How Chi Nei Tsang Cured My Terminal Illness
edited: Wednesday, November 05, 2008
By Vaishali Vaishali
Rated "PG" by the Author.
Posted: Wednesday, November 05, 2008
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My journey though terminal illness and how I was cured though alternive medicine.
How Chi Nei Tsang Cured My Terminal Illness
It all started when I was in my mid-twenties, with a small pain in the abdomen. Little did I know how this little pain would force me to make big changes in my life. The pain seemed concentrated in three points around the right ovary. It became most acute when I would bend over. The mystery pains gradually grew until they were bothering me all the time, regardless of posture or position. I did what most people would do when seeking to address something health related: I made an appointment with my doctor. He was a better listener than most doctors and took the time to do a physical examination. While examining the pelvis, he found that merely touching that area was enough to produce pain, so we agree to proceed with non-invasive testing. That started off simple enough: leaving bodily fluid in a cup, taking a blood sample, or an ultra sound test. Everything we tried was inconclusive.
Over the course of a year, the pain spread down the right leg and across the lower back. I pretty much just dragged my right leg around. My abdomen slowly swelled until there was a constant state of discomforting distention. My skin turned a pasty shade of gray with tiny bumps, the greatest concentration being on my back. I looked like a cross between Quasimodo and a heroin addict. Looking back on it now, I can understand that my skin looked this way because it was the only organ still detoxifying my entire body. I lived with a hot water bottle stuffed down my pants. It was the only thing I could do to help alleviate the non-stop pain that plagued the lower body. Due to my declining condition, my doctor suggested we try exploratory surgery. The best way to know what was going on would be to look directly into the body. The way I felt, I agreed.
My doctor and I discussed best and worst possible scenarios so that I would be prepared. The worst case would be that they might have to start removing organs. We still suspected if there was a problem, (if you could have seen me, that would have been a no-brainer) it would be centered on the reproduction organs. I was perfectly fine living without some or all of my reproductive organs . . . I didn’t need them to live. But I only had one heart or liver, and those I did need.
I clearly remember the moment I regained consciousness in the recovery room. My doctor would not make eye contact with me, and I was thinking, “This can’t be good.” He said, “I have some good news and some bad news. I’ll start with the good news. We did not take anything out; you still have all your organs.” “Great!” I was thinking, “What could possibly be the bad news?” “The bad news is that every organ from your stomach to your colon is in crisis.” He then took a quarter out of his pocket. “Your liver and small intestine are the worst. I could flip this quarter to determine which organ will shut down first, but most likely you are going to die from either the liver or small intestine shutting down, and I do not know why.”
My doctor referred me to a digestive specialist who acted like he was God’s gift to the medical profession. Maybe it was due to his years of working with the lower GI tract, that he treated everyone like they were a piece of sh*t. He came into the room, looked at the chart, and said, “I am going to run a bunch of invasive tests, and then be prepared for me to tell you that there is nothing wrong with you.” I was shocked! This man had not even examined me, yet he was dismissing me out of hand. “You have seen the surgery notes from my other doctor, haven’t you? How can you say that?” I asked completely stunned by his insensitivity, arrogance, and confrontational attitude. “Is your other doctor a digestive specialist?” he spat out in a very aggressive and hostile tone. “No, he isn’t,” I answered. “I’d be surprised if your other doctor even knows where your liver is!” He snapped with no deference to cordiality or even superficial professional courtesy. He then proceeded to load up my arms with bags, hoses and bottles of fluid, told me to reschedule, and shoved me out the door.
Looking back on it now, I can see that this specialist, unintentionally, did me the biggest favor of my life. I remember walking over to the nearest trashcan, opening my arms, and dumping all the medical paraphernalia unceremoniously into the garbage. I walked away thinking, “I am going to have to figure this out myself. These people do not know what they are doing.” I am not advising other people to abandon their doctors, but for me it was the right choice. And it changed my life forever.
I had for the most part accepted the terminal diagnosis, but as long as I was still alive, I wanted to try and minimize the excruciating pain I was in all the time. The pain of having your organs rotting inside your body is horrible; it would make you want to jump off a building. (Good thing I lived on the first floor at this time in my life.) I would sometimes lay in bed in agony, unable to move, and just cry and whimper for hours. I had to train my roommates to be neutral to my suffering, as I could not deal with their reactions and my situation at the same time. Besides I knew their panicking was not going to do anything but increase my already ‘through the ceiling’ stress level.
