Chi Nei Tsang is a Tantric Taoist technique developed according to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine. Chi Nei Tsang physically seeks and treats emotional blockages found in the organs to free them from pain, helping us heal. This particular style of massage can at first feel unpleasant to a lot of people who are shy or afraid of pressure. For example, I like to give my family various styles of massage, only a couple prefer Chi Nei Tsang because of its pressure (it is not hard pressure but it is localized pressure, and for some it just does not fit their personality or needs and that is ok). I am sharing it because to me, it is one of the most beneficial style of massage when it comes to our physiological health, and it helps process emotions.
Thousands of years ago, Taoists already realized emotions affect organs, and saw that one of the main causes of disease occurred when these get trapped in the body. We feel butterflies in our stomach when we fall in love, we get a feeling of having a knot in the pit of our stomach whenever we are worried, we swallow bile to contain anger…
If we feel emotions such as anger, sadness, fear, jealousy… and we do not know how to let go, they become each encysted in a specific organ, which interrupts their normal functioning. A punctual anger is sometimes necessary to react in a healthy protective manner, but sustained anger can create pathologies such as chronic constipation, menstrual dysfunctions or migraines.
Chi Nei Tsang focuses on the abdomen, for it considers the digestive system to be a general emotional regulator. This focus makes sense, specially when we consider the psychological analogy of “digesting” emotions. Our emotions affect our organs; in fact, today we know that many of the neurotransmitters responsible for happiness and well-being are produced in the gut, so a healthy gut will perform this function better and contribute to optimal emotional health.
According to Tao and traditional Chinese medicine, each organ is especially sensitive to some emotions and not to others. As such, our organs are affected by some emotions and nourished by others. This of course has led to the false idea that the so called “positive emotions only” are the cure for it all. However, Taoist Tantra knows this to be a lie, for in their wisdom, they discovered a long time ago, that there is such a thing as “Toxic Positivism” of which I have written before and will do so in another upcoming article. When we choose to chant niceties but are not “digesting” (healing, working, facing) our wounds, all we are doing is feeding subconscious resentment–in other words, we are not healing but rather compounding the problem. In our current society we believe that those who battle with their “negative” emotions, are toxic. Yet that is ignorance, psychology has always pointed out, that which we deny controls us. More importantly, these people who battle with themselves are actually listening to their body, they are sensitive to what it is saying and are in the process of healing and recovery–which is quite a few steps further than denial.
A weakened organ, some or a lot of trauma excess, can generate specific unpleasant emotions. On the other hand, a healthy organ gives us specific good emotions.
- Heart: In the traditional Chinese system, the functions of the heart are paired with the small intestine. Emotions such as impatience, excessive superficial joy or unhealthy euphoria, cruelty and hatred affect it. To nourish both organs you have to fill them with love, compassion and what Taoist called measured joy or what Tantra calls real joy.
- Lung: paired with the large intestine, it is very sensitive to sadness, grief and depression. If it is strong we feel full of courage, determination and the desire to live.
- Kidney and bladder: when they are weak, they make the person fearful and excessively shy or anxious. Panic and sustained fear weaken them, while building courage, enjoying moments of peaceful silence and gentleness, all nourish them.
- Liver and gallbladder: When in imbalance, we become susceptible to anger, envy and resentment. If these emotions are not released, they become entrenched in these organs and congest them. In balance, they favor generosity, justice, creativity and equanimity.
- Spleen and stomach: in balance, they give us confidence in life and feeling that everything is fine. If they are healthy, they give us good memory and capacity for study and understanding. In imbalance, they generate worry and obsessive thoughts. These organs also regulate digestion; a lifetime of worries affects their functioning and the body’s ability to “digest” emotions, which then become more easily entrenched and create more blockages…hence our stomach is the most important organ to maintain healthy.
With the massage of the organs, the therapist works with qi, chi or vital energy, looking for obstacles; according to the Taoist concept where there is pain, there is blockage. Therefore, it is important that the therapist is a practitioner of Chikung or at the very least has Tantric knowledge of it (this is why I always say, Tantra is a serious discipline and it takes years to properly learn its many facets). Chikung, is a set of practices and meditations aimed at generating and controlling chi.
It is a physical and energetic work in which each organ is massaged through the skin.
Sometimes the massage can be painful but it is a pain that we perceive as positive, because as the treatment progresses, supported by breaths and relaxations, we can notice how that knot is letting go. Then we feel how the energy of each organ flows strongly and nourishes the physiological processes previously stagnant.
The massage is also accompanied by visualizations of the colors that nourish each organ:
- red for the heart
- orange yellow for the spleen
- white for the lung
- bluish black for the kidney
- green for the liver
At the same time that the visualizations are made, we also work with the “six healing sounds”. These help to release harmful emotions, which can come from past or present experiences, or be generated because of the weakness or pathology of an organ.
TIPS FOR THE CARE OF THE DIGESTIVE ORGANS
A basic Taoist advice on digestive health is to always eat in a relaxed environment, with few conversations or at least while eating maintain the conversations pleasant….which means not entering heavy stuff while eating.
When we find ourselves in emotionally difficult situations or during times when we experience turbulent emotions, let us be conscious of making the work easier for our digestive system by eating few ingredients at the same time, no too much spices and no raw food that is hard to process.
Foods that nourish the digestive system are root; pumpkin, millet, rice.
There are also simple self-massage techniques that applied daily provide great benefits and can be easily put into practice at home.
Self-massage techniques, although simple, provide great benefits if applied daily. This is the case of this energetic self-massage of the belly, which is especially useful when there is constipation (trapped emotions) and which we can perform every morning before getting up:
- We place the index and middle fingers of each hand facing each other (the index fingernail of one hand touches that of the other and the same with the middle finger) and we let them rest them on the navel.
- We close our eyes. By breathing in, filling the lungs and exhaling, we direct the mind, eyes and heart towards the navel. We repeat three times.
- We raise our fingers just above the navel, press down and make five circles without lifting our fingers or losing their position. We move our fingers, always together, slightly to the left and repeat the pressure in circles. Then, we trace a spiral that will go from the navel out to reach the outermost part of the abdomen.
- Then we perform a gentle massage in the opposite direction, towards the navel; when we reach the navel we close our fists with the intention of storing the energy there.
- During our scanning, if we find painful points we can stop and make all the circles we feel we need to unlock that knot before continuing. If we also perform the massage with a sweet smile aimed at our digestive system….it will feel much better!
Complimentary aids for Chi Nei Tsang are gestalt therapy, flower essence therapy, meditation and acupuncture.
I hope now that you know more about the powerful effects of Chi Nei Tsang, that you give it a try. After all, your health is worth it.