Imagine a snake winding, climbing its way up and around your skeleton like a tree. Now Imagine that this snake, once settled into its new home, occasionally squeezes your skeleton – Ouch!
Just like we all have a skeleton, we all have a snake that twists its way around our anatomy.
I feel this analogy closest resembles the true nature of our Psycho-Physical make-up: latent within us is a being that when irritated constricts our vital energy and causes stiffness, pain, decrease in all system functionality and increase in stress and heart rate.
We all have heard of Kundalini: two snakes, left and right ( male/female), that wrap around a central channel that can awaken our spiritual centers. I believe that this concept is true and fundamental to our being. But what if one snake is dominant over the other and tries to take over the skeleton ( tree ). What if one side is fed at the expense of the other? For sure an imbalance occurs. In the modern world the male side seems to dominate at the expense of the female, however not for all.
The bigger the dominant snake gets the more the skeleton/tree contorts to the pressure. That pressure causes structural changes that end up in our posture, and when the dominant snake is irritated discomfort turns to extreme pain and/or loss of function and vulnerability ti disease.
We can say that an imbalance is fed by our unchecked desires and negative unconscious patterns.
What are we to do about this ? I think the ancient Yogis realized to achieve health, remove ego and thus experience higher states of consciousness, that they must control the grip that these snakes have on us. That these snakes can assist us when balanced, or, limit us when not. In many pictures that depict Kundalini, the snakes grow wings to achieve greater heights once they reach the upper reaches of the tree.
Yoga, Massage, Medicinal Herbs, Meditation, and Diet all mediate the grip and lead toward balance. Ultimately when both side are equal they can be led to the inner brain and trigger our connection to the divine.
Why is it that so many practice; Yoga, Tai Chi, Meditation, practice good eating habits, take supplements and vitamins, and yet still feel fatigue, lethargy, depression, or, experience 'burn out' after many years of practice?
It may be that our personal energetic matrix is compromised – we have 'borrowed' energies from external environment and not allowed the inherent energy to shine....
It is true that eating good quality food will help feel good, however, if our personal energy ( fire within ) is weak, then, the quality of food is less important. In fact, it is our inherent energy that animates our bodies' and feeling of well-being.
The sad part is that people can practice what they think is a valuable health practice, when in fact, they are borrowing energy and time they must pay back.
Borrowing energy can work for a while, but at a cost. For instance, drinking cups of coffee everyday may get you going in the morning, but at the cost to your guts and kidneys. Over time the coffee stops working and you are left with less energy. Another example is surrounding ourselves with lots of people and activities; we can get a real kick from other peoples energy, but, are we borrowing their energy to fill our empty tanks? When we don't have that source to draw from, do we feel deflated again. The other downfall to this is that we can ingest other peoples sicknesses and incomplete energy, leaving us feeling the same.
The same goes for most external energies that we ingest on our quest for health and well-being. We ingest something physically or energetically so we can feel better, but, we may be drinking from a poison chalice.
A more relevant factor, are externals like computers and cars. They are machines we interface with, where we must let go of our natural structure, and, acquiesce to it shape and function. The more external scaffolding we have the weaker the internal structure. The more external elements we depend on, the less the Internal ones are activated.
The same goes for doing spiritual practices, yogas, meditations;. We 'believe' in a method but end up not embodying the promises that these methods promise. There may be those that practice religiously the methods of their chosen discipline but end up making marginal gains and even regress in their energies, even after 25 years of study and practice. Why is this??
THE reason is quite unreasonable; If we are the universe/god , then, why are we seeking to unify with 'it/Him'.... we already are that which is being sought – we don't have to achieve perfection to experience 'yoga'; “ The everyday mind, is the Enlightened mind”
There is nothing we can do to receive the energetic light all the sages have been talking about.... we can only be it naturally. Why borrow what we already have? Once our real energy is uncovered, we can never exhaust it!
One can say " the breath is borrowed ", but it is our interaction with it, that assures peace.
How can we evolve in our personal spiritual practice using ancient Taoist techniques? In our current era, is it possible to have a mindful, energetic, and trans formative yoga practice? Yes, its possible ! I feel that more than ever Taoist practices such as Qi Gong, Massage, Energy Work and other self care exercises, meditation, use of herbs, acupuncture, and diet/nutrition, are, and will become, necessary foundations of modern practical health. Taoism follows nature and her changes.
A Taoist is basically one who changes with change accordingly. You can still make plans and have goals, but, because of being able to really relax, a person who embodies the Tao ( Yin/Yang ) can have better timing, clearer vision, and be truly in contact with their emotions. There is no magic, only awareness and gentle receptivity to truth. Robust health and vitality is the result eliminating the external scaffold of fear, and nurturing the inner connection to spirit.