I heard about a rare Chinese form of internal organ massage called Chi Nei Tsang, and decided to try it. Fortunately for me, I stumbled into the office of Gilles Marin, the foremost master in this technique. He worked on me for about ten minutes and then said, “Okay, I am going to tell you what is wrong with you. I’m warning you now it is going to be extremely hard for you to hear, because you have been diagnosed as terminal and been through so much pain for so long. The problem with you is that you are not breathing correctly.” My first thought was, “What an asshole! If it was my breathing, I would have been dead long before now.”
Gilles explained that breathing is how we digest our emotions, thoughts and experiences, as well as supply oxygen to the body. “You have absorbed as much fear as a person can, and still be alive, but just barely alive.” It is true my childhood was a succession of one highly traumatizing event after another. It was also true that after the exploratory surgery, I discovered that my live-in boyfriend was sleeping with the women who were supposed to be my good friends. The widespread, deep-seated betrayal was emotionally devastating. I remember thinking that they did not even have the courtesy to wait until I died. How rude can you get! I was also working for my boyfriend’s parents, so when we split up, I was advised to find another job. This meant losing my health insurance and trying to find gainful employment while physically suffering from pain that some days would not even let me get out of bed. And worse, I now had a “pre-existing condition” which would preclude me from ever getting health insurance and probably another job. I had wanted to jump off a building to get out of the pain, but instead I inadvertently got thrown under the bus. Ain’t life grand! My life was turning into a country western song.
Even withstanding Gilles’ accuracy about my history, which he could not possibly have known anything about, the idea that my breathing had anything to do with my present situation was just too foreign for me to accept. “You’re not even working where it hurts,” I told Gilles when he started back with the massage, just to show him he lacked the correct insight into my case. “I know. It hurts here, here and here,” he said, touching the three painful spots around the right ovary that had started this whole wild ride. No doctor had ever been able to make sense of these three spots when they asked me where it hurt. And now, out of nowhere, this guy zeroes in on them without any guidance on my part.
“How did you know that?” I asked completely stunned. Gilles explained, “The diaphragm in the body is designed to move downwards on the inhale. Yours is moving in exactly the opposite direction. Instead of going down, it is coming up. It is pulled up so high in the front of your body it is pinching off your liver meridian, cutting off your liver from desperately needed Chi, life force, energy. Your liver is hanging on by a thread now because the flow of energy has been choked off for so long. The result is the liver and the liver meridian are swollen and in crisis. The liver meridian comes closest to the surface of the skin where the most nerve endings are, and then dives back down here, here and here (those three spots). So that is where you would be experiencing the most pain. When you learn how to breathe correctly and bring the diaphragm back down, the flow of energy will be restored to your liver, and it will come right back, because there is nothing wrong with your liver. Your doctors were right about one thing, however, and that is you will die if you do not change how you breathe. But you do not have to die; there is still time. You can reverse this.”
In ten minutes this guy explained my pain, how I got it, and what I needed to do to recover fully from it. Modern medicine had my case for over a year without any doctor, including a specialist, offering me any tangible insights or wisdom. I remember thinking that even if this guy is not right, it couldn’t hurt me to learn to breathe more efficiently and harmoniously. I shut my mouth, followed Gilles’ instructions, and began to focus on what happened when I breathed.
Chi Nei Tsang is designed to be self-administered, so I spent the next several years studying with Gilles. The first year of the recovery process was extremely intense. In addition to retraining the respiration and the actual physical manipulation of the internal organs, an emotional exorcism occurs. The massage is about purging the body of negative emotions and bringing consciousness back to the core of the body. In the human experience, this is precisely where consciousness is designed to be seated. For more than a year, I would have an emotional release exactly twenty-four hours following an appointment with Gilles. You could set your clocks by it. The day of the appointment I would feel great. I could tell I was improving dramatically. Then the next day, I would be an emotional basket case. The fear would just start pouring out of me. I had to make arrangements to stay at home the next day, because I was so scared I literally could not function. I had to let the fear come up and release it, without repressing it again out of habit.
During that first year I also experienced profound changes in the myofacial tissue that surrounds the internal organs. The tissue, responding to years of fear stimuli, had grown very tight and had a death grip around the organs. The combination of the breathing exercises and the emotional releases from organ manipulation caused the tissue to rip loose from the inside out, finally permitting the organs to relax. The sensation of the tissue tearing loose inside the body was a bizarre combination of blinding pain followed by the sweet bliss of relief.
