Spotlight: Shelley Poland
by Colleen M. Quinn
It’s not uncommon for a healthy lifestyle to be someone’s top priority. We take care of our bodies and muscles by exercising. We brush our teeth regularly. We go to the salon to take care of split ends and dye jobs. So what makes our mental well-being any different? A healthy body needs a healthy mind, especially one that is well rested and free from excessive stress.
With the demands of everyday life, this goal can seem unattainable at times. There are, however, several methods of touch therapy that can help people achieve just that. Reflexology, Reiki, and Healing Touch are different modalities that promote healing through the simple connection of touch. Shelley Poland, a Reflexologist based in Littleton, Colorado, combines these three practices of touch in a unique way to help stimulate physical and mental relaxation.
Although reflexology, Reiki, and Healing Touch are all based on the power of human touch, they are certainly different in their background and technique. Reflexology and Reiki both have roots in ancient practices, while Healing Touch is a much more modern practice.
Poland describes reflexology as “an ancient energy modality,” one that dates back to the time of ancient Egypt. Reflexology is very beneficial, helping boost the immune system, flush toxins from the body, and balance the chakras. This is done, surprisingly, through touching the feet and hands. “It [reflexology] can be done through the hands, but for some reason I prefer the feet,” Poland says with a laugh.
“We forget about our feet a lot,” she says. “We really need to pay attention to them.” She explains that in reflexology, pressure points on the feet and hands reflect different parts of the body. As these points are stimulated, the body’s energy flows more freely, especially through the corresponding body parts of the pressure points. For many people, this feels much like an enjoyable foot massage.
Reflexology also requires intention on the part of the person receiving it; they must be able to picture themselves healing and benefiting from it for reflexology to have an effect. The result, however, is an overall feeling of clarity and relaxation.
In addition to reflexology, Poland uses Reiki. This ancient Japanese practice gets its name from two Japanese words: rei which means “God’s wisdom,” and ki, which means “life energy.” Where reflexology involves applied pressure, Reiki requires a gentler touch. Poland describes it as a “laying of hands;” this is simply placing the hands gently on the body, particularly in areas that are in need of healing or a little extra care. It can be done by a practitioner on another person, or someone can practice it on themselves.
The practice of Reiki also involves controlled breathing, and intention on the part of the person receiving the touch. Mental focus along with the laying of hands makes Reiki a very spiritual experience, says Poland. In fact, physical touch is not always necessary; if a person’s intention is strong or they are very relaxed, moving hands above the body can be just as effective.
Reiki can be used to relieve physical pain in specific areas of the body, but it can also enhance the immune system, flush out toxins, and increase relaxation. The effects, however, are not immediate. Poland says that depending on the person, it can take several weeks to a few months for there to be noticeable differences. When this happens the effects are powerful. Describing her initial experience with Reiki, Poland says, “I felt my crown chakra open up – it was like a pleasant chill throughout my body.”
Poland also practices Healing Touch, which is a modern energy-based modality that is often used in conjunction with other kinds of medical treatments. It is similar to Reiki in that is a form of laying of hands, and focuses on balancing the body’s energies. Healing Touch is often used by registered nurses in hospitals because it is very helpful in relieving pain.
“Healing Touch removes the congestion of pain to let it dissolve,” says Poland. Healing Touch also has a spiritual and emotional aspect, as well as being a relaxing process. Here, too, mental focus and intention are very important to this process. Poland also says it is also used in hospices, because it can ease the dying process.
“If we pay attention, we are all doing this,” she says, “but some of us are more conscious of it than others. That’s why we touch each other – we need touch.” Weaving these three modalities together for a client is what makes Poland unique as a practitioner. Her sessions employ the main components of reflexology, Reiki, and Healing Touch to maximize the benefits for clients. Sessions last about 45 minutes, and at $30 a session, are also very affordable.
Poland begins by holding the client’s feet. In an initial session, this is for Poland to get to know the feet. In later sessions this allows her to familiarize herself with the client’s energy and focus her intention of helping the client heal (Poland recommends returning sessions at least every few weeks to continue healing processes). Using reflexology techniques, she then applies pressure to the client’s feet, according to their needs.
Poland then moves her hands through the air over the client’s body, getting a feel for their body’s energy. She may feel a change in temperature over parts of the body, or an area of resistance; she returns to these areas and with hand movements, and manipulates the energy there. Like a massage to relax and smooth muscles, Poland massages the energies of the body for a person’s overall relaxation and comfort.
As with any of these modalities, it is necessary for Poland to mentally focus on the client’s needs. She outlines the Japanese signs of Reiki over the client, while visualizing the client healing. “I find the chakras and channel the healing energy from the earth to them,” she says, “and I mentally ask the client’s spirit to take what it needs to heal.”
The most important part of any session, however, is the client’s willingness and intention. “I ask the client to be here with me, to let this be a healing session,” says Poland when she is concentrating in a session. It’s essential that clients step back from their ego and come with the intention to heal; otherwise, Poland can only do so much. “I’m not a healer,” she says, “I only provide you with the tools you need to heal yourself.”
Before starting in reflexology more than five years ago, Poland had worked in the high-tech world for about three decades. “I loved it,” she says of her previous work, “But I felt like there was something more for me out there.” Through a friend who was studying massage therapy, Poland first learned about reflexology. Intrigued, she took a class with the holistic health department at Red Rocks Community College.
In her very first class meeting, Poland watched as the instructor helped completely relieve a classmate’s sudden migraine. “I was sold!” she says, and without delay decided to continue studying reflexology and holistic health. Poland is now certified in Holistic Health from the Health Science Department at Red Rocks Community College. She also holds Level II training in both Healing Touch and Reiki, and is continuing her study of reflexology (she is at Level III).
While helping others heal is a great joy for Poland, she says benefits as well from her work. As much as a session is calming for a client, it is the same for Poland. “As a practitioner, this is good for me,” she says, “What clients give back to me is so rewarding. This is what I’m able to give back – this is what I’m here to do.
About Colleen Quinn
Colleen Quinn graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and Mass Communication. A writer for most of her life, she has been writing for Whisperingtree.net for over two years. In that time, she’s had the opportunity to meet with many practitioners and masters of the healing arts. Using her years of customer service experience and time as an intern reporter, Colleen provides a unique means of expression for each practitioner she meets. She believes that honest interest and open ears are paramount for learning and understanding the world around us. Through her writing, Colleen offers readers a valuable insight into the work of those who are doing so much to help others.
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