Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Chi massage as interactive healing

Chinese are very much onto health care or recuperation (養生). The most popular form of massage in China today is foot massage. Unlike treating foot massage as an alternative medicine to cure specific ailments (with different massage points linking to different internal organs as in the theory of reflexology), most Chinese nowadays simply treat it as a kind of relaxing practice to promote general health care and for recuperation. It is interesting to observe that many Chinese who fancy foot massage often insist on a particular masseur for their enjoyable massage session. If you ask them why, they will say something like this "Me and my masseur can work well together!"  How come? And why Chinese are in particular onto foot massage?

Going to spa is a popular kind of passive chi massage for the well-to-do ladies. In a typical massage session there the masseur takes care of everything. He or she massages to relax your muscles, then he or she guides or connects your chi together. In more aggressive types (e.g. traditional Thai massage), the masseur also initiates passive body movement in your body to guide chi to open your joints and to generate more powerful chi. You only need to relax and passively lie there to enjoy the process. An in a modern 5-stars hotel setting, the session comes with aromatherapy promising everything from rejuvenation to detox, from essential oil to secret traditional recipes (all depends on how much you want to pay and enjoy). For those readers who are interested in chi kung equivalence of Thai massage, my previous post on the subject may be a good read too: Tai chi as massage therapy.

Foot massage is passive in the beginning. Passive foot massage is in essence pain endurance. You sit down (or lie down depending one the routines of different establishments), hold your breath and allow the foot masseur to take over. You relax, he generates pain in your body, and your body reacts to pain with appropriate or inappropriate muscle contraction in your body. The healing comes from those muscles contractions in response to pain generation at your foot (sole, for most of the time).

A good foot masseur will manage your pain response, increases his powerful finger press here and decreases it there, all guided by your pain response. In time, your body response will be trained to react or interact in an appropriate manner, meaning chi will be generated to flow inside your body in a desirable way. And with more progress, an experienced client will learn (physically rather than rationally) how to response in this appropriate manner (upon each press by the masseur) to facilitate chi flow. As will all chi kung practice, the most appropriate way to facilitate chi flow will be felt as an enjoyable physical and mental sensation. And the client will be hooked on to foot massage, and further more will be hooked on to the particular masseur who can speak to his body, so to speak.

Without any disrespect to tai chi masters, pushing hands can be treated as a form of interactive chi massage. During pushing hands, a master will, with appropriate instructions, will activate the push and pull muscles of his student which in turn will open the student's joints (primarily his shoulder joints and secondarily, for more advanced practice, his pelvic joints) and generate chi to flow through his body to create the condition of muscles-as-one (肌肉如一) or molten-lead-filled-body (身如鉛注). And the internal feeling of the student will be most enjoyable. It was one of the reasons why the training of  the masters of Yang style and Wu style tai chi were so popular among the royalties at the old Qing court.

Foot massage in action


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...