I spent so much time studying this internal organ massage and Chinese Medicine, I decided to become a certified practitioner to help other people regain quality of life as well. I gradually branched out and studied both Eastern Indian Ayurveda and Tibetan Ayurveda. These healing sciences are based on body types. Unlike the Western concept of the body, a mechanistic paradigm that sees all bodies as the same, Eastern systems see every person as unique: a universe unto themselves. And it is imperative that one knows about the various body types, their strengths and weaknesses, in order to understand how to achieve and maintain optimal balance and health. Now that I have this knowledge I find it difficult to see how most people survive our culture without its benefits. I guess the truth is most people don’t survive it well.
The heart of the internal organ massage is the navel. That is the window to the health of the body. The ideal navel should be round, symmetrical and flat with a well defined rim, walls and a floor. Any distortions in this ideal round shape are due to stresses and toxins in the internal organs as well as poor or incorrect breathing patterns. The best way to get a good clear reading on the navel is to lie on the back, knees bent and the pelvis tilted slightly forward. Then, with the head resting flat, use a mirror to see what the navel looks like in this “at rest” position. If the head is lifted to see what the abdomen looks like, it will pull on the navel and the reading will not be accurate.
Draw a line with your finger directly from wherever the navel is stretched, pulled or puffy out to the outer perimeter of the body. As you trace outward, your finger will lead you to the organ in question that is causing the navel to be misshapen. The most commonly distorted navels I saw looked like a mail box slot, with the navel looking like a horizontal straight line. This line is pointing to the bottom of the floating ribs and indicates that the floating ribs are not moving in and out on the inhale and exhale. This lack of range of motion in the floating ribs is also going to affect the ascending and descending colon, as well as limit the movement of the diaphragm. When breathing, the movement of the floating ribs acts like a pump and helps pump undigested material up the ascending colon, across the transverse colon, and down the descending colon. The other most common distressed shape I examined was the navel in a slot-like pattern with the straight line pointing vertically. This shape indicates stresses and pulling in both the diaphragm and the lower pelvis. In both of these cases, there was no longer a well-defined rim, walls or floor of the navel; the navel had taken on a horizontal shape or a vertical shape. The healthy and balanced features had been obliterated by the unresolved tensions held within the body.
The navel is a powerful energy center. It is considered to be the recycling center. When starting the massage, the hands should rest right around the rim of the navel. Slowly and gently the fingers begin to make a sinking, spiraling motion downwards, with the stroke always ending towards the center of the navel. It does not matter if you massage in a clock wise or counter clock wise direction, both directions are beneficial. You will instinctually massage in the right direction, without thinking about it. The idea is to move the tension felt by the fingers into the navel, into the recycling center, so that the body can access it and recycle the energy into something more useful. Very gradually, the massaging motion is expanded to an area of about an inch to an inch and a half around the navel. Keep the massaging motion going into the center of the navel. The massaging action is timed with the breath. On the inhale hold the fingers firmly and breath into them, and then on the exhale, tilt the pelvis up a bit more and press into the abdomen. Think of the center of the navel as a vacuum cleaner that is constantly sucking in whatever you sweep into it. Always start as close to the rim of the navel as possible and move whatever tension you feel into the recycling center. Then slowly move outward, sweeping towards the center of the navel, into the energetic vacuum cleaner. There are other more advanced techniques that go deeper into the large intestine and liver, help release the floating ribs, and relax the psoas muscles, but this is the primary technique all others are built on.
You cannot hurt yourself massaging your navel and breathing deeply into the pelvic floor. This action is powerfully detoxifying, so you may feel a bit light-headed at first. That’s the toxins moving out. You may also find that your arms tire easily. If you have to stop and rest a bit before continuing, that’s fine. This action is cumulative so any amount of time you put into relaxing the navel is beneficial. Twenty minutes a day is a good minimum. It does not matter if it is ten minutes at night and ten minutes in the morning, or two minutes ten times throughout the day. No time is better than another; anytime or any length of time is useful to the body.
I like to do a bit of navel massage just prior to an acupuncture treatment, full body massage or chiropractic adjustment. It helps relax the body and opens it up from the center outwards. If I am experiencing any trouble falling asleep, it is a nice thing to do while waiting to fall asleep, since it sends a message of relaxation to the whole body. In the case of over-eating, navel massage is a great way to support digestion, plus it helps alleviate that over-stuffed and bloated feeling.
