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My Multi-System Approach to Bodywork

Updated: Sep 11, 2023




Hi Everyone,


It feels good to be in the final stretch of this long, hot summer. These cool mornings are such a nice harbinger of Fall. 🍂


I’m going to be taking a break next Tuesday, September 12th-17th, so you may not see any open sessions for a few days, but I’ll be back on Monday, September 18th.


I spent the summer developing some new treatments. It was a great opportunity to try out some new modalities and expand my repertoire a bit. Here’s a recap of each treatment with links to a description if you’d like to check them out:



A fully-clothed treatment that includes slow compression and kneading of the major muscle groups, gentle rocking, and targeted pressure point therapy (i.e. acupressure) to calm and regulate the nervous system.



Swedish massage and acupressure techniques are integrated with a special focus on the face and ears, head and scalp, and neck and upper chest.



Created to alleviate the mid-summer heat and for athletic muscle recovery, this treatment incorporates cool towels, cool packs, and cold massage rollers for a rejuvenating full-body cooldown.



This blog was supposed to be a description of my final “new” treatment, Face, Hands, and Feet, but as I began writing it, I realized that before I moved forward with it, I needed to reflect a bit on my technique, in general, for myself and for my clients.




My Multi-System Approach to Bodywork




By now you may understand my method when it comes to bodywork:


I treat ALL the layers of the body: the physical, mental, emotional, and energetic layers. Or to put it another way–the body, the mind, the heart, and the spirit.


My treatment style, Integrative Acupressure for Mind-Body Balance (IAMBB), focuses on balancing the central nervous system with pressure point therapy (i.e. acupressure) while relaxing the muscles and connective tissue with Swedish massage and myofascial techniques.


Like acupuncture, acupressure stimulates pressure points (i.e. acupoints) along biological pathways on the body, but instead of needles, the practitioner uses her fingers, thumbs, palms, and elbows.



The Physical Body

The conductive effect of acupoint activation along these biological pathways, or meridians, helps regulate the autonomic nervous system–the area of the brain responsible for involuntary physiological responses like the heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and respiration, as well as the rest and relaxation response. In addition, acupressure promotes the anti-inflammatory effect.



The Mental Body

Acupressure affects cognitive function by increasing blood circulation to the brain, helping to improve memory and alleviate brain fog. Recent studies suggest that acupressure could be effective in treating patients with mild to moderate dementia, Parkinson’s disease, ADHD, and OCD.



The Emotional Body

Applying pressure to acupoints also stimulates the release of beta-endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers) and serotonin (which stabilizes the mood), in addition to lowering levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Acupressure has also been proven to be effective in reducing the symptoms of mild to moderate depression and anxiety.



The Energetic Body

A significant component of acupressure (or any type of bodywork) is working with a person's Qi (aka chi or ki). In English, Qi is described as "vital energy" or “life force energy”, but what does this mean exactly?


Is Qi the movement of blood and nerve impulses through the multitude of vessels and channels throughout the body? Is it the flow of oxygen through the lungs and into the bloodstream when a person takes a breath? The question of Qi is an age-old one that has mystified scientists, physicians, philosophers, teachers, and the like for millennia, as its existence cannot be measured, and thus, proven with current scientific methods.




The Mystical Nature of Qi



When I grapple with the concept of Qi, I imagine it to be a combination of the physical, mental, emotional, and energetic/spiritual body as it interacts with the world around it. On the surface, it is the heartbeat, the nerve impulses, and all the other bio-electrical-chemical mechanisms at work. All human bodies are the same in this respect.


But as we go deeper into our mental, emotional, and, deepest of all, our “spirit" or "soul" state, we become more and more individualized, more of who we truly are.


Qi, then, is the subtle, signature vibration emitted by each person as they move through the world around them. It is influenced by their thoughts, feelings, words, and actions; it is a person’s personality, spirit, curiosity, will, desire, creativity, and imagination–their essence–all contained within this organic vessel we call the human body. It is the pulse or vibration that body creates in space–that je ne sais quoi that makes us unique.




What I Bring to the (Massage) Table


A massage is more than just the manual manipulation of muscles and connective tissue. I don’t simply knead muscles and push blood and lymph through the body. I work with a person’s physical, mental, emotional, and energetic/spiritual body as well.


It is my goal to provide my clients with the kind of experience that not only relaxes their tired muscles from a hard day at work but also uplifts their Qi.


