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Chi Nei Tsang - Taoist Healing - Hara Shiatsu

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by Kris Deva North

Chi Nei Tsang, a branch of Taoist medicine, was introduced to the West by the Taoist Master Mantak Chia. It is a method for releasing the toxic winds of emotional energy, which can be either the cause or effect of sickness.

Chi Nei Tsang Training

Chi Nei Tsang Practitioners (look for initials CNT after the name)

How to Learn Chi Nei Tsang

Energy blockages arising from organ obstructions and congestion in the abdomen can result in knots and tangles at the centre of the body’s vital functions, impeding the flow of Qi, the life-force or bioelectromagnetic field described by Deepak Chopra as energy-intelligence. Emotions such as fear, anger, anxiety, depression and worry are related to different organs. When the Qi of an internal organ is in a state of imbalance, it emanates toxic wind. Diagnosing the energetic condition, the Chi Nei Tsang practitioner uses intention and touch to influence the participant’s Qi and "chase the winds".

Wind is an energetic vibration which, whether toxic or the vital source of life, enters the being through the "mountains", which include the pointed bones of the nose, coccyx, fingers, toes, knees and elbows. Winds drain out through "marshes" such as the anus, vagina, eye of the penis, pores of the skin, mouth, armpits, backs of knees and front of elbows. The mouth, navel, palm, sole and perineum are among the two-way conduits. A practitioner disperses or directs winds through marsh or mountain, often using supplementary meridians or points.

When obstructed the internal organs store unhealthy energies than can overflow into other systems and manifest as negative emotions and sickness. In search of an outlet these toxic energies create a cycle of negativity and stress, festering in the organs and overflowing into the abdomen, the body’s garbage dump. The energetic centre of the body at the navel becomes congested and cut off from the rest of the body.

Experiment: sitting upright, relax shoulders, relax posture so the abdomen is soft. Place the tip of your middle finger in your navel. Gently, and very slowly, keep the finger rigid and push inwards towards your spine. How far can you comfortably go? When the finger can penetrate to the front of the spine, without pain, you are clear, free of the physical residue of long-past emotions.

Where do you feel your emotions? The knot of worry, the slithering eel of fear, the ache of desire, the heat of anger, the butterfly of anxiety? They are intensely physical feelings, are they not? In and around your belly. What is happening? Your being is energetically convulsed. The Qi, linking mind and body, rushes through the channels like a hot torrent or a sliver of ice, the feeling as quick as thought, energy-intelligence in action. Nerves twist and tighten, cells react, connective tissues writhe, distorting the fasciae of capillaries, veins and arterioles, muscles and organs.

Such intensity of feeling cannot be sustained. Storms blow over, leaving after-effects. Knots, tangles and lumps remain in the abdomen - long after the rational self has "dealt with" the emotional condition - reinforced by repetition, layer of distortion upon layer, added to by every feeling, the older the deeper, impeding the Qi, stagnating.

By working in the centre, the practitioner addresses the core of a condition in its deepest hiding place, the junction of the meridians’ internal routes; the points of energy infusion; the vortices of the abdominal energy-centres; and the residence of the deities of the internal universe: the major organs in their membranous sacs of protective and connective tissue, attached to and suspended from the spine and edged by ribs, hips, pubis and sternum, and beating with life.

The great arterial aorta runs through, bifurcating at the centre, pumping blood out to the distal parts while a cavernous vein passes the other way lifting used blood back to the heart for recycling, and the vagus nerve runs the communications. A mass of tubes, bladders, reproductive organs pack the spaces, attachments and connections with mesenteric arteries, arterioles, veins and capillaries, lymph nodes and nodules, tendrils of nerves, endocrine glands, muscles in broad sheets near the surface and the deep chunky psoas providing a tensile connection between spine and femur. Fatty tissues like rows of sweetcorn and bunches of small grapes cling to the sides of tubes and organs, and the whole and each part down to the smallest cell is protected and connected by webs of fasciae - the connective tissue, from the diaphragm to the perineum, from the centre to the limbs, from the navel to the wrists and ankles. Connective tissue is the common network for bodily systems and energy pathways.

