The Art of Acupressure
Calming the Mind, Soothing the Spirit
Do you often feel like a fire-breathing dragon filled with anger and rage? Fear not. Traditional Chinese medical doctors can teach you how to use acupressure to quell the angst, calm the spirit, and put a smile on your face.
Calming the Mind, Soothing the SpiritBy Yi-hua Lee
“Cultivation of the heart” is the highest manifestation of the core tenet of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), which seeks to achieve a golden mean – emotional equilibrium being the most elusive state.
Ma Guang-ya, a TCM practitioner and liver disease authority who lived to the age of 92, greeted everyone with a smile each day. Doctor Ma never complained or got angry, no matter how many patients he had to see.
And one of his secrets for maintaining a tranquil mind was daily acupressure massage.
Former presidential adviser Chen Li-fu, who lived to 103, conducted a full-body massage during a daily bath. Not only did he enjoy excellent health, he rarely ever got angry.
Dr. Shen Yi-chung, attending physician at Taipei City Hospital’s Department of Chinese Medicine, explains that such techniques as acupressure and meridian patting can open up circulation and calm the spirit. Shen, who employs these methods himself to calm his mind and sustain his body, recommends placing pressure on the following acupressure points whenever you feel down, angry, or agitated.
When applying pressure to a pressure point, press until you feel tenderness, pain or discomfort, swelling, or numbness to achieve a calming effect.
Baihui Point: Located on top of the skull where lines going straight up from the ears meet, activating this meridian can help alleviate stress-related headaches and dizziness, and aid relaxation.
Yintang Point: When you are feeling a little blue or dejected, try putting pressure on the Yintang Point between the brows to loosen your wound-up mood.
Neiguan Point: The Neiguan Point, located around two and half inches above the crease running horizontally across your wrist can not only reduce bloating, but also ease heart palpitations, insomnia, and anxiety. When you feel stressed, applying pressure with your opposite thumb can help eliminate feeling like you are all tied up in knots.
Taichong Point: Located on the liver meridian, the Taichong Point can be accessed at the intersection of the big toe and second phalanx, about two finger widths above the place where the skin of your big toe and the next toe join. Shen relates that locating lower body pressure points can move blood and qi downwards and gradually rein in wayward qi. “When anger is boiling over, pressing this point can be very effective,” he says.
When massaging acupressure points, it is best to incorporate abdominal breathing, using precise, slow, even, long inhalation and exhalation to settle the mind and promote relaxation.
All-day Acupressure Massage without Memorizing Pressure Points
If memorizing acupressure points is too difficult, TCM has a saying: “Deviate from points, not meridians.” This means that even if you do not locate the correct acupressure point, as long as you are in the right neighborhood on the same meridian, you can achieve good results. Shen likens meridians to highways, and pressure points to toll stations, saying, “As long as you’re on the right road, you don’t have to memorize each toll station’s name.”
The following three simple massage techniques, each of which can be completed in 3-5 minutes, can promote good health:
1. Stimulate Head and Face upon Waking
Numerous meridian intersections are located on the head. While lying in bed before rising in the morning, you can tap your head with your fingertips to promote blood circulation, awaken the brain, and focus thinking. This is known in traditional Chinese medicine as “sounding the heavenly drum,” as it produces a percussive rapping sound.
As for massaging the face, Chinese medicine holds that “the face reflects the spirit of one’s heart.” Moreover, numerous meridians reach the face, and frequent stimulation of the eyes, nose, and ears can help maintain good circulation through the meridians.
Beginning around the eyes, massage the perimeter of the eye sockets with the fleshy part of your thumbs, moving outward from the inner top area, covering the Zuanzhu Point at the inside of the brows, the Jingming Point at the inner corners of the eyes, and the temples (Taiyang Point) on both sides of the skull.
Proceeding downward, rub your hands together to produce heat, then cover your nose with your fingers. This can help prevent drowsiness caused by congestion from cold air contacting the nose. Next, deliberately clench your teeth, first biting hard, then slowly unclenching to promote circulation in the head and neck.
Ear points: The ears are like a microcosm of all the acupressure points on the body, packed with dense pressure points. Even tugging the earlobes can help promote good health.
2. Get Hands Moving at Work
The hands contain numerous acupressure points. While attending meetings, sitting at a computer, or even taking an elevator, people can just clasp their hands together at the web between thumb and forefinger, interlace all ten fingers, or clap their hands to stimulate pressure points related to moods, including the Hegu and Laogong points. With year-end holiday parties approaching, go ahead and clap enthusiastically for the skits and performances. Not only will your applause help elevate the atmosphere, it can actually be good for your health.
3. Nighttime Full-body Pat Down
Before bed, try a full-body massage. Make a fist with your right hand, and begin tapping from the left side of the abdomen, working your way up to the chest, inner arm, outer arm, then returning from the left shoulder to the left hip, down to the outer side of the left foot, then work your way from the top of the foot back up the inner thigh all the way back to the abdominal area. Then switch hands and massage your right side.
As a final tip, people tend to have poor circulation in their joints, so spend more time patting each area for better effect.
Translated from the Chinese article by David Toman