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Body Dialog Massage
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Eastern Philosophy of Health

***This blog is based on my initial training in acupuncture and acupressure in 1991 and some research I’ve done since that time. I do not practice acupuncture. If asked, I would refer to the practitioners mentioned at the end.***
 
The Chinese have an interesting way of describing health and disease that challenges our Western minds both with its picturesque simplicity and seemingly illogical complexity.
 
The Eastern philosophy of health is based on prevention and lifestyle. A truly holistic approach is used which includes physical, emotional and spiritual aspects. In the West our health philosophy is generally based on symptomology and crisis support in a fragmented system by system approach.
 
For the Chinese there are three causes of illness: – emotional state, environment and other. Other includes diet, seasons, trauma etc. The belief is that the body will innately heal itself and constantly strive for homeostasis or balance. The longer something is imbalanced the more problems will arise, in an ever widening circle.
 
There are several basic tenets of this philosophy that I’ll quickly explain, they are: chi, meridians, yin and yang, circulation of energy and the five elements.
 
Chi & Meridians
 
Chi is life force or innate intelligence. This enters our bodies at birth through the navel and leaves the same way at death. All living things contain chi. Chi is not stable or static so it contantly fluctuates and moves around in the body.
 
Disease is then perceived as a disruption in the normal flow and condition of chi throughout the body, brought about by emotional state, environment or trauma (for example, scar tissue interrupts the flow of chi). Imbalance usually manifests first in a muscle or joint and then moves on to an organ.

Now this chi doesn’t just fly randomly around the body. In a normal person, it is channeled into and flows through pathways called meridians.Thousands of years ago, physicians and other learned men noticed that soldiers injured in battle from rocks and arrows hitting them in specific places on their body, would be healed from random diseases. Slowly then, through trial and error the meridians were mapped out. These pathways are invisible and run sometimes superficially, sometimes deeply within the body.
 
There are twelve main meridians, plus many other additional ones. The meridians are paired (one yin, one yang) and are named for the organ they relate to or where they course in the body. If we imagine the meridians as circuits full of electrical energy, then it’s easy to entertain the idea of, for example, stress overloading the circuit and popping the circuit breaker so that they (the meridians) must be reset before energy can again flow properly.
 
Yin/Yang
 
Yin and yang are the properties, elements or components of chi and affect its condition. Yin and yang can be compared to positive and negative electrical charges – they are opposing, yet very much interrelated and complimentary. All living creatures possess yin and yang characteristics and have them in varying proportions. The forces of yin and yang are constantly working upon us, inside and out. These forces are not stable or static. They fluctuate and pulsate within any particular substance or creature. Following are some of the properties of yin and yang.

Yin                               Yang
Negative                      Positive
Feminine                      Masculine
Passive                        Active
Right                            Left
Front                            Back
Inner                            Outer
Dark                             Light
Cold                             Warm
Parasympathetic          Sympathetic
Night                            Day
Chronic                         Acute
Moist                            Dry
Solid                             Hollow
Shade                          Sunlight

Circulation of Energy
 
Over a 24-hour period, chi flows continuously through the meridians like a comet or a tide. For two hours each day each meridian has a high tide of energy as it flows from one meridian to the next. Often the best time to treat a meridian or its related imbalance is during this two-hour crest, though this isn’t always possible.
 
Five Elements
 
The law of the five elements or five ‘forces’ or ‘phases’ is the study of the relationships in nature as the Chinese applied them to the dynamics of the body. The elements describe various aspects of our energy or chi. They are – metal, earth, fire, water and wood. Here are some of the properties of the five elements.
 
Metal
Autumn harvest, afternoon, sorrow, dryness, white, spicy, structure, communication.
Reduces Chi.
Earth
Indian summer, maturation, self-pity, humidity, yellow, sweet, introspection, nourishment.
Coagulates Chi.
Fire
Summer, growth, joy, high heat, red, bitter, vitality, anxiety.
Calms chi.
Water
Winter, hibernation, fear, cold, black/blue, salt, emotions, conserving resources.
Suppresses chi.
Wood
Spring, birth, anger, wind, green, sour, willpower, developing goals.
Stimulates chi.
 
Summary & Resources
 
This has been an incredibly simplified look at an incredibly complex health system. I encourage you to seek out diagrams and explanations of the meridians, yin/yang balance and the interrelationships of the five elements.
 
We have not even touched on how the doctor of eastern medicine would diagnose and treat a patient. We have several excellent doctors of chinese medicine here in Sedona and I would encourage you to check out their website and their office to get a sense of how they run their practice. Acupuncture and herbs do not work equally well for every person but I have found it helpful for different conditions and also for general health.
 
Here are my top three picks for chinese medicine practitioners in Sedona.
www.acuherbalmed.com Sig & Sarah Hauer
www.sedona-acupuncture.com Robert Abrahamson
www.acupuncturesedona.com Ahna Bridenbaugh
 
**This blog is based on my initial training in acupuncture and acupressure in 1991 and some research I’ve done since that time. I do not practice acupuncture. If asked, I would refer to those practitioners above.**

Feel Better, Stay Well. Body Dialog Massage.
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Body Dialog Massage
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Feel Better About Aging

Help yourself get back on your feet with massage and smooth your way through the aging process.

Getting old is…
We often hear ‘Getting old is not for sissies’ and while I’m sure that’s true, regular massage therapy can help you put a positive spin on your aging process.

None of us really want to get old. It’s hard! For those of us who are lucky enough to be growing old, we need to remember that this is a privilege denied to many.

More and more we discover that our minds and bodies simply cannot do what they always did but we are also finding more ways to help ourselves combat the obvious effects of aging and feel better about ourselves.

Staying well as we age
If you read my blog regularly then you already know that I am a proponent of simple solutions to health and wellbeing. These include eating moderately and consciously whenever you can, drinking plenty (more than or two glasses per day) of pure water (click here for more information about hydration)  exercising regularly in whatever way your body will allow and steering clear of nasty people (you will know them if your stomach tightens, your jaw clenches, your head aches or you feel diminished at the mention of their name).

Add to that list getting regular massages! Of course being a massage therapist for the last 28 years, I tend to look at the world through the lens of massage but I have seen so many older adults reap huge benefits from bodywork that I remain a steadfast advocate.


Can’t get outside much?

If you suffer from any condition that makes it difficult for you to get outside and enjoy the sunshine, (pain, arthritis, poor balance, auto-immune disease and many others) then massage becomes even more important. It can help keep your muscles loose and ready for the activities of daily living, it can reduce inflammation and pain levels, it can aid with sleep and anxiety, it can help prevent injuries from falling and can flush accumulated waste from muscles and organs due to inactivity or medications.

Aging can impose many restrictions in our bodies depending on our circumstances and massage is something we can always do for our health and well-being. Many older adults living in Sedona have the time and resources to afford regular massages and you can easily book ahead the same way you do for vacations or doctors appointments.

Try a session with me
At the beginning of your session I will write a detailed intake, while all you have to do is speak. We talk about what you want from the session and how I think I can help. Then, you undress and get onto the table in private. The table is lowered so it’s easy for you to get on and off. I check in with you often about pressure and pace, warmth on the table and in the room. I hope you will rebook before you leave but you are never pressured to do so. I will often give you tips on how to feel better in between sessions and changes that would help you.

The massage that happens in the midst of all this is both unique and personal, according to what you have asked for. You are never too old to try massage for the first time and I would be happy to fill in while your regular massage therapist is sick, on vacation or has left town more permanently. I’m here to help you get back on your feet and smooth your way through the aging process.

Feel Better, Stay Well. Body Dialog Massage.