Friday, August 19, 2011

How To Do an Energetic Reading for Oriental Bodywork

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This is the type of bodywork I teach in the Oriental medicine portion of our massage program. First we turn symptoms into an energetic picture. Then we decide how to balance the energy in the form of acupoints, meridians and Qi by using Qigong, massage, acupressure, and various tonifying or sedating techniques. We modify all of this into an incredible 1-hour healing massage – specially tailored to our individual client.

It is my goal to make sure that the clients I work with – and those that my students work with - feel incredibly nurtured, cared for, and supported by this type of bodywork. My students are wonderful souls that grow and spread this beautiful art – they learn so much and never cease to inspire me!

Example 1: Client presents with a headache, wants massage which usually helps it go away.

This is an example of my thought process:
Q: Where is the headache?
A: (points to left side of head, occipital area)
My note: Gall Bladder-20 (Feng Chi) is blocked.

Q: Does the pain radiate down your back or up into the head?
A: Up into the side of my head.
My note: Gall Bladder meridian is too full on that side. Excess Liver Qi rises up and affects the left side more strongly. I need to clear the Gall Bladder Meridian and open the Liver Shu Points on the back.

Q: How often do you get headaches like this?
A: Almost once a week. It’s been this way for probably 5 years – just work related stress, you know.
My note: Chronic Liver Qi stagnation from a frustrating job. I expect the Earth meridians (Stomach and Spleen) to be deficient, probably damp. Need to tonify Earth in the lower legs – will use the combination of Spleen-6 (San Yin Jiao) and Stomach 36 (Zu San Li).

This is enough information for me to start the massage. I’ll know more when I actually put my hands on the person and can feel what is going on.

Additional notes:
Lots of stagnation (knots) in the upper traps and levator scapulae – most noticeable energy blockage at Governing Vessel-14 (Da Zhui). This means to me that there is an obstruction of Yang energy. Sometimes in a female, this can mean that at some earlier point in life a man did something traumatic (physically, emotionally, or spiritually) to her. Forgiveness in some form is necessary – possibly forgiveness of the self first, and forgiveness of the spirit-being of the offender. Sometimes in a male, this can mean that there is a frustration and unfulfillment in the Yang energy – for example, feeling as if desired bold adventure that makes you feel alive is gone forever due to present circumstances. Some kind of outlet for bold yang is necessary – a martial arts class would be great. Of course, it could also be something totally different and very unique to the individual. (It is not my place to resolve the issues of forgiveness or unfulfillment that I have noted – I only note them as a reference point. It would be my intention to release the blocked energy and allow a natural flow of events to unfold from that – giving the client complete control over the experience and their own resolution or denial of the energy.)

As I am massaging the arms I feel an energetic tingling in my Lung and Large Intestine meridian. This is telling me that I need to address the Metal energy in the client. I add a Tui Na pain path using the acupoints: Large Intestine 11, 10, 9, and 4.

In the legs, as I suspected, the Spleen meridian feels deficient and empty. I hold Spleen-6 and Stomach-36 together while emitting Qi until I can feel an energetic pulse take form.

At the end of the massage, after opening the Liver Shu points and dispersing the accumulation at Da Zhui the headache is fully released, client leaves very happy.

Example 2: Client presents with anxiety attacks, receives regular massage because it helps.

In this case I will elaborate on the 2 main circumstances I noted and what they meant to me. Note that this is highly specific and individual circumstances may vary. This case study is for example only.

First, I always place my hands on a person’s abdomen to feel where in their body their breath goes – or doesn’t go. This is extremely valuable information and can influence an amazing number of health symptoms.

When I placed my hands on the client’s abdomen, their breathing dramatically changed. It went from being full and deep – very relaxed and almost asleep – to silent – superficial – completely still. This is a very alert and protective breath – fear related – has the feel of being intensely worried on a deep level. Hmmmm………Very interesting. When I release my hands and begin massaging their legs, their breath goes back to full and deep. The client seems completely unaware of what just happened.

On their back, the Spleen Shu Acupoints were stagnated to the size of golf balls. This is a huge blockage of Earth energy – energy of the Center.

When the Center is blocked, the kidneys and heart cannot communicate. On their own, the kidneys resonate with fear. When they communicate (are energetically connected) with the heart, everything is OK – the warmth and strength of the heart keeps the fear balanced. On the other side, the heart needs a strong anchor (kidneys) or it is so yang it floats away and you see things like heart palpitations and disturbed racing thought patterns. You get doom in the kidneys mixed with an out-of-control heart = anxiety.

The blockage of Earth is cutting off the communication between the heart and the kidneys. Whatever this is needs to be addressed first – then we’ll see if the line of communication realigns on its own or if it needs to be repaired. Both are do-able.

So what is it? Specifically I don’t know yet – but it will show itself when it’s ready to be resolved. On a more generic level I know that Earth has to do with how we feel about ourselves, our home, the people we live with, the geographical area where we live, our work, our relationships (on all levels), our relationship with the Earth – and especially the nutrition that Earth provides in the form of food, and even our relationship to the universe and our sense of purpose.

Further bodywork will involve a very nurturing touch, working to gently disperse the Earth stagnation, and ensuring that the heart and kidneys are communicating again. The details of how to do this are part of the “art” of healing bodywork and will vary from therapist to therapist. We might all use the paint of Oriental medicine, but we all paint with a slightly different style, and we can all create our own beautiful painting!

Cynthia McMullen, LMT, is a Master Massage Therapist at The Oriental Healing Arts Center, and is the Oriental Bodywork course instructor for our 800 Hour Massage Therapy Program.  She has been doing this type of energetic bodywork since 1999.

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