Article by Marsha R. Drozdoff, MSW
I initially explored the topic of Mindfulness and Feet in 2013; only now 4 months into staying mostly at home due to the Pandemic did Spirit nudge me to revisit this topic. For most of us around the world life as we knew it has changed dramatically due to Covid 19….so have our habits and even hygiene. As one day after another flow together, we may not even bathe as frequently nor perhaps change certain articles of clothing. Even if hair salons are open, we may go less frequently and proudly wear the ‘Pandemic look’ or excuse. I know for me, make up is only put on when I am facilitating a group or teaching a Reiki class on Zoom. Our feet which still support us daily in all of our activities may get forgotten with pedicures or self treatments being a thing in the past. Today I broke that stagnation and did my nails while sitting outside in 100 degree Tucson heat.
I have been facilitating Meditation groups since 2011 following the horrific shooting of our beloved Congresswoman Gabby Gifford; the shooting resulted in serious injuries to herself and others, besides loss of life. A Meditation teacher came to the hospital in which I worked and wanted to start a Meditation group for healing of our staff and the community. She taught me a lot in the 2 1/2 months that we worked together before she generously handed over the group to me.
In Meditation we frequently bring mindfulness to the breath; we follow the breath in and out allowing our minds and bodies to quiet down as we enter that precious state of deep relaxation and restoration. When was the last time that you brought a similar focus to your feet? As babies, we learned much about our world by playing with, manipulating and even putting parts of our feet in our mouths. As toddlers, our feet allowed us to step forward in our lives and achieve new mobility and independence. As adults unless we are living with particular disabilities, our feet have provided us with the gifts of living upright, of running, dancing, participating in sports and navigating on our life’s journey. However instead of respecting and caring for our feet, they are frequently neglected and symptoms related to them may be ignored or minimized. Our feet are far from our eyes, and we therefore seem to keep any mindfulness related to them at a distance.
If you look at a chart on reflexology of the feet, you may be impressed by how one can supposedly access healing and the flow of chi/energy throughout our entire body including our organs and glands by applying pressure to specific energy points and blockages on the feet. When I completed my Social Work training in the late 1970’s, I took a 10 week class in shiatsu massage. During a class session in which we focused our attention and actions on working exclusively on the feet, I was impressed how one could achieve physiological relaxation throughout one’s entire being. When my two beautiful daughters were quite young and we were on road trips, I could calm them down and even help them to fall asleep in the car by rubbing and working on their feet.
Growing up I became aware of feet challenges by observing and continually hearing about the discomfort that my Mother experienced in her feet. Some of you may recall that I have written about my Mother in a prior article published in the Fall 2011 Reiki News Magazine ‘Reiki until the Last Breath’. Mom had chronic problems with bunions and hammer toes, and also had neuropathy and circulatory difficulties during the last decade of her life. She would share how as a young woman she would buy shoes a size too small because of liking the style. Prior to Covid, I would observe how many woman would buy shoes with too high a heel or a style that creates problems with their balance just because ‘they like them‘ ignoring the potential foot, knees, hip or back consequences.
Although I am not obsessed by feet, as a Reiki Master teacher, I automatically tune into issues in others that could benefit from healing (and Reiki in particular). Before the gyms were closed due to Covid concerns, I would find myself noticing feet in yoga before class would begin or even during some yoga postures. Many of the women whom embrace yoga for health and wellness may have beautifully painted toe nails. However, they too may have feet that seem to call out for more energetic rebalancing. This may be more so when one has high or flat arches, prior injuries and surgeries, or swelling from underlying conditions. There may be additional critical issues related to infections and wound care if an individual is also dealing with diabetes.
In my initial Reiki training over 20 years ago, working on the feet was certainly part of the instruction. Perhaps there were 3 or 4 hand positions that were taught focusing on the knees and feet. I often have observed some Reiki practitioners spending some time on the feet while providing mini sessions at community Reiki shares or circles. At my prior monthly Reiki share at our Medical Center, I reinforced to my students the importance of including the hips, knees and feet in sessions whenever possible. We even occasionally would devote a group session in which my students would work exclusively on each other’s feet and then share their observations and feedback.
