|A great healer is one who possesses great loving energy. Dr. Njideka N.
Olatunde is no doubt one. The founder and director of Focus On Healing, Inc. (Institute), based in Washington, DC, she has been practicing reflexology for
over 15 years. One of a few African Americans on the cutting edge of
reflexology, Dr. Olatunde has written an invaluable self-help guide entitled
Reflexology Today - A Family Affair. In it she leads us to that healing space
Dr. Olatunde has also participated in several traveling delegations to study
traditional medicines. She was the first African-American woman and
reflexologist invited by the Director of Reflexology Association of China and
the Reflexology Society of China to study their most current research,
education, training and medical treatments. There was a special focus on
traditional Chinese medicine including reflexology, acupuncture, Tai Chi and
Now Dr. Olatunde has extended her focus to a region closer to home, Cuba.
Wellness Exchange 2001 and Focus On Healing, Inc. has organized the first
African-American and Hispanic Healthcare Practitioners delegation to travel
to Cuba in October 2001. She explains that he purpose of this trip is to
study the integration of complementary/alternative healthcare with
conventional medicine. "The study of healthcare systems in Cuba can provide
some valuable information and lessons that can be beneficial and useful for
the undeserved populations in urban and rural America," said Dr. Olatunde,
the delegation's leader.
Here is a Q&A session I conducted with Dr. Olatunde after experiencing her
healing and relaxing touch for myself.
ASANTEWAA: Thank you Njideka for sharing with me your gift of love! Please
tell us what or who inspired you to "focus on healing" with reflexology?"
DR. OLATUNDE: I had a mentor name Sun Bear, a Native American, whom I had the
opportunity to study with. He was very involved in protecting the Earth. I
thought originally that I was going to be a herbalist. He told me that there
is more to healing than just the herbs, to look to my hands. Perceiving that
to be massage I went to massage school. I found that I liked working on the
hands and feet. Another major opportunity was receiving training in West
Africa. Since my childhood, healing has always been the essence of my being,
from my family to growing up in a neighborhood of a community of healers. It
really came to me; I didn't come to it.
ASANTEWAA: What is reflexology?
DR. OLATUNDE: It is the art of working specific areas of the hand, feet or
ears, which correspond to all organs and parts of the body, to improve
circulation and elimination. It is the first and oldest modality. The first
tools that (wo)man had were their hands. The oldest documentation was found
in Egypt. When these energy points are contacted, they unblock congestion in
the corresponding region of the body. I'd like to point out that reflexology
is NOT a massage.
ASANTEWAA: That leads me to my next question. What is the difference between
reflexology and massage?
DR. OLATUNDE: I love that question. When you see a reflexologist working on
the hands or feet, visually it looks like they are giving a hand or foot
massage. In reflexology you are working the nerve endings. This means that
you are working on the nervous system. With massage you are working soft
tissue, the muscular system. Through the hands and feet you can activate the
whole body. The reflexologist works specific reflex points to relieve the
stress and pain of the body.
ASANTEWAA: What are some of the benefits of reflexology?
DR. OLATUNDE: Reflexology brings harmony and balance to the body. It improves
circulation and provides energy. It helps to relieve stress and pain of the
body by fully relaxing it. Touch is important, it gives and heals.
ASANTEWAA: How long should one expect to wait before seeing benefits from
DR. OLATUNDE: A session can last one day or it can last a week. The nervous
system is the message center. Therefore, whatever messages the nerve endings
are sending that they are in need of that is what the reflexology session
will do. With every session the body can have longer periods of relief, from
four minutes to four hours or forever.
ASANTEWAA: When is the best time to undergo reflexology?
DR. OLATUNDE: Reflexology is a preventative approach to healthcare. It is
good to include it in your wellness maintenance program. You do not want to
use it in a crisis situation. You want to use it to maintain optimum health.
I'd like to see one member in every household know some basic reflexology
techniques from the standpoint of it being a first aid tool. I say this
because then it can be used in dealing with crisis intervention. From example
if you have a headache you'd be able to use it as a pain management piece.
Dr. Olatunde's book Reflexology Today - A Family Affair, is a perfect
introduction to the practice and benefits of reflexology. And for a more
hands on approach she also coordinates classes that will guide you through
the step by step process.
In the meantime, the Wellness Exchange delegation is busy preparing for their
trip to Cuba from Oct. 27 to Nov. 7, 2001. They will share and exchange
information and techniques with healthcare practitioners in Havana, Holguin
and Santiago de Cuba. Dr. Olatunde informed that these three provinces were
selected because they have successfully integrated traditional healthcare
approaches such as acupuncture, herbology, massage, tai chi and reflexology,
with conventional medicine. The three provinces are located in urban and
rural areas that are quite similar to cities in America.
The delegation extends a special invitation to healthcare groups,
organizations and programs that serve the African-American and Hispanic
populations to send a representative to travel with the Wellness Exchange 2001 delegation to Cuba. For more information about reflexology, classes or the delegation call 301-779-8005 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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