As mentioned in my last post, I recently had the opportunity to study Tui Na with Jeffrey Yuen, an amazing teacher and practitioner of Chinese medicine. Tui Na originated as its own system of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), separate from acupuncture, herbalism, or other types of medicine, though it is now frequently used in tandem with these modalities. Traditionally, Tui Na is learned via apprenticeship over the course of several years. Here in the United States, one can become a practitioner of Tui Na by obtaining a three- or four-year Master’s degree in Eastern Medicine. The class I took was ten weeks long.
Ten weeks is not enough time, even by the longest of long shots, to fully learn this incredibly rich massage modality and to emerge qualified to practice Tui Na as the complete system of medicine that it is intended to be. Ten weeks is just enough time to scratch the surface, pique interest (if we want to get hyperbolic, which I usually do, it’s enough time to fall in love), and, it turns out, it is enough time to learn new ways of thinking about the body and energy work and the way that we hold emotions and to incorporate new approaches into one’s work. It is also enough time to practice specific treatments for various conditions, to diligently take notes and to leave the class armed not only with protocols, but new perspectives to play with and practice on one’s own.
In my previous post, I mentioned that this class had changed my thinking about allergy massage for a couple of reasons. Firstly, and more generally, the course focused on different energy levels of the body (wei qi, ying qi, yuan qi), and various approaches to working on and thinking about these levels. That is a more vast topic than I can tackle in this post, so I will shelve it for another day and address the second, and more specific way in which the course affected my thinking about allergies. One class in my 10-week course was devoted to the treatment of auto-immune disorders, a rather broad category that includes hypersensitivity disorders such as allergies and offered new perspectives.
One of the things that I found most interesting about the auto-immune class was the focus on sensory organs. At a glance, much of the massage protocol appeared similar to a western approach to treating seasonal allergies, because manipulation of the sensory organs looks an awful lot like direct massage of sinus areas — working on the head and face makes sense for hay fever. But, in this class, working on the sensory organs was not simply zone work — it was presented as protocol for all auto-immune disorders, including those that do not affect the face. We worked on the sensory organs in order to shift the client’s perspective. The theory is that auto-immune disorders are a manifestation of resistance — they are, by definition, disorders in which we attack our own bodies, in which we resist. The idea behind working on sensory organs is that, by changing perception, we give the client the opportunity to shift that resistance, and in doing so, to affect the auto-immune disorders.
There was more to the class and to the protocol — an exploration of the relationship between sensory organs and the marrow level of our being, an intention and direction of work to calm the hyperactive immune system, manipulation of joints to affect deeper energetic levels, inclusion of shiatsu points. There was much to explore and practice and incorporate into treatment plans. As such, and with spring upon us, I am revisiting my approach to allergy massage. I am combining the approach that I have worked with in the past (tried and true in my book) with some new techniques and ideas — things that came up in the class, but that I didn’t quite have time to get down. A combination of experience and experiment. And, because of the experimental aspect, I am offering a spring series of allergy massage at a steep discount.
The discount applies to a series of 5 massages, ideally performed over the course of a month, to address allergy symptoms and, hopefully, to explore new techniques and get closer to the root of the problem than I have in the past.