Chi Nei Tsang massage is a Chinese technique that uses the Five Elements of Chinese medicine and focuses on the navel as the centre of the body, through which other organs can be trained to work more efficiently. Chi Nei Tsang translates to ‘working the energy of internal organs’ or ‘internal organ transformation’, and applies the principles of Kung-Fu and Tai-Chi-Chuan in one integrated system of healing massage. It originated in Taoist monasteries millennia ago. Used by monks to detoxify, refine and strengthen their bodies so that they could maintain the high energy levels needed in order to perform at the highest spiritual plane.
Traditional Chinese philosophy and medicine can be classified under Five Elements, or Five Stages. These elements are wood, water, metal, fire, and earth. These are based on an observed network between organs in the body that were mapped out by Chinese doctors, with some elements corresponding to a particular organ. Fire is said to be the heart; wood, the liver; water, the kidneys. Metal is sometimes substituted for Space, and is said to be the element that accommodates everything effortlessly. The interaction of these Five Elements, their balance and working together in harmony, is credited with helping maintain general good health.
The navel, a credited Taoist practice, is a place in the body where the energy of the organs, glands, brain and nervous system converge. Therefore, blockages are easily manifested in this area as symptoms that show up in other parts of the body. The navel is also considered to be important in the process of foetal growth. Taoist practice teaches that not only do we take in our food from the umbilical cord, but we also eliminate waste through it, the cellular memory of which apparently sets the navel up as a major site for waste collection. Chi Nei Tsang dictates that by working on a series of points around the navel it is possible to unwind tension and release blockages of energy.
Chi Nei Tsang sessions range from an hour and a half to an hour in length. They involve the practitioner touching the patient’s abdomen in precise places and guiding the patient’s breathing to the areas with which they are working. This is intended to result in relaxation and a connection with the self on an emotional and physical level. Patients are advised to wear comfortable, loose clothing and to eat and drink normally before their appointments.
Chi Nei Tsang is credited with four major benefits for the patient. It detoxifies the body, helping relieve the body of excess stagnation and stimulating the lymphatic and circulatory systems. This helps strengthen the immune system and resist diseases. Chi Nei Tsang also helps strengthen internal organs and visceral structures through stimulation and correcting imbalance. It has been known to be helpful with chronic joint pain and problems related to misalignment of feet, legs and pelvis. It is also believed to help patients on an emotional level. This is based on the philosophy that unprocessed emotional trauma is stored in the digestive system, which Chi Nei Tsang helps unfold and deal with through balancing the body’s energy. This treatment has sometimes been combined with psychotherapy. Along with this, Chi Nei Tsang is aimed at teaching patients to become more self-aware. The philosophical base of this treatment is rooted in the idea that each person is responsible for their own good health. Therefore, the breathing techniques and basic exercises are intended as fundamental self-help treatments to be used in combination with visualisation and meditation in a holistic health management system.