We are all designed to breath into our pelvic floor. Ever watch how babies breathe? Their little abdomens move dramatically on the inhale and exhale. Babies breathe the way we are all designed to breathe; they have not yet learned to stuff their emotions. Babies are very “in the moment”. One instant they are scared, the next happy and laughing. They digest their emotions fully, and then move on to the next moment. Adults do not do that. We are masters of holding and repressing. Breath also follows consciousness. When we breathe into the pelvic floor, we are consciously residing in the center of our being. As we grow from babies into toddlers, adolescence, then adulthood, we learn to protect ourselves from our emotions. When we move our awareness from our gut up into our heads to insulate ourselves from feeling life too intensely, that action literally hijacks the breath and diaphragm upwards with the flow of consciousness.
Nature does not like a vacuum when we move out, because the undigested emotions, perceptions and experiences that pushed us out, move in. When we learn to bring the breath and awareness back down into the body, these other energies move out. They have to. Our bodies are designed to house our awareness, not fragments of undigested life.
The best way to see, feel and become aware of how much undigested life you carry around is to do the navel massage. When lying on your back, with the knees bent and the pelvis tilted slightly forward, place your palms directly over the navel. Everything under your hands, between the floating ribs and hip bones, is soft tissue. The only bone is the spine in the back. When massaged, soft tissue should just move gently out of the way. To experience this, gently pinch the excess skin on the back of your upper arm. See how the soft tissue easily moves? The soft tissue in your abdomen is no different. It should move the same way. If you are rubbing your navel around the rim, or in the inch to inch and a half zone directly around the rim, and you come in contact with something hard, constrictive, or resistant, ask yourself, “What is this?” It is not the organs. They are soft tissue. It is nothing you ate either. By the time food gets into the lower digestive system, it is a liquid. So what is it? It is undigested life. It is undigested thoughts, feelings, emotions and perceptions. I guess we really are “full of it”!
When I give demonstrations of this work, I actually get on a massage table and let people come by and push on my navel. With not much effort, people can immediately feel my spine from the front. I am committed to digesting the food of life and letting go of the rest for the waste it is. Big or small, physical size does not matter. I am a small-boned person, but I have worked on Gilles, who is a large-boned man, and I can get to his spine from the navel with ease. But then I only learn from the best.
My situation was not a quick fix. It took me years of studying the Eastern systems of self-healing to learn not only how to breathe and digest life effectively, but also what to eat, the proper exercise for my body type, and how to balance the subtle energies that make up the human experience in my everyday life. All in all it took me somewhere between seven and ten years to make a complete recovery. I am much healthier now than most people you will ever meet.
Knowledge of how to manage the human experience is invaluable information regardless of your present health situation. Yes, I did recover from that terminal diagnosis, but ten years later, in my late thirties, I was involved in a car accident. I sustained a life-threatening head injury, and once again the terminal injury diagnosis was bestowed upon me. To this day my doctor will tell you he is amazed I survived that injury. He was convinced it was a death sentence. I know the only reason I survived and, after another decade of healing, have good quality of life, is because of the years I studied these alternative healing sciences. When the car accident happened, I knew how to take responsibility for my own health, well being and ultimate healing.
When I needed that wisdom to save my life, I had it. After the car accident I was not in any position to study anything. I would not have survived if I had to take the time to learn these skills. When the crisis arose, I already knew how to respond, what to do, and when to do it, in order to live. Additionally, I have been able to help others by sharing this priceless, life saving wisdom. There is no downside to understanding the science of everyday life and how to manage the particular body constitution you have been blessed with. Think of these alternative medical sciences as your instruction manual. No one would think of owning a car without knowing what gas to put in it, what oil to use, when to rotate the tires and take it in for service. Our bodies get us around more than our cars, yet most people ignore this valuable information. I guess that’s why your mileage may vary. Too bad that extended warranty isn’t available for the human body.
My prayer for you would be that you are never faced with overcoming two terminal diagnoses in your lifetime. And if that does find you or a loved one, know you are powerful beyond measure, and there is a vast wealth of life saving wisdom out there for you to discover. In the meantime, be sure to keep your hands where they belong . . . in your navel.
© Vaishali 2008. Excerpts from this article appear in "Wisdom Rising" By Vaishali (Purple Haze Press 2008)