In the Las Semillas clinic we treat many people, some have an acute pain like a back ache after sleeping on a new bed, or sore shoulders from carrying backpacks (tourist town), maybe a twisted ankle from stepping wrong on a rock. Some people have chronic problems that manifested within 1-5 years. Generally, many of the people in these two categories can be alleviated rather quickly, even with just one treatment in some cases. Acupuncture, shiatsu or tui na massage work great with the movement of stagnated qi (yang movement) as long as one addresses underlying deficiencies (yin). However, there is a third category that I would like to express my thoughts about and that is clients, usually senior citizens, with chronic long term conditions that are 20 years old or more. When one begins to treat a client with many pains in different places stemming from chronic patterns it is good to take things slowly. These are my favourite clients not only because of the education one gets from each one due to the tricky nature and severity of their complaints, (it really tests ones patience and demands ones presence), but also because the life experience they exude is precious and the compassion I personally feel during the course of treatment is wonderful. With a good percentage of such people, the pain they have when touched or needled on specific points can be extreme and much of the time a whole massage is not possible. In addition, it is a good bet that in these cases there is a level of chronic deficiency somewhere in the body that will need to be addressed over the long term before there is a level of balance. This is when it is important to use a subtle technique and to have the patience to see the results.
Less is more
The subtle techniques (yin) are more often than not the most powerful. On all of these cases I start with tonifying the deficiencies. In addition to dietary changes and herbs, subtler techniques such as, the four needle technique with shallow insertion, moxa on just a few key points, slowly breathing into and applying finger pressure while filling the main areas of deficiency, or some Qi gong over the area, are a few examples that when applied to the root element where the patterns spring from can produce very strong results. When combining strong tonification with quick movement of stagnated areas on a few key points good results are achieved. The changes that occur can be very strong and the techniques can continue to effect change over the course of a few days. It is important to let older clients know and understand that the process may take a little while but to be extra careful when moving around. That powerful changes can occur and as the proverbial layers of the onion are peeled back, that one can feel a little off balance. People who have problems getting around and use walking sticks or who usually take it slow on stairs or rocky paths *written in rural Guatemala” may need to be extra vigilant for the days after the treatment. That when the changes occur it is a good thing and even as things unwind they may seem odd or may experience the pain changing or moving to another place in the body until some level of balance is achieved. What can even be worse is when people suddenly feel better that they may start walking briskly and youthfully leading to further injuring themselves.
The art of the yin style of shiatsu
Once we feel we have found the root of the issue and have zeroed in on the main element of the 5 elements in question we can sit with the client with the intention of directing the breath and Qi to the area. Sitting comfortably, breathing deeply with the client, with one hand resting somewhere on the clients body (the yin hand) and one hand (the yang hand) actively filling the points we have chosen to address the root deficiency we create a circuit. The yin hand which just rests on the client as the yang hand works is essential to the success of our process, as it is like the negative pole of a car battery, when it is disconnected, the yang force of the positive pole wont start the car. Gently and with the breath, breathing out, we press with the thumb or forefinger of the yang hand into the point, then breathing in we ask the persons body to guide their breath and therefore their Qi to the area. When we are patient, spending time in the area, breathing into the point with the yin hand and yang hand circuit complete, relaxing our mind and tuning in to our breath and our bodies, we can begin to listen to the body of the client telling stories to us. By listening, I mean a kind of listening that we do with our bodies. Each body is like an extra-diminsional, hyper sensitive antennae and super computer that absorbs and records all that happens during its lifetime. The perceptions of a body go way beyond what the mind can comprehend. Many times when we ask questions of the client we can hear that the client does not know what is going on, or they sound confused as they tell us what they think is happening, but the body never lies. When we pay attention with our bodies we can hear the body of the client speak to ours, telling us many things that our bodies will filter and then inform our minds on how we can further refine our diagnosis. Using all our faculties, feeling the pulse, and breathing with the person, we enter a meditative state where we can receive the info their body needs to give ours. Then taking our time to tonify the deficient elements in question, we can give very effective treatments.