The problem with the Tao is that it cannot be directly taught, named, or quantified. There is however, capital T Tao and lower case t tao. Tao is the progenitor of all things and all possibilities.- tao is a method rooted in tradition and inspired by Tao. As is healing and martial arts. In Japanese tao is do. Like Judo, Budo, Aikido, Karate Do and so on. A Taoist understands the whole and studies its parts. There is a unifying principle in Taoist alchemy – call it Jing(vitality), Chi(energy) and Shen(spirit). We see it in the substance and function of all things but we cant intellectually know it. Vitality is physical matters fluid essence, Energy our intent and will in bio-electric format, Spirit is non physical witness and communicator.
Taoist practice is the stripping off of conditioning and illusion by purging toxins , heavy and stagnant energy, and, allowing ones energy to be natural, easy and that of the Tao ( The Way)
“The Tao is like a well: used but never used up. It is like the eternal void: filled with infinite possibilities.” ~ Tao Te ChingIn Qi Gong we stand in Wuji posture. A neutral stance designed to be a bridge between heaven and earth. It is a very natural stance: balanced but not ridged, rounded yet erect. Standing in Wuji Posture encourages the circulation and regulation of the five elements ( Metal, Water, Wood, Fire, Earth ) and Yin/Yang. Like the trigrams of the Yi Jing ( The Book of Changes ), the Taoist Yoga Practitioner takes their place in between heaven and earth to circulate the energies of Yin/Yang and the Five Elements. In this stance, one can be invigorated and yet aware of the subtle in self and environment.. There are no motives other than standing and breathing – You can allow the natural processes to happen. You can become uninvested in the future and removed from the past, and become a part of the present. Now that this is happened you can function from a poised mindset and body posture.
“Knowing the constant, we accept things as they are.
By accepting things as they are, we are impartial.
By being impartial, we are part of the Nature.
By being a part of the Nature, we are one with Tao.
Tao is eternal, and we survive physical death.”
To be a Taoist, one has to have inner experience of their own nature – the Greek maxim, 'know thyself'. The past masters, sages and priests' devotion and dedication to union with Tao gave birth to a great body of yogic knowledge, martial arts, alchemy, meditative exercises and healing arts . All in order to 'know thyself'' They have discovered that balanced effort is required to be in accord with the natural ebb and flow of the cosmos. We are natural and our mind is connected to the source.
“Each separate being in the universe returns to the common source. Returning to the source is serenity.” ~ Tao Te Ching
Because of Taoist Yoga's practical and natural methods, it can be practiced daily, with little risk of injury. Walking, breathing, standing, drawing, whatever you are doing – you can do it naturally, easily and honestly. One doesn't need to know complicated formulas or read endless texts, one can simply relax, breathe, stretch, live simply, embody Yin/Yang,
Without going out the door,
Know the world.
Without looking out the window,
See the Way of Heaven.
Tao Te Ching, Verse 47
Depending on what framework we hang our ideas about massage /bodywork on, we can get
different modes of understanding. Throughout the long stretches of time that humans have been
comprehending Natural Medicines, our motivations and their contexts have changed over many times.
Whether in Urban and Rural environments, Religious or Secular societies, Humans have
incorporated massage/bodywork into their daily lives as a foundational exercise for great
spiritual attainments and basic health; as a basis for functioning individuals, families and
In the urban environment of ancient cities all over the world - you may find bathhouses.
A place to soak and bathe in hot-water, to stretch, to receive a massage or chiropractic
adjustment, to refresh. All right there in the heart of the city. Even ancient peoples had stress, and
they built into the architecture; a public place for stress relief. Even having water available for
cleansing the body is purgative act, and in some countries a preparation for prayer. These areas of
cleansing were thought vital for the citizenry, and for good reason.
In yet other times and cultures, massage/ bodywork was cherished by the monks and priests,
probably first in Ancient India with Ayurveda. These teachings spread throughout Asia to Tibet,
China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam and so on. Shiatsu / Anmo, for instance, was created by the
Japanese after cultural exchange with Chinese Buddhist Scholars/ Monks. Mainly secluded,
monks focused on raising energies with meditation, Martial Arts / Yoga, minimal amounts of
food and Massage. Massage was an integral part of spiritual life and an art form.
Massage is also good for repair from injury- living a mountain lifestyle in the elements can be
hard on body. The Monks of past knew that stagnant energy from injuries and stress were blockages to higher
energy vibrations and the attainment of Emptiness; the daily wear and tear of life can diminish
the body-mind connection.
