Excerpt from chapter four in: A Catholic Response to the New Age Phenomenon by the Irish Theological Commission in 1994. To see the contents of the whole chapter, click here.
"New Age Movement" is abbreviated as NAM.
This is press point therapy applied to the feet in a type of foot massage. Many Christians are using it with good effect to help reduce tension and stimulate healing. When carried out by a competent person who is properly trained, such as a nurse, it can be quite beneficial. But when it is done in seminars given by NAM people, you will be also offered the philosophy of the NAM. You will be told that the relaxation achieved does not last unless you are handling your other life problems, which is true. Then you are invited to join in other NAM exercises and the reflexology becomes an entrance into the NAM for you.
Samuel Pfeifer MD has written a book called Healing at any Price? (1988). It deals with the hidden dangers of alternative medicine. In chapter 5 he deals with reflexology, calling it 'laying hands on the feet'! He points out that the origins of reflexology go back to Chinese and Indian traditional medicine. Therefore it was developed out of the philosophy that is the source of acupuncture. As a medical doctor he challenges the theory of the energy zones in the feet, but believes that there are psychological reasons why the therapy has a good effect on the patient. After all, they are cared for delicately and personally by a compassionate person for an hour, and many people would lack, and feel the need for this kind of personal attention. Besides, the action in itself is soothing, and therefore helpful to the stressed person.
This comes from ancient Chinese medicine. It is discussed by Samuel Pfeifer in chapter 4 of his book. This is the use of needles to stimulate healing in a wide range of illnesses, and also to enable people to have an operation without an anaesthetic. It operates on the Chinese concept of the life energy or Chi (often referred to in Yoga circles here in Ireland as Ki). The philosophical thinking behind acupuncture comes from Taoism and the concept of Yin and Yang, and of being at one with the forces in the universe through meditation.
Pfeifer quotes the Taoist philosopher George Ohsawa, the father of macrobiotics, as saying that 'oriental medicine cannot be separated from its philosophical underpinnings' (p. 32). Yet he shows that western therapists think that they can turn acupuncture into a purely 'pins and needles' affair. The NAM has no difficulty with acupuncture because it accepts the eastern philosophy behind it. But what about Christians? Can they accept the help and not be affected by its religious content? Many believe they can. The general principle in this matter is that these practices are not bad in themselves, and dissociated from their original context can be practiced by Catholics with due discretion.
Pfeifer also challenges the results of acupuncture. He says that the results of scientific tests are confusing, indicating that the results are coming from a variety of factors, including a patient's belief in the therapist. If you are interested in acupuncture then read up on the subject and have an informed opinion on it. Do not allow NAM groups to use it to 'rope you in' to their way of life.