Over time I questioned whether my Reiki students and colleagues were consistently doing Reiki on their own feet during self-treatments and were they also routinely doing Reiki on their clients’ feet during treatment sessions. I decided to send out a questionnaire some years ago to non Reiki trained individuals regarding their mindfulness about issues related to their hips, knees and feet; I wanted to explore what interventions they have used to address issues once they were identified. I also sent out questionnaires to some of my Reiki students who received their Reiki training with me at the Cancer Center as well as Reiki colleagues in the community to explore their Reiki practices related to hips, knees and feet. Most individuals without Reiki training denied issues with their feet except for an occasional challenge with ingrown toenails. One 72 y.o. woman who has bunions and ingrown toenails stated that her coping strategies included: getting a good foot massage which “is hard to find”, being mindful of the shoes that she wears and seeing a podiatrist when needed. In some of the responses from Reiki trained individuals, many were incorporating doing Reiki on their knees or feet into their self treatments, though not necessarily on their hips. One 60 y.o. Cancer survivor stated that she does not focus at all on those areas and simply sees a podiatrist every few years. She was however mindful about not wearing heels all day and night and would try to do extra Reiki on her heart chakra as an overall part of her healing and self-care. One 66 y.o. male Cancer survivor with a history of Prostate Cancer had ingrown toenails and sometimes sore and aching feet from “over use”. His observation was that his feet felt softer and smoother since doing Reiki on them. He frequently had a ‘strong reaction’ to the Reiki on his feet. This gentleman worked on himself 2x/day; he also did Reiki on his knees but not on his hips. Another Cancer Survivor with Lymphoma stated working on her knees regularly because of meniscus and arthritis issues. She also worked on her husband who had recurrent squamous cell Cancer on his toe requiring amputation. Both she and her husband reported that with Reiki there was a decrease in pain, decrease in anxiety before the surgery, an increase in relaxation and that healing seemed supported by these sessions.
On a trip to Turkey, I unexpectedly had an informal Reiki clinic on the bus. Some individuals had sore feet from all the walking on the tour through magnificent ruins and others had prior issues that were now exacerbated by the additional activity. One participant had had an accident 30 years before that finally required surgery on her foot and ankle; with Reiki, the symptoms that were still problematic became more manageable. The positive results surprised these individuals so much that they considered taking Reiki training for themselves. They were also delighted how not only were the physical issues lessened but the residual underlying fear and grief issues that had been in their systems seemed to shift and be released.
In summary, doing Reiki on our feet has the potential to enhance our healing and to heighten our state of well being on all levels. These are a few of my recommendations (some which you can incorporate while we are dealing with physical distancing…others hopefully when we can return to in person practices):
- If you are Reiki trained, remember to work on your feet on a daily basis. I begin and end each day drawing the Power symbol and the Karuna symbol Rama on my feet for grounding. I also do this before and after each yoga class; at this time, yoga classes for me are solely on line. If you are working on a client or participating in a Reiki share remotely until we can safely meet together in person, include the feet in each session whenever possible. If I am giving a mini or full session and time permits, I generally like to include working on the hips, on the thighs which connect with the root chakra, the knees, ankles and feet.
- If your client is sitting on a chair as in a mini session, never compromise your own well being while working on feet; be mindful of your posture and your own physical needs. One colleague would put her clients’ feet up on another chair so she could more easily work on them. One of my students put her clients’ feet up on her lap when she is sitting in front of them. One older student in her 80’s with arthritis has been encouraged to direct Reiki with and thru her eyes and avoid trying to reach down to the feet.
- Although there may be specific points with reflexology related to working on the feet, with Reiki the energy will go where it is most needed. Take a few minutes to meditate or to be guided where on the feet to place your hands. I love to feel the subtle energy shifts and ‘pops’ when the Reiki is helping to rebalance the physical structure and energy flow.
- Even though many Reiki students and practitioners may not have been taught to include the hips in a Reiki session, I believe that the hips need attention as well. If you or a client has had hip replacement surgery in the past, remember that medically it is recommended for that individual to not cross their legs.
Feet that are cared for may promote greater health, comfort and well being for all stages of life. Take a moment to mindfully greet your feet each day with Reiki and even include them in your Reiki ideals: I give thanks in gratitude for my feet!’
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Marsha R Drozdoff is an Usui and Karuna Reiki® Master, a Social Work-er, and a Mindfulness and Energy Circle/Reiki Share group facilitator. She teaches Reiki classes. mentors Reiki students and practitioners, and also volunteers at PACC doing Reiki and massage on dogs. Marsha can be contacted at Marsha@DesertReikiConnection.com, through her website at www.desertreikiconnection.com or by phone at (520) 982-6721.