Asian bodywork therapy, acupuncture and Chinese herbs are the three major healing arts of Chinese medicine. Acupressure is a recognized style of Asian bodywork therapy certified by the national professional association, the American Oriental Bodywork Therapy Association (AOBTA).

Acupressure is a healing modality that emphasizes balancing the energy body or energy system with the physical body, mind, and spirit. An integral part of Chinese medicine, acupressure is similar to acupuncture except that it uses the hands rather than needles to adjust energy flow. Students of acupressure learn the same meridians and acupionts that are used in acupuncture as well as the Asian bodywork therapy known as shiatsu (from the Japanese “shi” finger, and “atsu” pressure).

Originally developed from the ancient Chinese massage technique anmo, shiatsu evolved in the early 1900’s in Japan. It is based on the concept of qi—the body’s vital life force flowing through defined channels or meridians along the surface of the body. When the body’s vital energy flow or qi is normal and harmonious, the body is balanced and healthy. Acupressure points are specific locations along the meridians where the flow of qi gathers in vortices spiraling in inward and outward directions. Pressure or pain at a particular acupoint can reflect an imbalance. Stimulation of these acupoints by rubbing, pressing, massaging, tapping, applying heat moxibustion, or magnetic therapy will encourage deep muscular relaxation, circulation of blood, and qi balancing. A person will experience varying sensitivity at these acupoints depending on his/her condition. Sensations of softness, hardness, soreness, ticklishness, pulsation, heat or cold reflect obstruction in the energy along the meridian pathway.

An acupressure therapist develops the ability to “read” the points and understand the energetic condition of the individual reflected in the sensitivities of these points. Pain at an acupoint can reflect an imbalance along the meridian on which it is located or a corresponding area or an associated organ. Assessment of a person’s condition also includes traditional parameters of pulse, tongue, observation, interrogation, and especially palpation of abdomen and back.

An acupressure shiatsu treatment traditionally is done on a special shiatsu futon mat with the recipient wearing loose cotton clothing. Gentle yet firm pressure is applied along the meridians of the arms, legs, back, neck and head to open the pathways to qi flow. Specific acupressure points are chosen and held in combinations to further balance the qi. Oftentimes, the rhythm of shiatsu technique and the acupressure to the point sequences form a dance-like movement that lulls the recipient into a deep state of relaxation.

In treating a specific imbalance, various acupressure techniques can be used including: varying pressure, rhythm and time of holding points, vibrating, spiraling inwards or outwards, channeling qi using visualization and breath, and more. One chooses the technique best suited to either tonify a weak qi condition or disperse a blocked qi condition. The acupoint or points used will differ according to the condition; even for a headache, the acupoints differ according to location and nature of the pain and whether the headache is due to a lung dysfunction (i.e. sinus headache) or liver problem (i.e. migraine), etc. Every treatment is individualized.

Acupressure shiatsu can address common problems such as low back pain, PMS, headaches, weak immune systems, digestive problems and more. “Extraordinary vessel acupressure” which uses a special group of meridians different from the major meridians can balance the deep constitutional root energies. In Chinese medicine, a root treatment aims at restoring the energetic balance on a deep source level much the same as caring for the roots of a tree will maintain its health and strength. Root problems are not easily observed but may be reflected in the “branches” which are more easily noticed. In Chinese medicine, the branches are similar to the symptoms that manifest before the underlying deeper problems become apparent and are often the primary complaints commonly seen in clinics i.e. low back pain, migraines, menstrual problems, and so on. Oftentimes, if the underlying root problem is correctly assessed and treated, balance can be restored on the deep energetic levels and the symptoms improve. For example, insomnia may often be caused by an underlying imbalance in the “liver yang disturbing the shen or spirit,” in which case treatment to restore the energetic balance of the liver will help the insomnia. The more chronic a problem becomes, the deeper it settles within the body and the longer it takes to resolve.

Trained acupressure practitioners spend years refining their ability to assess and treat energy imbalances associated with illness and pain. The practitioner must develop a finely tuned sense of touch to find the acupoints indicated for the best treatment. The recipient will often respond when the therapist gets right on the point. There is usually a pleasure/pain sensation; the point may feel sore but it will feel good to have the pressure applied. The sensitivity at the point changes as the muscles relax, the body’s circulation opens, and the qi is balanced. Both the client and practitioner often work on a deep energetic state of calm and quiet, the mind blending with the heart in a meditative awareness of inner self and qi flow. Through acupressure, the individual’s own healing energies are encouraged to bring wholeness of being in body-mind-spirit. Acupressure shiatsu at best can be a very transformative healing art for both practitioner and patient.

Article source: http://www.ofspirit.com/barbarablanchard1.htm

Submited By: Barbara Blanchard