians (via zoom) to a group of 5 reflexology learners, and I asked them to complete an online quiz to determine their dominant “Five Element” type. When four of the five reported they were “Earth” I was intrigued, given that I too had been identified as Earth. As this was quite a small sample, I decided to ask some of my reflexology graduates to do the same quiz to see if this pattern continued. And indeed it did! Out of 31 responses, the results were as follows:

So, what is it about the Earth personality type that tends to draw them to reflexology? According to Hull*, Earth types are “nurturing, understanding, compassionate and have a sense of being grounded and rooted.” Earth personality types usually put the needs of others ahead of themselves. They thrive on feeling wanted and needed, and are very calm individuals. They can be described as the typical Mother figure, looking after everyone else first. In order to be in balance, earth types must make extra efforts to make sure they put time aside to look after themselves as well as others. Earth types value relationships highly, and it is very important for them to find their tribe, and experience a sense of community.

The “Water” element personality also featured as a personality type drawn to reflexology. They are described as self-confident, fluid, vital, intelligent, understanding and courageous. Water types think and feel very deeply, and are good at listening to their intuition. Again, here are some strong features that a therapist requires. Water types can tend to be dreamers and need to work hard to focus themselves, and put their dreams into action. They are said to be good at getting a work-life balance as they appreciate the need for relaxation time as well as work time.

But what of Metal, Fire and Wood? Well, a therapist would also definitely need the patience of the wood type, and the good communication skills of “metal”, and the warmth and caring nature of “fire”, which is all great news because every individual person contains all of the five elements, and like the cycle of seasons in nature, each element relies on and in turn feeds the other elements. We have a dominant element but all of them are an integral part of us.

Fire types find joy in life and are able to develop deep emotional connections with others, and make those around them feel better, just with their presence. Metal types have an interest and connection in the sacred and need to find their life purpose and the value in their work. They are sensitive to the needs and emotions of those around them. Wood types have a lot of enthusiasm and common sense and are very goal driven. They are very creative and will often be lifelong learners.

There are lots of books and websites available which will give you more information regarding Traditional Chinese Medicine and the five elements. I have mentioned a few aspects in regard to our personality types, but knowing your element will give you insights into how you respond to people and situations throughout your life. You can find out which emotion is likely to be dominant for you, and what physical areas might tend to experience health problems. The physical characteristics of each element are also described.

So, am I going to ask all my prospective students to complete a Five Element Quiz and only accept Earth and Water types from now on? Absolutely not – Earth and Water types can be seen to be naturally drawn to therapy work, but other types also become excellent therapists and will bring a different skill set to their career, which might allow them to have a different USP (unique selling point) to all those mother Earth type reflexologists out there!

*Hull, R. (2021) The Complete Guide to Reflexology. 2nd edn. Chichester: Lotus Publishing.

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