Have you ever gotten your stomach massaged? If you have, you would definitely remember, because it hurts. Usually the response I get from my clients is, “I had no idea how tense I was in there!” Some people hate it, and some people, including myself, are amazed at how well it brings everything together at the end of a massage. It feels deeply satisfying.
I sneak it in at the end of my massages, because I know how effective it can be. I have been studying, receiving treatments, and integrating the technique of Chi Nei Tsang into my practice for the last 6 years. I have witnessed and received the effects of the treatments when applied in their entirety, but not everybody is ready or willing to go there.
Chi Nei Tsang is a healing modality that translates literally to, ‘transforming energy in the internal organs.’ It is based on Taoist concepts developed thousands of years ago; concepts that are fundamental in traditional Chinese Medicine practices and other disciplines like Kung Fu and Tai Chi. The common and key principles are that the body is understood and interpreted as a life force energy made up of elemental forces that are designed to be transformed and fine-tuned to achieve higher states of health, vibrancy, and longevity. The elemental forces are Fire, Water, Earth, Wood, and Metal – each correlating with an organ, a function, and a certain kind of emotion.
Surely you’ve heard the phrase about feeling ‘butterflies in your stomach’. When we are in a state of fight-or-flight (total anxiety), neurons in our brain send messages to our gut telling it to stop working. Your body is smart; it understands distress as the need to escape from something, so it sends all the energy to your limbs and away from less urgent matters like digestion. Hence, stress equals stomach spasms, which equal fluttering sensations.
The truth is that there are experiences in our lives that we are not able to digest. This is where the expression ‘I can’t stomach that’ makes sense. Our organs reflect our life stories and end up carrying the tone of our most deepest, oldest physical and emotional upsets. At best, this phenomenon shows itself as stagnancy and sluggishness in our organs and their surrounding tissues and muscles. At worst, we see it manifest in serious pain and some form of malfunction or ‘disease’ in the body.
Chi Nei Tsang is an invitation to connect to these unprocessed emotions and specific spots in our bodies that feel tender, hard, or even numb at times. Awareness and allowance is our bridge to digesting emotions. We use a lot more of our energy trying to block a feeling, and when we are able to let go of that resistance, we give that feeling the opportunity to complete its course. Being honest with ourselves about how we feel can be the biggest challenge. Emotions are not rational, and for that reason, we cannot expect to be able to resolve them solely at a mental level.
Touch is powerful in that it can reawaken sensation and bring chi (life) back into the organs. The work is considered to be ‘detoxifying the organs’ and a big part of the formula finalizes when we go to sleep that night, as we continue to internally alchemize through our dreams. Working at this core level is simple and yet absolutely powerful.
Historically, practitioners were regarded as miracle workers; stories have been told of patients walking out of their sessions pushing their own wheelchairs. Chi Nei Tsang treatments can provide relief from constipation, heartburn, headaches, chronic pains, and sleeplessness. Chi Nei Tsang can also help with more significant conditions like hernias, gallbladder stones, depression, infertility, prostate problems, or healing after an injury or surgery. But, it will not magically cure an illness; as my teacher continually explains: healing is not about trying to get back to where you were before you had the bad symptom; it is about being able to outgrow old feelings (and mental tendencies) in order to not be negatively affected by them. It is about having the will, grace, and courage to become someone new, which takes curiosity and above all else, an enthusiasm to being alive. (September 2018)
Paola DiVito, CMT