As indicated through numerous specific case studies and medical research in general, we know that the human body is capable of remarkable feats of self-healing. Self-healing happens automatically when we cultivate our body’s innate healing powers.
But how, exactly, do we make it happen?
Chinese medicine can help us make use of four simple techniques:
• Deep breathing
• Gentle movement
If we put these techniques to work for just 10-15 minutes a day, we will feel more energetic, alert, and less vulnerable to illness and the negative side effects of stress.
These techniques can be used as often as you like, but it’s a good idea to combine all four briefly the first thing each morning.
Americans have forgotten to breathe. I have caught myself taking shallow breaths on occasion; this is not optimal for a massage therapist or anyone else. Once I became aware of it I consciously began making a change – and what a difference the techniques have made in my energy level.
Try these exercises:
• Take a slow, deep breath through your nose. Allow the lower part of your lungs to fill and keep inhaling until your lungs feel fully inflated…
• Exhale slowly for 10 seconds. You can exhale silently (the best option for us massage therapists, so that the client is not distracted!) or you can give an audible sigh of relief and allow yourself to drift into a state of deep relaxation.
Single deep breaths are beneficial but the accumulated effect of many breaths can be dramatic. Resolve to do two or three deep breathing sessions every day and remember that the goal should be to develop a habit of breathing deeply all day long.
Research confirms that easy, low intensity exercise provides virtually all the disease-fighting benefits of vigorous exercise – with far less risk of injury to both your muscles and your joints. The “flowing technique” is very popular in China.
What To Do:
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and shoulders relaxed. Let your arms dangle at your sides. Bend your knees slightly and move your tailbone beneath your spine so as to elongate your back. As if nodding, lower your chin.
Rest briefly, then inhale slowly and turn your palms forward. Swing your arms forward and upward while slowly rising onto the balls of your feet. Raise your palms up to shoulder height and keep your elbows slightly bent. Now turn the palms downward, slowly lower your arms and exhale. Return heels to the floor. As your hands pass your legs, let them swing back slowly while lifting your toes. Repeat 10-15 times with a rhythmic flow.
Self massage has been a powerful healing tool in China for thousands of years. Hand Massage, for example, is easy to do and can be done most anywhere, most anytime. Here’s how: Using your left thumb, apply gentle pressure to the palm of your right hand. Place your remaining fingers on the back of the right hand for support. Increase the pressure gradually until you are exerting about the same pressure needed to squeeze a new tennis ball. (I had to steal my Black Lab’s ball to test this exercise…not a pretty picture, folks.)
Massage your hand all over, noting any areas of tenderness. If you are like most people we serve, you’ll be surprised and most likely will not want to omit this part of your next professional massage. Massage your fingers, all the way out to the tips and back. End by grasping each finger of your right hand on both sides of the nail and pinch gently. Return to any tender points on either hand and knead gently for a few minutes.
Yes, hand massage will feel even better when performed by your licensed massage therapist, primarily because of the very specific training and knowledge we have acquired, but also because you will not be doing the work and will be totally on the receiving end, in a soothing, healing environment designed to promote overall well being.
Have you ever thought about Energizing Your Internal Organs?
We therapists do this with Hand and Foot Reflexology, but you can do this by placing your palms over the lower edge of your rib cage, near the sides of your body and near the front. Rub your palms against your body in a circular motion, breathing easily and deeply. Feel the warmth (energy) generated by your hands penetrating toward the internal organs. Next, place one hand on your breastbone (sternum) and the other on your navel (salt holder for celery snacking while in bed). Rub in a circular motion with each hand. You have just energized you internal organs-and yourself-during this maneuver.
Stand, sit or lie comfortably. Focus all your concentration on the sensation of your breath as it passes through your nostrils. The nostrils should feel cool as fresh air enters and warm as you exhale. You can do this mindfulness exercise briefly for a few seconds or as long as 20 minutes. When you hold the focus on your breathing it is impossible to worry or think about stressful situations. What’s not to like here?
Stay positive and do something good for yourself today.
Nancy Shores, LMT, Facial Specialist
Roger Jahnke, OMD (Doctor of Oriental Medicine)
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