The Monks developed a great skill in healing self and others, in fact, to get healing from a monk, one had to find a
healer and climb the mountain to find him!
Massage/ Bodywork is a system in-itself. Motion in stillness ,and,
stillness in motion; these systems seek the harmony of nature by practicing mindful applications.
The internal and external experience of humankind was mapped and studied - blockages in the
body are blockages in the mind. Massage is the humble work of compassion to relieve suffering through the soft
tissues of the body. We are indebted to the masters of past for their work and dedication to relieving suffering while
treating their work like a science - charting, organizing, testing, and sharing.
Culturally Massage/Bodywork can be a key to mental health of our society; when your body
feels good your mind feels good. Mindful breathing, stretching, and massage can make an ill
person healthy and a healthy person super-resilient leading to attainment of wisdom.
Massage adapts to the culture that houses it’s methods and the people that practice it.
In Greece Olympians would use massage before and after competition to maintain optimum
Hippocrates (460-377 BC) was an Influential Physician, that was an advocate of rubbing and
frictioning the body to relieve pain and stiff joints as part of his constitutionally based holistic
style of medicine. He was also the first in western culture to make medicine a science,
understand the Four Humours of the body, the 5 stages of Pepsis (digestion/elimination and
Hippocrates: "The way to health is to have an aromatic bath and scented massage every day."
The greatest massage and health systems come from great philosophies and traditions that
studied the ways of nature. For it is in all these great traditions that knew the way to health is to
allow ones own healing power to operate. This force is the animating force of all things and can
be encouraged to normalize by applying nature to nature.
There has been a more physical approach in our Western Cultures; this has allowed Therapists
and Bodyworkers to understand anatomy and physiology to a degree never before in human
society. This knowledge will benefit future generations to come. There have also never been so
many types of treatments to choose from. I think this is a sign of the complexity of our post-post
modern lives, where we seek complex answers to complex questions ( really quite simple though
The problem with massage today is the association to sex. There are those still today that believe
touch equals sex. This is because healing is not allowed to be entered in their mind. We are being
cut off from nature and her healing capacities within ourselves. Massage and Bodywork
invigorates the vitality- in a professional environment; it’s not erotic. It is a deep relaxation without fear that allows
negative patterns to escape the bodies matrix. It also works on removing adhesions, lesions, and lactic
acid deposits ( this can be sometimes be momentarily painful ).
Medically speaking, the blockages in the body are the low hanging fruit of disease. They are
easily picked with petrissage, and, treated with tapotement. This is why massage has lasted
through the ages and is poised to be one of this centuries most effective tool to ease suffering and
disease. While the basis for massage will individually be relevant, we must choose as a society
to see the value in building massage/bodywork into the architecture of our country.
Never have we had so many choices in styles of bodywork, but it is up to us collectively to ensure the future of
bodywork, so that it can be better equipped for our grandchildren and beyond.
by Frank Carone
Throughout my education as a Manual Therapist and Energy Worker I have investigated the principles of the Therapeutic and Healing approaches to well being ( I imagine I will never be done this investigation ) . There does seem to be a difference in the character and timing of the results of these two approaches. Lets look at the similarities of these two approaches: while both are usually done one-on-one, but it is possible to have a team of 'therapists' or 'healers'; both require years of training to be safe and effective; both are usually government or peer regulated. While we all can engage in a Therapeutic ( logical, systematic approach to health ) ,or, Healing Method ( intuitive, meditative approach to health ) by using our intent. Nothing goes much with chance when health is involved – by switching Intent toward healing, either Therapeutically or by Intuitive Healing Methods, one can get results.
Here is an outline of differences between these approaches:
THERAPY APPROACH: Logical, Theoretical, Body based, Text Based, Gross Physical, Prescriptive ( if this, then that ), Therapist dependent. Day by day one gets better.
HEALING APPROACH: Illogical (whatever works), Practical, Mind Based, No outcome intended, Based on Intuitive ability, Subtle energy focused, Expressive ( natural movement of energy), patient dependent. Almost instantly the problem is not there.
Both approaches are necessary. In fact most ailments can be remedies with the Therapeutic approach; there are times however that the Healing Method should be the focus. Both approaches should facilitate the natural healing within the person being treated, not hinder it. It is possible to be stuck on a healing path but never get anywhere, either a logical and pragmatic approach or energetic approach, it has to “feel” right. It has to be an approach that someone will enjoy or it probably will not work, so, a healing approach must contain a logical framework that allows healing to happen. It is by logic and outcome based assessment that we can see if we have made any change with what we have done. It is the Intuitive approach that can allow for the unknown to make itself aware and disease to run its coarse and thus diminish and disappear.