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Let Your Fingers Do the Healing
You’ve e probably heard of acupuncture, or seen a photo of someone receiving the treatment-looking a bit like a human pincushion, with dosns of little needles sticking out of his body. But how much do you know about acupressure?
With acupressure, you use finger or hand pressure instead of needles. But its goal is the same as acupuncture’s: to stimulate what Chinese medical practidoners call chi-the body ‘s most basic healing energy.
Acupressure is the older, original technique, a Chinese home remedy that gave rise to the more “technological” approach of acupuncture- I same wav e herb willow bark was the predecessor of aspirin.)
Many American physicians and health professionals say that both of these techniques are powerful methods for pain relief and disease treatment.
“But acupressure can be even more powerful than acupuncture for relieving says Michael Reed Gach, ph-D.» director of the Acupressure Institute in Berkeley, California, and author of Acupressure’s potent points. The common complaints include headaches, backaches, pain, neck pain, eyestrain id menstrual cramps, he says. Acupressure can also reduce the pain of ulcers help heal sports injuries, relieve insomnia and alleviate constipation.
Another advantage of pressure over puncture is that you can do it yourself all you need are your hands, a little knowledge and some time. It’s also cheap-free in fact, once you’ve learned the basics. And it’s simple and safe. if you use common sense, the only thing you can do wrong is be a little too vigorous.
Before You use the acupressure remedies in this book, you might enjoy reading a bit more about theory and practice of the technique itself. Think of the rest of this chapter as a tour of an exotic foreign countrpyour body, as understood by Chinese medicine and as healed by acupressure.
The Instinct of Heaiing
“Acupressure is as old as instinct,’ says Dr. Gach. “When your head hurts, you rub Vour temples, when your stomach aches, you bend over and hold the place where it hurts.’
“’These are ancient peasant remedies, says Betsy Ruth Dayton, founder of High Touch Network, a professional organization in friday Harbor, Washington, whose members practice acupressure. When their kids there sick. Neighbors gave each other treatments. Gifts anybody could afford to give.
These basic human impulses-to touch, to heal-were combined in China with the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, which has as its original the nearly 4 OOOyear-old Yellow Emperor s Classic of Internal Medicine. In That text, and over the next two millennia Chinese doctors discovered a system of channels and points on the body that, if correctly touched or stimulated, would relieve pain and speed healing.
The traditional Chinese doctors said these channels, called meridians, the invisible wires that conducted the body ‘s chi, or energy. If these channels were disturbed-if the energy flowing through them was too slow or too fast, too turbulent or too static-the body s chi was said to be unbalanced. The goal of traditional Chinese medicine was to restore chi to a state of balance. (along with diet, herbs, methods) was one of its techniques.
“If a person is totally healthy mentally, emotionally and physically- energy will flow through the body freely, like electricity is conducted through circuits,’ says Dayton. None of us is totally healthy- We all experience injury and emotional trauma. And there are environmental assaults, too, such as air pollution and noise. You can use acupressure to rebalance or unblock the en?y that flows through your body, so your body can begin to heal itself-”
And You can use acupressure not only to ease your aches and pains but also Subhuti Dharmananda, director of the Institute for Traditional Medicine in Portland, Oregon. I also use acupressure to feel better mentally and spiritually, Dayton says.
How TO Be A BLOCK BUSTER
If a block in your body is physical, such as a swollen ankle. You can use acupressure to tone muscles and improve circulation in the injured area- As you the muscle tension lessens as the muscle fibers rel^nd lengthen, and blood flows more freely to the injury. l”he swelling goes down, and the pain goes away.
Pressing on the points can also free an emotional block by releasing the accumula^d tension you hold in Your body, says Dayton. In this book, find points on Your back, near your shoulder blades, that can relieve sadness.
And depression and points on Your wrists and in the center of Your forehead that can quell anxiety* according to Ayurveda experts..
Even spiritual blocks, such as difficulty meditating, can be relieved with acupressure. Lightly holding a point at the center of Your forehead just above )ridge of your nose for one minute with ?our eyes closed is a wonderful way to And he says that pressing two 1 ndemeath the base of the skull called the Gates of Consciousness not ilieve headaches but also makes you more receptive to spiritual wisdom.
Those are only a few of the dozens of acupressure points. Where are the rest? Well, imagine that your body is a big city, the meridians are the subway lines and the points are the subway stops. In acupressure, there are 14 main subway lines, with 365 stops. But don’t worry about getting lost.
GO WITH THE FLOW
j^irst, there are 12 major meridians, each of which is connected to a specific organ, such as the stomach or spleen. Six of these meridiansUung, spleen and kidney^flow up the front of the bodybladder, stomach, gallbladder and triple warmer-run down the back. (Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of your triple warmer organ; you don’t have one. The Chinese system identifies some connections in the energy system that don’t fit the conceptual framework of Western Medicine.)
There is another set of meridians, called the eight extraordinary channels, that run though the body in routes not directly related to the major organs. Acupressure points areocated on two of these meridians. One, called the gov erning channel, links le spinal column, brain and nervous system and runs from the tailbone at the base of the spine up the back and over the top of the head to the center of the upper lip. The other, called the conception channel, is linked to the digestive and reproductive systems and flows from the head to the perineum (the space between the anus and the genitals) .
Each pressure point is identified W the abbreviation of its meridian and a specific number. (In Chinese Tranquillity, Wind of Heaven and Welcoming perfume.) So LI 4, for ex ample, i^txs point 4 on the large intestine meridian, while St 36 is point 36 fFor a list of these abbreviations, see ffor the Meridians You’ll find that the acupressure remedies usually combine points near the area of pain or tension with points that seem to have no obvious connection to the immediate problem. Chinese medicine calls the nearby points local points pathways connect the points.