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Self-Massage Therapy

The First Steps to Working with Energy (Your Own and Someone Else's)

By Bert Rinkel
Bert Rinkel has been a Shiatsu Massage Therapist and Acupuncturist for 22 years. He trained at the Tri-State Institute for Traditional Chinese Acupuncture in New York, and he is a national board certified Asian Bodywork Therapist (ABT). His practice is based in New Hope, Pennsylvania.

In Shiatsu and Acupuncture, we work with a vital energy force in the human body called Chi. You may, without realizing it, be working with that energy. I find that after I work with this energy, I may pick up negative energy patterns. Some of the signs I notice are sore hands, a headache or a feeling of being burned out.

First you must realize what is yours and what is not yours. For example, some of your fatigue may be purely physical, but it may also be compounded by taking on too much negative energy. Below are some suggestions to take the first steps towards working with the wonderful and mysterious energy that the Chinese call Chi.

Releasing Negative Energy

  1. Bowl of Sea Salt
    Place a bowl of water with some sea salt in your bathroom or washroom. If you feel some of the symptoms mentioned above after your contact with the person you're caring for, put your hands into the bowl. Then feel the water and salt take that energy out of your hands. This method is a learning step, once you understand how the feeling works, you can simply wash your hands.

  2. Spiritual Practice
    You need to learn how to let the energy move through you. I find that some form of spiritual practice, which helps you to center yourself, is necessary.

  3. Bathe
    After you're finished working with someone, at the end of the day or before you go to bed - take a shower and wash your hair. It will help you to release negative energy.

  4. Exercise
    Physical exercise is the final step to release the energy and help bring you back into balance. I do some yoga and I use a massage roller-called a Ma Roller. The Ma Roller works with the acupuncture energy system and it's very effective for releasing deep energy. Another helpful form of exorcise I'd recommend is Tai Chi. It does not require tremendous physical exertion, but will really relax and body and mind. And, once learned, it can be done easily at home.

Self Massage

In my experience in Shiatsu and Acupuncture, there are four energy points on the body that are very effective in releasing energy. These points are called the Four Gates. There's a Chinese master in New York who says he can help 65 percent of his clients just by putting needles in The Four Gates. The Four Gates are essentially in the same place on both hands and feet.

Exercise 1. The Upper Part of the Four Gates
On both hands, find the major triangular depression at the base of the index finger and the thumb. If you feel in that area and find a point that hurts, then that's the point to apply pressure and massage. Remember that when you work with these energy points-to stay in balance-if you do one side you must do the other. Also it's best to do the point that hurts the least first because that's yin (or deficient) and to then release the point that hurts the most, which is yang (or excess). That will help to bring the energy into balance.

Exercise 2. The Lower Part of the Four Gates
The lower part of the four gates is essentially in the same place on the feet; it's in the triangular depression at the base of the great toe and the first toe. Again, find which side hurts the least and release that first, then release the side that hurts the most.

Exercise 3. Bai Hui
To bring energy all the way up through the body and release it into the heavens you can do Bai Hui. In Shiatsu and Acupuncture, this point is referred to as Governing Vessel 20, the juncture for "100 Meetings." It is said that all the energy and meridians of the body come to and release through Bai Hui. This point is found at the vertex of the head. It's not the top of the head exactly, but if you go from the top of the ear to the mid-line at the top of the head you'll find a bony ridge, and it's right on top of the bony ridge. Applying pressure and massaging this point may or may not hurt, but you'll probably find that massaging it gives you some sense of release.


To find out more information about Shiatsu and Acupuncture, I recommend the following resources:

The Complete Illustrated Guide to Chinese Medicine
by Tom Williams



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