As a Licensed Massage and Bodywork Therapist (LMBT) in the wellness industry for nearly twenty-three years, it is important for me to maintain my own Qi so that I can help my clients maintain theirs. I do this by listening to my body, cultivating positive intention (as much as I can), and performing tai chi and qigong exercises so I can be grounded and fully present.


I create a holding space in an atmosphere of trust, acceptance, and compassion for my clients where they can unwind and feel safe, listened to, never judged, and fully present.


Personal integrity and professionalism are very important in my work. I feel it is part of my job to educate the general public about massage and acupressure therapy by presenting evidence-based, peer-reviewed scientific research in my blog articles.*


I always keep an open mind when it comes to healing. I’m very curious about how people process and integrate sensory input, how this information presents itself in their bodies, and ultimately, how they can potentially heal themselves on the physical, mental, emotional, and energetic levels.


I believe that healing happens from within. I would never call myself a healer, but rather, I am a facilitator of healing. It is my hope to expand and evolve in my work as much as possible so that I may provide an optimum experience for my clients and for myself.


I appreciate each and every one of you for allowing me to be a part of your wellness journey.


Please stay tuned for a description of my last new treatment, Face, Hand, and Feet, in the coming weeks. In the meantime, have a great Fall!



“May your choices reflect your hopes, and not your fears.” --Nelson Mandela



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*There are more far-reaching scientific studies on acupuncture than acupressure, though acupressure is beginning to be more recognized among the scientific community. Many case studies are anecdotal as healing is an individualized process.


Sources:


Longhurst, John C. “Defining Meridians: A Modern Basis of Understanding.” Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies. Volume 3, Issue 2. June 2010. ScienceDirect.


Qian-Qian Li, Guang-Xia Shi, Qian Xu, Jing Wang, Cun-Zhi Liu, Lin-Peng Wang. “Acupuncture Effect and Central Autonomic Regulation.” Hindawi Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. May 26, 2013. PubMed Central. National Library of Medicine.


Ningcen Li, Yi Guo, Yinan Gong, Yue Zhang, Wen Fan, Kaifang Yao, Zhihan Chen, Baomin Dou, Xiaowei Lin, Bo Chen, Zelin Chen, Zhifang Xu, Zhongxi Lyu. “The Anti-Inflammatory Actions and Mechanisms of Acupuncture from Acupoint to Target OrgansVia Neuro-Immune Regulation.” Journal of Inflammation Research. Dove Press. Dec. 21, 2021. PubMed Central. National Library of Medicine.


Mason Chin Pang Leung, Ka Keung Yip, Chung Tsung Lam, Ka Shun Lam, Wai Lau, Wing Lam Yu, Amethyst King Man Leung, Kwok-fai So. “Acupuncture improves cognitive function: A systematic review.” Neural Regeneration Research. Jan. 25, 2013. PubMed Central. National Library of Medicine.


Soo Liang Ooi, Gillian Drew, Sok Cheon Pak. “Acupressure and Dementia: A Review of Current Evidence.” Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. April 15, 2022. PubMed Central. National Library of Medicine.


Sook-Hyun Lee, Sabina Lim. “Clinical effectiveness of acupuncture on Parkinson's Disease.” Medicine (Baltimore). Jan. 2017. PubMed Central. National Library of Medicine.


Soon-Sang Hong, Seung-Hun Cho. “Acupuncture for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): a study protocol for a randomised control trial.” Trials. July 11, 2011. PubMed Central. National Library of Medicine.


Chunyin Tian, Yihua Fan, Jinhyu Xu, Yang Huang, Wen Wang, Shenjun Wang, Ruiwen Song, Xinju Li. “The efficacy and safety of acupuncture and moxibustion combined with western medicine for obsessive-compulsive disorder.” Medicine (Baltimore). Aug. 28, 2020. PubMed Central. National Library of Medicine.


Jingxia Lin, Tianhao Chen, Jiali He, Raymond CK Chung, Haixia Ma, HWH Tsang. “Impacts of acupuncture treatment on depression. A systematic review and meta-analysis.” World Journal of Psychiatry. Jan 19, 2022. PubMed Central. National Library of Medicine.


Flowers, James. “What is Qi?” Hindawi Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Oct. 23, 2006. PubMed Central. National Library of Medicine.


House, Margeaux. “What ‘Holding Space’ For Others Really Means + How To Do It.” mbgmindfulness. MindBodyGreen. Aug. 21, 2021.



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