“The abdominal area, with the internal organs and their internal structures, holds the secrets of a person: things we hide from ourselves. The body holds all kinds of strategies for addressing conflict, personal history, personality, tendencies. Thus the abdominal structure holds the secret of the future, of a person’s life purpose. Any deviation from that purpose brings us in direct conflict with ourselves and causes illness”
Gilles Marin, Founder and Director of the Chi Nei Tsang Institute, USA
Chi Nei Tsang, a Taoist Chinese massage technique, aims at reestablishing well being and happiness by relaxing the belly, where it said that all the memories of our emotions reside. Studies conducted by Michael D. Gershon, M.D. in his book ‘The Second Brain’ – show that the tight connection between our brain and our abdomen have allowed us to realize the truth that our abdominal (enteric) brain really is “the second brain”.
Chi Nei Tsang (known as CNT) is a specialist massage technique for the abdomen and internal organs which comes from the most ancient of Taoist traditions that virtually disappeared from China after the Cultural Revolution. It was brought to the West by Chi-Kung Master Mantak Chia as part of the Universal Tao Healing system (www.universal-tao.com). Even though it focuses primarily on the abdomen and the internal organs, in practice, it works on every part of the body as well as the client’s mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects. This truly holistic approach has brought it to the rank of “master health technique” in China, its country of origin, as well as in Europe and the USA where it is now being taught and practiced.
The belly, the “organ” of happiness
Just as much as our brain, our entire abdomen, with its rich complexity still yet to be explored by modern science, profoundly establishes our effective life. Our enteric brain in our abdomen shapes our emotions and, in return, is affected by these emotions. With its battery of neurotransmitters, and other psychoactive endogenous substances, the health of the abdomen has the power to give birth to discouragement or enthusiasm, helplessness or pleasure, depression or fulfillment. Gifted with memory, our belly contains the archives of all our emotional life.
The ancient Chinese Taoists knew this. They associated anger, anxiety, fear, worry, and sadness with different areas of the viscera. “Just some self-help Chi Nei Tsang can relieve internal pressure and create an immediate sense of well being at the level of the “upper brain” through the release of endorphins, also called the well-being hormones, which are much more efficient against pain than any pharmaceutical drugs,” says Gilles Marin, Director of the Chi Nei Tsang Institute, Berkeley, California. “By massaging your large intestine, you can help relieve yourself of all negative emotional charges.” He adds, “By massaging your stomach, you can get rid of anxiety; by massaging the liver and gallbladder with deep breathing, you can chase away negative thinking and chronic anger, and you can rebuild memory and concentration.”
Tension, stagnation, toxins and negativities – whether or not they are confirmed pathologies – always manifest themselves in the abdomen and can easily be identified as physical tension, spasm, bloating, feelings of knots and tangles in the nerves, blood vessels, or hardened lymph nodes, as well as accumulations of fatty tissue and cellulite around the waist, revealing an all too sedentary life style and lack of exercise, too rich a diet and lack of muscular tone. Soon or later, all the tensions, internal conflicts, and contradictions of a lifetime will surface and crystallize themselves in the abdomen more than anywhere else in the body. This area being intimate, often big, soft, and vulnerable is therefore well protected and usually deliberately hidden and ignored.
One of the differences between CNT and Japanese Shiatsu or Chinese Tui-Na, which also influence the internal organs by manual acupressure on the meridian system, is that CNT works directly on specific organs, as well as each of the five major energetic organ systems of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM): the Lungs and Large Intestine from the elemental force Metal, the Kidneys and Bladder from the elemental force Water, the Liver and Gallbladder from the elemental force Wood, the Heart and Small Intestine, and Heart Controller and Triple Burner (endocrine system) from the elemental force Fire, and the Pancreas, Spleen, lymphatic system, and Stomach from the elemental force Earth.
The numerous beneficial effects of CNT
CNT is an incomparable source of well being, of relief and peace, and relaxation – despite the occasional sudden and tearful emotional release – when done on a belly that starts out hard, congested, spastic and painful. It is here, on the abdomen, perhaps more than anywhere else on the body that the treatment must convey a touch of tenderness and compassion to ensure the client’s (and their body’s) complete trust.
The techniques that CNT utilizes can dissolve blockages, untie knots and tangles, release sometimes very painful abdominal congestion, and eliminate areas of very old constrictions. These techniques can tremendously reduce the fat load, help the client to relax fully, and allow vital energy to flow freely again, revitalizing the whole abdomen and beyond to the rest of the body. These techniques can also greatly alleviate or immediately dissolve negative emotions, anxiety, anguish and depression, and help reinstate a “joie de vivre” that has long been dulled. These results usually come along with spectacular physiological results: complete remission of functional and neuro-vegetative troubles such as chronic constipation and diarrhea, spastic colon, gastritis, ulcers of all kinds, abdominal cramps, and menstruation problems.
