In-Depth Interview Pg. 2/4

You also use acupressure and Tui Na massage.  How do these differ from one another and how do they work together for someone’s healing?

Acupressure is a way to activate acupoints by hand rather than through using needles.  It is static, meaning the practitioner doesn't move their hand around once they've contacted the point.  Tui Na means, sort of, "pushing and pulling".  It does not work with acupoints but rather is concerned with moving blockages or releasing tension in tissue itself.  Tui Na is dynamic, involving skillful and sometimes quite precise movement along the muscles and tendons.  It can be looked at as the Chinese style of Deep Tissue Massage.

The two work together very well.  Sometimes an acupoint is having trouble releasing because there is so much tension around it.  In this case, using Tui Na to soften the tension can greatly facilitate release.  In the other direction, muscle tension can sometimes be stubborn or recurring because a very specific acupoint (sometimes not even at the site of the tension) is blocked.  In this case, activating the acupoint can allow a long-standing pattern to finally resolve.  There are also certain points that promote overall relaxation in the body or a in specific area such as the shoulders or the hips.  Activating these points makes Tui Na more effective with less effort.

I often flow back and forth from acupressure to Tui Na, using one to facilitate the effectiveness of the other.  This is an advantage of acupressure; with needles in the practitioner's freedom to use massage is constrained.  The disadvantage of acupressure, of course, is that a limited number of points can be activated at once.

How do those two compliment Acupuncture?  Are there specific problems that acupuncture helps more then acupressure or massage?

Fundamentally, Chinese medicine is about restoring balance and enhancing vitality.  It is an approach to healing more than any particular technique, though nowadays acupuncture is intimately associated with the term "Chinese Medicine" in people's minds.

In the 1200's, a physician named Sun Si Miao put forward a theory called "The 8 Limbs of Medicine", outlining everything a doctor should be able to work with to assist their patients.  Acupuncture was one of these, acupressure and Tui Na another.  Acupuncture, as I said previously, stimulates certain processes in the body.  It is almost never a bad idea to use acupuncture (the exceptions are very weak people for whom the needling is a shock to the system, and those are are traumatically needle-phobic).  Acupressure compliments it by allowing for a greater number of points to be activated without needing to use a large number of needles.  Also, if needles have been placed on someone's front then the practitioner can reach under the patient to use acupressure on points on their back.

Tui Na assists acupuncture in that it allows its effects to manifest more quickly, and can be used to identify blocked points.  I will explain.  Often, people come to see me with a sore back.  I will first massage their back with Tui Na to start it releasing, and also to locate where the focal points of tension are.  Then I will place needles in their hands, feet, and legs because there are special acupoints there that promote circulation and relaxation in the back.  Then I will place needles directly in the tense spots I identified with Tui Na.  After some time (15-20 minutes), I will remove the needles and massage the area again.

To answer the second part of the question, Acupuncture is specifically good for complex patterns that require a sophisticated, synergistic combination of things to happen simultaneously.  This is difficult to accomplish with acupressure alone, because not enough points an be activated at once.


You also do counseling, what would a typical session cover?  Do you talk about someone’s whole life or just what is wrong with them?

In Sun Si Miao's 8 Limbs of Medicine, #1 is "Mind".  Working with the mind has been an integral part of Chinese Medicine since the tradition began. Counselling is used synergistically with acupuncture, acupressure, etc to resolve patterns in a holistic way. 

A typical session covers a person's relationship with themselves and the patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting that form part of their illness.  Everyone's mind is different and they care about and struggle with things on many different levels.  Some people have a lack of self-worth, so they practice poor self-care or actively sabotage their well-being.  Some people feel very driven in their work, so they regularly burn themselves out.

It also gets more specific.  In Chinese medicine we view the organs as having psychological functions as well as physiological- for example, the Liver is responsible for our focus and motivation.  If someone comes to see me with Liver pain or other dysfunction, we will talk about their ability to hold a vision for their future and anywhere they might feel stuck or frustrated in their life, and I will offer what perspectives and advice I have on their situation.

To answer the second part of the question, it really depends.  Sometimes what's wrong with a person IS their whole life- or to be more precise, their relationship with being alive and human.  I've worked with a few people who simply feel there's no point to living.  This one is difficult; the key thing is to discover the root of the problem and help them see that how they are feeling is a natural response to something that happened or is happening, and to show them that by resolving this pattern things can and will change.  Acupuncture is very effective at waking up certain vital energies in these situations- I have always been successful with these cases.  Sometimes it is a very specific thing that is causing a person's illness- for example they have digestive problems due to emotional eating.  In this case, we talk about their relationship with self-nurturing and look at other ways they can give themselves love and care.

Of course, not all situations necessitate counseling.  A sprained ankle or the common cold are random, external occurrences.  In Chinese Medicine, we always use the appropriate mix of techniques for the given situation.

I noticed you said you “were able to stop all Western Medicine”, how does this work practically, do you no longer take any medication whatsoever or do you take only herbs and other supplements?

I no longer employ conventional modern Western medicine, what is sometimes called "Allopathic Medicine", in support of my health.  This is not, however, because it is ineffective at alleviating the symptoms I sometimes experience.  Indeed, I am quite responsive to pharmaceuticals when I have taken them in certain emergency situations.  On that note, please don't think that I hold a blanket rejection of Western Medicine.  I feel it is the correct thing to use in severe, acute circumstances.  Also, surgery is an extraordinary development in human history.

I was able to stop all Western Medicine when I was younger because Chinese Medicine had resolved much of the root of the health problems, and was effective at managing whatever was leftover.  This was a great blessing, because the medication I was using at the time had some pretty icky side effects.

Another reason I stopped Western Medicine is that, given the holistic perspective on health I was developing, I saw that using medication prevented me from having a clear understanding of what was going on within myself.  This may sound odd, but I'd rather be sick and in authentic relationship with myself than be symptom-free and out of touch with what's going on inside me.

I currently use herbal medicine regularly, eat really really well, receive acupuncture and massage, and practice yoga and qi gong to maintain my wellbeing.  And my digestion will likely always be sensitive, since it was so compromised so early on in my life.  Like a tree bent from growing around a stone, we show the effects of our early struggles.

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