To complement “Therapeutic Communication: Enhance Your Connection to Others” in the March 2016 issue of MASSAGE Magazine.
The full names of acupressure points can inspire therapeutic imagery during bodywork sessions, because each point has specific associations with an element, color, emotion, virtue, smell, sound and taste. These associations can serve as inspiration to create healing imagery to enhance the bodywork experience. Imagery becomes the bridge between body and mind.
Acupressure & Imagery Enhance the Moment
You can use this technique in several ways. Utilize it to silently focus your mind and your intention, meditating on the imagery while contacting that point. When a particular point is very tender on your client, facilitate the release of the point by pairing imagery along with acupressure. For clients whose busy or worried minds need a meditative focus to reconnect with their breath, body and the present moment, pairing imagery with acupressure powerfully enhances the session.
Here is an example from a recent session with a regular client we’ll call Daisy. When I enter the session room to begin our sessions, Daisy is usually lying face up with a smile on her face, anticipating relief from her fibromyalgia. Yesterday, however, just before I began the session, she suddenly sat straight up and covered her face with her hands.
“What’s going on?” I gently asked.
“I am so looking forward to this session, and I don’t want to ruin it with my negativity,” she replied.
“I understand,” I said, affirming her truth. “I have the perfect approach for you.”
While I often begin Daisy’s sessions by gently releasing the iliopsoas, in this session I began by massaging her feet to ground her while coaching her to focus on deep, rhythmical breathing. When I sensed Daisy was more relaxed and in the present moment, I connected with the acupressure point Spleen 1, called Hidden White or Hidden Clarity or more fully, to easily work pure clear energy, according to Debra Kaatz in her book, Characters of Wisdom: Taoist tales of acupuncture points. This point is on the medial side of the big toe, posterior to the corner of the nail. As the Wood point on the Earth meridian, it calms the mind when anger is disturbing our equilibrium.
Quietly, I spoke, “This point is called Hidden Clarity. Imagine pure, clear-white, sparkling energy flowing up from this point, cleansing your body and mind.”
I then transitioned up to massaging her neck and shoulders. We were quiet, focusing on the sensation of touch and breath for about five minutes before I connected with Bladder 42. This point is called Po Hu, which means Soul Door. It is located lateral to the spinous process of T3, near the spine of scapula. It is the outer shu (transport) point of the lung. The Po is considered our instinctual, earthly aspect of the soul, with all its passion, vitality, attachment and longing of this earthly life.
Grief, loss, worry, breathing difficulties or chronic stress and illness can weaken the lungs, drain the Po and scatter our qi, according to Lorie Eve Dechar, in her book, Five Spirits: Alchemical Acupuncture for Psychological and Spiritual Healing. Soothingly, I slowly spoke these words: “Imagine a warm, white, cloudy, sparkling mist enveloping you. Breathing in the white mist, your lungs moistening, feeling freer and more expansive.
“Feeling the warm, white, sparkling mist on your skin, feel your pores open to receive the nourishing moisture. As you absorb the sparkling white mist, it gradually begins to clear. Ahead of you, clearly visualize a staircase with seven steps, constructed with precious metals and gems.
“Moving forward, you can feel the steps under your feet and the banister sliding under your hand as you ascend toward an inviting, sparkling white crystal door with a shiny, golden handle. The golden handle feels warm and smooth and easily turning. The door glides open freely. As you step through the Soul Door, you feel yourself stepping into a renewed, revitalized, restored sense of profound well-being.”
Acupressure and Relaxation
The remaining time in the session was spent in meditative silence, with breath and touch melting away Daisy’s tension and pain. In this session, therapeutic imagery inspired by the names and functions of acupressure points transformed Daisy’s body-mind experience.
“I feel more relaxed than I’ve been in a long time,” she told me. “I have a renewed sense of strength, clarity and hope.”
Anna Lunaria has 25 years of professional bodywork experience. She is also a yoga therapist and certified hypnotherapist, and has recently completed a master’s degree in acupuncture. Lunaria is a National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork-approved continuing education provider, and has taught anatomy and massage classes since 1998. She wrote “Therapeutic Communication: Enhance Your Connection to Others” for the March 2016 issue of MASSAGE Magazine.