By Monica Anthony
The Fulcrum, Issue 82 January 2021
I first came to work with feet whilst a professional musician and the musical correspondences of resonance, consonance and dissonance came easily as a useful language. Steiner wrote that one day we will tune the body like a musical instrument and I have always felt the truth of that. A fundamental note with harmonics best describes the subtle tones that can emerge.
Feet definitely found me rather than the other way around. While still playing the oboe professionally, I walked to a health shop to buy yoghurt and came out holding a book. It was a very slight volume with a red plastic binding, a picture of a hand and a foot and the title Pre Natal Therapy and the Retarded Child by Robert St John. Robert was a naturopath who had worked with children with special needs for many decades, hence the terminology of that era. At the time, I wasn’t interested in therapy, children at any stage of development or feet, and will never know why I picked it up. I read it on the way home and, some months later, whilst assisting on a stand at the first Festival for Mind and Body in 1977, found Robert’s stand nearby. I joined his class on the strength of that synchronicity and absorbed working with feet in a very subtle way.
St John also called his work Metamorphosis, illustrating the transformative effect his unique method of working had on everyone. He used gentle touch along the line of the spinal reflex points on the feet, hands and head, and the direct correspondences he had found with those points and our development from pre-conception to birth give insight into deep-seated behaviour patterns, helping to achieve innate potential. In the class, we learnt to act as catalysts for each person’s process, freeing up blockages to allow self-healing to take place.
I started by working with any foot that came my way and they landed regularly in my lap: on the sofa at home, on uncomfortable chairs in breaks in orchestral rehearsals; old and barefoot-worn, tiny and newly minted, challenged by unforgiving footwear, or suspiciously smooth and unused to exposure.
I found that the feet can cover the whole range of physical and emotional maps, thought patterns and a sense of the spiritual path.
What had struck me right from the beginning was how, as I touched a foot, I felt immediately plugged in to my intuition in a much more embodied way than previously. With time, this experience developed: an image, a word or sound, a sensation, or a magnetic feeling would arise and, while it was interesting and informative to look up and reflect on correspondences later (in Reflexology maps or those of Acupuncture meridians), I found the patterns revealed themselves more easily with noticing rather than analysis. They are quite simply ‘there’ to be found in the feet and, by not consciously seeking them, I am constantly rediscovering them with a fresh eye.
This was ten years before I set up my practice as a healer and hypnotherapist and fourteen years before qualifying as a craniosacral therapist in 1991. However, I had already experienced CST and it seemed as though one part of me had found another part and conspired to lay down foundations for what has become a life-long relationship with feet.
When I moved to the country for a few years, feet began to upstage the oboe along with other aspects of healing. I gradually formulated my own approach: Holistic Foot Massage, eventually renaming it Feet as a Gateway to Intuitive Healing. Building on the foundation of the spinal reflex points and their resonances, I expanded into working with the chakras, the whole craniosacral system and some subtle layers beyond words. I found that the feet can cover the whole range of physical and emotional maps, thought patterns and a sense of the spiritual path. Of course, there are people who deeply dislike having their feet touched and I respect that completely. One way around this aversion can be to hold the ankles, which usually have a great deal to say.
It seems that feet don’t lie. Many times I have found that they tell a different story from their owner who believes, for instance, that his or her problem lies in the pain in the lower back, but my fingers shoot up intuitively to the occiput and jaw area – like the return carriage on an old fashioned typewriter. On deeper questioning, it transpires that there was indeed an incident involving the neck or jaw which the client has not thought relevant to mention, often because many years have passed in between.
There is a sense of both minute detail and of the bigger, sometimes vaster, picture. Working with feet is naturally, effortlessly grounding, yet an almost cosmic aspect can open up, showing us that we can develop both individually and as part of the wider universe at the same time. Often a finger-width of an area on the foot can feel quite different, especially along the spinal reflex. Rather than working directly on it for any length of time, a more effective approach is to invite energy to flow through it, trusting the innate wisdom in the system, the inherent health, to complete the pattern in a new and more life-enhancing way.
This focus on feet is particularly helpful when working with traumatised clients, as it evokes an inherently stabilising and integrating energy.
The feet can also take on the true nature of the whole person’s experience, which is apparent when someone has had, say, a serious alcohol or drug problem. When I close my eyes I have the experience of working with thin air: no foot, completely disembodied. After a while, the nervous system shows itself and eventually becomes clothed with more and more substance so that the visual impression of the feet and my felt sense of them match and comes into focus. The client often finds that he or she has much more energy and a stronger sense of his or her own identity in the world.
Frequently, the feet reveal the emotional and/or psychological level and enable the client to reconnect with a life strand that has been lost or left behind, such as an important source of love in early childhood. For instance, I might find myself ‘seeing’, instead of my client’s actual feet, the gnarled feet of a very old woman. I accept them without comment and after a while they smooth into their habitual shape, yielding up for her a vivid memory of her grandmother who had died when she was very young. Then I can share what I have been privileged to witness.
This focus on feet is particularly helpful when working with traumatised clients, as it evokes an inherently stabilising and integrating energy. I find I can be both profoundly present and at the same time at a comfortable distance so that the touch involved does not feel invasive even to the most hypervigilant and sensitive system. I often start a craniosacral session by listening to the feet with my hands and responding to what they find with fluid and subtle movements, which build around a sense of stillness. This leads seamlessly into the rest of the treatment.
The quality of this work always brings me back to my original starting point: working as if I am tuning a beautiful and valuable musical instrument. Thus, for me, feet are a gateway to a continuous process of intuitive discovery, holding all of our nature and experiences safely and enabling us to maintain nourishing and supportive contact with our environment on many levels.
Monica is a Craniosacral Therapist, and UKCP registered Transpersonal Psychotherapist with a background as a musician. She also offers postgraduate workshops.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of the CSTA.