Experiment: grab a handful of material of the clothes you are wearing, around the navel area, and twist. Feel where the tension goes. See where the material distorts - what is the most distal point? Imagine the turmoil inside, when just the surface tension is so dramatic - traumatic?

Treatment requires preparation: "opening the wind gates"; centering, balancing and flushing the circulatory system, and detoxifying the lymphatic system. Toxic winds are thus provided with both physical and energetic escape routes. These preparatory processes may be spread over a series of treatments as clinical experience has shown it counterproductive to detoxify in one session more than the body can eliminate - the healing crisis can be too severe.

Escape-routes clear, work can begin on the organs themselves or any knots, tangles and lumps found in the abdomen. Treatment includes visual diagnosis of the navel centre for signs of pulls towards areas of congestion, scanning with the palm (PC8) the winds emanating from the organs, use of intention, focussed massage, and specific therapeutic meditations such as the Healing Sounds which help cool and detoxify. Visualisation by the participant helps the profound effect of this combination of physical, energetic and spiritual therapy.

Focussed massage to points in the navel area slightly melts the gelatinous coating around local cells, releasing suspended toxins into the lymphatic system and enhancing conductivity of the connective tissue, enabling pain-relieving messages to spread through the embryonic meridians radiating out from the navel centre. Knots, tangles and lumps, the aftermath of forgotten emotion, begin to loosen, ready to be unravelled or dissolved.

Toxic winds released are dispersed or directed out through marsh or mountain, combining other, supplementary, points and channels for specific purposes:

Stomach Channel, elimination route from the front points either side of the navel (ST25 in combination with other Front-Mu or Bo points), particularly useful for disturbance of the spirit - emotional - digestive, reproductive, back pain, cardiovascular conditions, stagnation, distortions of the fasciae;

Gall Bladder Channel for the sides, at the point of the 12th rib (GB25) for liver and pancreatic conditions;

Urinary Bladder for the back (UB23 in combination with other Back-Shu or Yu points) for depletion and kidney conditions; UB51 - particularly effective for tumours and other deep abdominal conditions.

As always, the question arises: how many treatments do I need? As always, the answer depends on the condition, the participant, the practitioner and the homework. Homework encourages participants to share in their own healing and might include self-massage and meditations such as the Inner Smile to strengthen the Qi of the organs and aid in adjustments to self-perception and life-style, and the Microcosmic Orbit to harmonise energy-flow.

It would be unusual for less than four or more than twelve treatments to be needed, to reach the point where the finger can reach the spine and the participant is free: of the physical residue of past emotion, or internal distortions, lesions and adhesions of past surgery; or the symptoms of presenting conditions have been addressed and, more often than not, relieved.

Summary of effects of Chi Nei Tsang in one practice

Presenting Conditions Total Relief Partial Relief No Change
Abscess,cyst,tumour (independent medical diagnosis) 60% 40% 0%
Emotional problems,stress 0% 80% 20%
Chronic headache 100% 0% 0%
Female Infertility 66% 0% 34%
Joint pains 55% 30% 15%
Menstrual/Menopausal problems 66% 34% 0%
Stagnation 75% 25% 0%

Practitioner homework includes the Healing Tao practices to generate, conserve and project their Qi and protect themself from depletion and contamination. The main difference between a Chi Nei Tsang practitioner and other therapists is the practice of the Healing Tao. Chi Nei Tsang can be integrated with benefical effect with such therapies as Acupressure, Acupuncture, Aromatherapy, Chiropractic, Cranio-sacral, Lymphatic drainage, Massage - Ayurvedic, holistic, remedial, Swedish, Thai; Osteopathy, Physiotherapy, Reflexology, Reiki, Rolfing, Shiatsu,Trager,Tuina, Western Medicine.

References:

Chi Nei Tsang, Internal Organs Chi Massage, Mantak Chia, Healing Tao Books, 1990

Hara Diagnosis, Reflections on the Sea, Matsumoto & Birch, Paradigm Publications, 1988

Essentials of Chinese Acupuncture, Foreign Language Press, Beijing, 1979

Body Mind & Spirit, Deepak Chopra, Quantum Publications, 1997

CASE STUDIES

Case Study - Mrs D: female aged 74. Arthritis since being in her early 50s. Her left hip had been replaced at age 69. Other conditions for which she was receiving medication: heart, liver and stomach problems, insomnia, high blood pressure. Her spirits were low and she looked upon herself as a martyr. She described herself as holding on to and supressing anger or expressing it sharply and then feeling regretful.

