It is often said that eyes are windows to the soul, but I never knew they revealed the secrets of our body's hidden ailments. That was until this morning, when I had my first experience of iridology, a technique whereby an assessment of the body's strengths and weaknesses is made based on the condition of the irises.
Curious to know more about this mystery practice, I arranged to meet with Jennifer Thompson, a Sydney-born, Philadelphia-raised iridologist and nutritional health coach whose gift for eye gazing and thoughts on holistic healing have been hailed in the pages of Conde Nast Traveler
and Cosmopolitan Hong Kong.
As I sat across from Thompson in the cosy spa at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental and listened to her talk about her 20-year career spent working on the detox circuit in Thailand and Tel Aviv, I grew more eager to discover what hidden truths were lurking behind my irises. After all, her success in her fields has garnered her an impressive list of loyal and wealthy clientele who have been known to "follow her around the world" to seek advice on how to improve their physical and mental conditions.
Would she slap my wrist (so to speak) for not drinking eight glasses of water a day? Would she guess that I have a weakness for weekday Happy Hours? And worst of all, would she bust me for indulging in one too many Cup Noodle benders? One hour later and she had put me out of my misery and given me all the answers.
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Looking into my "dry eyeballs" and my silvery blue irises with yellow flecks, she held a magnifying glass in one hand and a flashlight in the other, putting them down occasionally to make notes on her chart. A few scribbles later she tells me that, above all else, my body is screaming for hydration, my kidneys are having a pretty hard time, my liver is working on overdrive, and my lungs are a bit weak - well, I do live in Hong Kong!
I guess water dodging and weekday tipples do have a lot to answer for.
Lucky for me, however, slapping wrists is not what Thompson is about, and whilst she refuses to diagnose and treat since she is not a doctor, she did suggest that a daily dose of 200mg of magnesium, some dandelion capsules, plenty of water, and a few trips to the steam room would "work wonders" for my health. Not once did she tell me to drastically change my lifestyle or completely cut anything from my diet, a factor that I put down to her being an advocate for the "everything in moderation" school of thought.
In fact, Thompson is very aware that in today's body-conscious world, we have a tendency to beat ourselves up when we struggle to reach our health goals. She is a firm believer that, "We need to give ourselves space to be human" and says reassuringly, "You're not going to go to jail for eating that chocolate bar, and if you push yourself to be perfect, you will only set yourself up for failure, and that will lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and a whole mixture of emotions I like to call 'food swings'".
Diet aside, Thompson is adamant that we need to place more importance on looking after ourselves and knowing when to take "time out" from our busy lives. This is something she appreciates can be particularly challenging in a non-stop city like Hong Kong, where hectic work schedules can often lead to stress and health problems such as fatigue, depression, and even fertility problems. "Your body is an organic being after all, so you need to learn how to look after it. It's all about moderation and balance."
So it's not like Happy Hour has to go completely out the window? I can live with that.
Ready to discover what lies beneath your eyes?
Thompson is available for iridology readings at The Oriental Spa at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental until January 31, 2016. For more information visit the The Oriental Spa website
Learn more about Thompson on her website HealthyBliss.net.
Check out Thompson's tips on How To: Recover from Jet Lag and How To: Become a Healthier Hong Konger
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