Beyond the abdomen, this treatment also works remarkably well in improving the cardio-vascular and pulmonary systems as well as in restoring sexual functions by efficiently regularizing blood pressure and body weight, reducing or completely getting rid of joint pains, and alleviating insomnia, chronic fatigue, allergies and persistent headaches. CNT also works with impressive results on all nerve pain including back pain, rheumatism, muscular and neuralgic pain of the extremities, sciatica and chronic stiffness of the back and neck.
A scientific discovery
This second brain, asserts Michael Gershon, M.D. from Colombia University in New York, plays a crucial role in the misery and happiness of humanity. By studying this second brain for over thirty years, Dr. Gershon scientifically connected the undissolvable link existing between the body and the mind, the soma and the psyche. Thus, the science of neuro-gastroenterology was born.
Until recently, it was thought that the intestines were a neutral and rather docile tube “plugged” into the brain and that they worked on command. What a mistake! Not until the works of Dr. Gershon and of Dr. David Wingate of the University of London did anyone bother to count the belly’s neurons: there are 100 million, more than in the spinal cord! Moreover, the vagus nerve connects this enteric brain to the brain in the head via a network of only 2,000 neurons. All of these millions of neurons are dedicated to very specific and autonomous tasks completely independent of the cephalic brain!
Consequently this new perspective on anatomy and physiology allows a clearer understanding of how and why people act, react, and feel the way they do; why antidepressants such as the dangerous – yet so widespread – Prozac tend to upset and compromise the intestinal integrity in one way or another. These antidepressants rob serotonin – the secret ruler of our feelings – from the enteric nervous system in the belly and make it artificially available to the brain in the head, much to the detriment of all our abdominal functions. This is truly playing with fire.
The Chi Nei Tsang approach to healing – no fixing required
French born and raised Gilles Marin, director of the Chi Nei Tsang Institute in Berkeley California, explains that the art of Chi Nei Tsang goes beyond the technical level. “Chi Nei Tsang literally means ‘managing the energy and the information of the internal organs’,” he says. “It is foremost the application of Chi-Kung, or vital energy management, to the human body.” “Most important,” he adds, “the way of touching is to be completely absent of the intention of wanting to ‘fix’ a disease. Even though CNT has relieved innumerable health complaints of the widest range, we never work directly against symptoms, we work on the person who has the symptom. These symptoms mean something.”
“The body has an intelligence that needs to be addressed instead of attacked!” argues Gilles Marin. “Symptoms are the language of the emotional body and emotions ARE NOT rational, therefore they cannot be solved. There is no solution to emotional distress. The only thing we can do is to OUTGROW the emotions, to grow out of them. This is literal: we grow by digesting emotionally. We swallow the emotions, we stomach them, and we digest them, taking what we need and eliminating what we don’t need. By digesting, we grow, we get stronger, and therefore more sensitive, and this allows us to reveal and digest our next level of emotionally undigested charges.”
”Once people connect with the emotional reason why they are sick and are able to evolve and change the way they are emotionally affected internally, there is no more reason whatsoever that they can continue to be sick. The CNT approach is a somato-psychological approach that primarily uses the language of touch rather than of talk. In CNT, a healing touch means a thousand words.”
Treatments and Training
During CNT treatments, patients can experience up to a full hour of various hands-on techniques on their abdomens, allowing them to improve their breath and to get relief from internal pressure. Sometimes they can follow and feel with their own hands the hands of their practitioner, and they are surprised at how incredibly deep their CNT practitioner can gently go in their abdominal cavity, even touching their spine without their noticing it! Obviously, there is something more than mere technique involved here! The same energy used in martial arts to hurt people is being used here to heal them instead. Extreme gentleness added to strength, the legendary hand of steel in a velvet glove, gently trains the internal organs to perform better, showing them a different way to process toxicity and to deal with chronic contractions. The training of CNT practitioners is thus quite rigorous and involves learning exercises and meditations that appear, at first sight, remote from the care of ailing people. When practitioners get certified in Chi Nei Tsang, it is like receiving a Black Belt in Aikido or Karate.
Empowering into self-healing
Gilles Marin has created a Healing from Within Guided Practices® series, a series of audio recordings on CD, to help individuals, not only Chi Nei Tsang clients and students, but also lay people, to train themselves in the art of self-healing. The Healing from Within Guided Practices® offer a wide range of different exercises for self-improvement with guided hands-on instructions to manually stimulate your metabolism for health and well-being, to improve your breath; and guided meditations to access and release emotional charges from your system. There are also lectures on life style adjustments, such as nutrition and sleep, smoking cessation and other addictions, vision improvement, simple everyday exercises for deep nerve relaxation, hormonal balancing, and even exercises to progressively help you increase your level of happiness by outgrowing deeply seated emotional traumas, negative emotional patterns, as well as exercises to help you build better self-esteem, enhance your relationship to beauty and wealth, and much more to help you improve on a regular basis.
Upcoming Chi Nei Tsang Retreats in Australasia 2006:
Workshops with Gilles Marin in New Zealand: Chi Nei Tsang Fundamentals Retreat 24-28 November 2006 and Emotional Processing with Chi Nei Tsang, 29 November – 3 December see www.chineitsang.co.nz