Are you seeing red?

Are you seeing red?

Ask Giovanna!

Wendy Reichental and Giovanna Daniele

How are you feeling lately?  Are you feeling tired, irritated, fed up, and angry? If so, you are not alone.  February’s issue is all about how we can curb our feelings of anger with a little help from our feet.  Most often than not, the colour red is associated with anger.  We will investigate how this shows up on our feet. The soles of an angry person’s feet often turn red, which is also a sign of uneasiness or fear.  We will also explore the liver and its connection to anger in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Giovanna, here we are in February and though it is usually synonymous with love and Valentine’s, I thought we would look at anger.  It’s not news that we are all extremely stressed out, and experts have long said that stress has negative long-term health effects. Some symptoms of stress can include loss of appetite, insomnia, headaches, back pains, intestinal issues, increased use of alcohol and drugs, as well as anxiety and anger. Have you been witnessing any of these in your clients?

 GD: Absolutely! My clients have admitted to experiencing everything from aches and pains to more serious conditions like depression. That is why it’s so important to keep stress to a minimum and look after our emotions.  If we can keep our emotions intact and relaxed, the body will usually follow.  It’s easier said than done, but letting go of our anger, resentment, bitterness, guilt, fear etc. and instead of replacing these with positive emotions, like compassion especially for ourselves, acceptance and forgiveness can have a healing effect on our body.

In our field of reflexology, how is the liver related to “anger” and how does reflexology help us when we struggle with angry feelings?

GD: Well, it’s long been proven that a reflexology session calms the nervous system and especially when you are tense and holding on to feelings of resentment and anger, a full session can help your body to relax and bring you back into a state of balance.

To refresh our knowledge – our liver is on the right inside of your abdomen, up under your ribcage. It is the largest solid organ in your body. The liver has many jobs, but the top 3 are cleaning your blood, the liver, and the gallbladder work together to produce bile, which helps us break down foods in the digestive tract, and it stores energy as a sugar called glycogen.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine TCM, emotions are associated with the organs. In TCM, the liver corresponds to the emotion of anger because it is responsible for the harmonious flow of Qi, or energy, in the body.  When the external and internal elements affect this energy of the liver, or when the liver is out of balance or over-worked, that is when there could be a buildup of emotions such as rage/anger, frustration, nervousness, or irritation.

Are you able to see if a person is experiencing a lot of anger or stress just by looking at the soles of the feet?

GD: Yes, it is truly incredible! The balls of the feet will appear slightly red, especially on the right foot, where we find the liver reflex. In reflexology, an area of sensitivity might be visible with a callus, or it might feel hard, tight, or like a bag of sand, crunchy or sharp. Often the client will react and give us feedback that they feel something in that area.  This creates an opportunity to investigate further the reflex associated with the organ or body part. When we come across such an area of sensitivity, it is often a clue that there is some kind of stress or trapped emotion going on in the equivalent region of the body.

Besides a relaxing, soothing reflexology session, are there other tips you have for how we can bring the temperature down so to speak when we are feeling angry?

GD: We are so fortunate to have many options:- simple self-care, such as getting enough sleep, water, nutritious food and exercise, can help.  Some of my favourite ones are those that foster mindfulness and the practice of acceptance. Both support optimal nervous system functioning. Also, slow, deep breaths and self-calming statements.  One I like to repeat is the serenity prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”  And last, it’s also important to be mindful about social media consumption and tune out when needed.

There has been a lot of research done on the benefits of practicing meditation to find inner peace and deal with anxiety and other emotions such as anger, and specifically how it can be incorporated into a reflexology session. Can you expand on this?

 GD: Research has shown that meditation has many health benefits and that even 10 minutes a day, to enjoy a moment of calm can have positive repercussions on your health.  Some studies have shown that some people who meditate have improved memory, longer-lasting positive emotions, and heightened focus during daily life.  Some reflexologists will guide you through 20 minutes of meditation before starting your full reflexology session.  What this will do is quiet your mind and further enhance your relaxation experience.

We know a lot about mindfulness because, as reflexology therapists, we stay focused on what we are doing and know that our interaction has a direct effect on the other person’s energy. Is that a fair statement?

GD: Exactly!  We already provide the client with mindfulness meditation in that we are always aware of what we are doing and being in the present.

Something so important for everyone – as not being in the moment but living in the past or worrying about the future- can create the very anger or anxiety that we are trying to avoid.  As for curbing our anger, it’s something within our control – we have the tools to help us, meditation, reflexology and even some good mantras. Mine is “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” ― Buddha

GD: Brava Wendy!

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