Acupressure

More Than Acupuncture Without Needles



Traditional asian medical theory holds that rivers of life force (chi) run constantly through the body, flowing down well-defined channels called meridians. When clean, powerful rivers flow through a region it's easier to transport goods, engage in commerce and society prospers. In much the same way strong and smoothly flowing chi meridians help the body thrive. Some would say they also help the person inhabiting such a body live a happier and more productive life.

Rivers can be polluted, dammed, drained. Chi meridians can become toxic, stagnant, depleted. The quality and abundance of chi in the Lung meridian affects and reflects the health of the Lungs themselves and this is true for all the body's organs and their associated meridians. Emotions respond quickly to changes in chi flow; well-trained acupressurists can look at a face, listen to a voice and know which meridians are likely to be imbalanced, and in which specific ways.

Acupressure is not a substitute for psychotherapy. When used to complement therapeutic processes it has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, improving clinical outcomes in trauma patients1,2 stress-related hypertension3 and rehabilitation.4 By easing dysfunctional energetic disturbances and associated muscular armoring it can help people make more rapid progress in their therapy.5

Concentrations of chi generally attract more of the same kind of chi. Living beings are great concentrations of chi. So are the lives we create. Life force streams into us from our environment, passing through the acu-points into our meridians and organs. If our chi flows are stagnant we can tend to resist this process. The easier we accept and move with the life forces we encounter in the world as we go about our lives, the easier it is to harmonize with the world and within ourselves. We adapt easily to change and thrive.

Ancient asian traditions teach the cultivation of chi not only as a way to good health but also to good luck. Again, this is because chi attracts more of the same kind of chi. If we go out into the world with anger we attract more anger. If we go out into the world feeling peaceful and abundant, we create more abundance.

In order for the body to thrive chi must be sent to every tissue and cell. First our bodies must absorb and refine the chi they receive and then they need to distribute the chi to where it's needed. On a physical level we can tell this isn’t happening smoothly when we develop muscular tension. On a behavioral level we can tell the same thing is happening when we get into mental or emotional ruts, doing the same unsatisfying things over and over again. In both cases, left unaddressed, chi blockages eventually start to hurt.

But when these blocks first show up as muscle tension and patterns of behavior we generally don't notice and can't feel them. The muscular tension itself impedes chi flow and at the same time the tension stores within it memories of old emotions, emotions we generally couldn't express at the time we were feeling them. We can get good at suppressing painful feelings but as our inner emotional tension builds our bodies become more rigid. That's why one of the best ways to cultivate chi is to simply remove these energy blocks so the natural flows can be restored.

It’s hard to change the things we’re not aware of. Anyone doing emotional or personal growth work knows just what this looks and feels like ... as do any mental health professionals working with them. It’s called denial. Awareness of the problem is the first step, taking action is the next.

Acupressure work, combining a practitioner's conscious direction of energy along with the physical force necessary to dissolve the associated muscular armoring, can be very helpful to this process. Acupressure moves stagnant chi by applying finger pressure to stagnant, tender acu-points in areas of muscular tension. Experienced acupressurists use their attention to move chi through the region they're working on while using their hands to unwind tense muscle groups.

There are a number of different forms of acupressure. Shiatsu is the most common. It originated in Japan and involves a practitioner kneeling or squatting over you while you lie on a mat on the floor. It can be quite physically demanding for both receiver and practitioner, particularly when done in the traditional way. Softer forms of acupressure have evolved: the Jin Shin forms are notable for their lighter touch and focus on the movement of chi with breath and visualization. Tui Na is a Chinese form which involves pinching and rolling the skin between the fingers while following the course of the meridians.

Acupressure can help heal old physical injuries that weren't fully treated at the time they were sustained. Acupressure can relax you and leave you feeling as if you've just had a week in the Bahamas. If it's done too aggressively acupressure can leave you feeling sore and drained. We usually try to avoid this at Natural StressCare (unless of course it's what you want.)

As muscle tension releases the buried emotions sometimes surface. While most acupressure sessions are calm and relaxing, other sessions may stimulate these old memories of fear, anger, jealousy, sadness. Usually by the end of the session these feelings have passed and one feels refreshed and energized because one's chi is flowing more freely and therefore powerfully. We look and feel better. And since smoothly flowing Chi naturally attracts even more chi, one may find interesting and unexpected things happening. Removing chi blockages allows the natural chi flows to re-establish themselves. Once we remove debris from a backed-up river, we don't need to worry about getting the flow going again; the natural tendency of water is to move downhill.

When we do the work of harmonizing our chi, life moves more smoothly in and around us. We do the things we need to do but we're relaxed and easy. So we get more done, and attract better people and opportunities to us.

This is also known as having fun.

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 1. Kober, A. et al. 2003. Auricular acupressure as a treatment for anxiety in prehospital transport settings. Anesthesiology. 98(6):1328-1332.

 2. Kober, A. et al, 2002. Prehospital analgesia with acupressure in victims of minor trauma: a prospective, randomized, double-blinded trial. Anesthesia and Analgesia. 95(3):723-7.

 3. Kulkarni, S. et al. 1998. Stress and hypertension. WMJ. 97(11):34-8.

 4. Sherwin D.C. 1992. Traditional Chinese medicine in rehabilitation nursing practice. Rehabilitation Nursing 17(5):253-5

 5. Ortego NE. 1994. Acupressure: an alternative approach to mental health counseling through bodymind awareness. Nurse Practitioner Forum 5(2):72-6