Mrs D had been bedridden for 2 weeks prior to treatment and walking with the aid of sticks for 6 months before that.

CNT diagnosis: Liver felt hot and sticky, Heart hot and dry, Kidney empty; "cauliflower" feeling to abdomen.

Treatment: opening the wind-gates, baking winds, skin detoxification. She was sensitive to pain and felt unable to take any deep pressure on the organs. Blood flushing was contra-indicated because of High Blood Pressure. She participated in Healing Sounds.

Effect: She slept for two hours following treatment. When she awoke, she got out of bed and walked through her house, not thinking to use the sticks.

Recommendations and follow-up: Daily self-massage, Inner Smile and Healing Sounds. She followed the recommendations and had two pain-free years during which she received CNT once every three or four months, had a second hip-replacement at age 77 and was able to walk without sticks until shortly before her death of kidney failure aged 80.

Case Study - Ms S: female aged 34. Abdominal cancer. She had twice previously received medical treatment including surgery for cancer in her uterus. Both ovaries had also been removed and she had been pronounced clear. She works as a nurse and is becoming involved in complementary therapies. She separated from her husband some 18 months before and had no sexual partner since. She described herself as having been promiscuous before her marriage, ascribing this to lack of self-assertiveness and low self-esteem. She was in dispute with her husband over divorce and property matters.

She has again been diagnosed with a malignant tumour, this time in an area just below where the left ovary would be. She said that her training was telling her to go for chemotherapy/more surgery but her instincts wanted less invasive treatment.

CNT diagnosis: Liver felt hard and slightly painful, Heart empty, Spleen empty; abdomen latticed with scars and a small lump could be felt in the area where the tumour was said to be. Visualisation showed it to be dark brown and feeling like rough charcoal in texture.

Treatment: opening the gates, clearing the exit channels, blood and lymphatic detox essential preliminaries over a series of four sessions to prepare the hara. A further four sessions each of which included large and small intestinal detox and direct work on the lump and UB51 led to a feeling of it diminishing in size and breaking up. It was essential then to open the exit points of ST25, GB25 and UB23 to allow toxins to escape.

Effect: After 8 treatments - one a week - Ms S went back to her specialist who found no sign of a tumour and suggested the original diagnosis had been mistaken.

Recommendations and follow-up: Her training makes her sceptical of the more esoteric aspects of CNT: she was intermittent with "homework". She has since become involved in yoga, resolved matters with her husband, finalised the divorce and moved to a different area.

Case Study - Mr T: male aged 28. Repetitive Strain Injury. He was a professional guitarist, practising up to 10 hours daily, until tension and pain in the left forearm prevented him moving his left fingers. Since then was unemployed. He described himself as a worrier.

He had undergone physiotherapy, massage and shiatsu with various practitioners and described the treatments as affording temporary relief, but then using his left hand again would make the condition recur. He had received conflicting recommendations from different therapists. His GP recommended surgery. Some of his fellow-guitarists had gone this route.

CNT diagnosis: Liver felt tight, Heart cool, Spleen painful; solid mass around navel.

Treatment: initial approach to disperse the mass from the abdominal centre provoked resistance. Working inwards from the periphery was more effective until he was able to move the fingers freely but still felt pain and tension in the forearm along the route of the Pericardium meridian. This was eventually dissolved with visualisation of steaming the embryonic meridians followed by PC meridian.

Effect: Over a series of treatments, once a fortnight for six months, he came to two realisations: that when he thought of playing the guitar his abdomen would tense up; and that when he had practised before he had never been satisfied with his work. He was able to use his left arm and hand but was fearful of the condition recurring.

Recommendations and follow-up: Daily self-massage and meditation, regular stretching exercises for the inner arm, but mainly to be careful to stop practising as soon as he felt tension beginning. He eventually went for surgery because, he said, he did not feel he could play professionally again unless he could practise as much as he was before.

originally published in and reproduced here by kind permission of Positive Health Magazine Issue 35: December 1998

How to Learn Chi Nei Tsang


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