Anatomy of an Energy-Balancing Session


Tom Wilson, Ph.D.

"Man's heart, involved naturally in knowledge coming from the senses
and from the motion of the body, will from time to time close
its shutters and withdraw. The art of the heart is the mastery of life."

Claude Larre, S.J., & Elizabeth Rochat de la Vallée,
Rooted in Spirit: The Heart of Chinese Medicine
If you’re like me, and have chosen a path of service in massage and energy work, you come to a place where your knowledge of healing modalities begins to feel very rich. You have a good-sized “tool basket” of techniques. To use an analogy, the knowledge and techniques have the feel of a painter’s palette in your left hand—so many new colors to paint with, so many possibilities of what you can bring to the canvas. In your right hand is the brush, and you realize that the artistry of your work comes in knowing when and how to apply certain colors to the canvas. So, how can we know what’s best to bring to our clients in a specific session?

We know that we always have basic massage routines or energy flows that harmonize the whole body-mind, allowing us to get out of the way and simply trust that the “work works.” For sure, we can always give our clients a somatic tune-up. Yet if we believe that everything is rooted in spirit, we want to address the spirit of the person, to give our clients deeper access to themselves, to the higher aspirations of their beings. The artist treats the whole person, not just physical patterns of imbalance. This article takes an “anatomical” look at an energy balancing session, tracing what I was able to assess about the person, what flows I chose to bring to the work, my moments of uncertainty in the middle of the session, and where client and practitioner arrived at the end.

The session took place on my annual East Coast trek of holding workshops and giving sessions in Pennsylvania and Maryland. One of my regular clients, Nathan, is an 80 year old landscape painter living in the Brandywine River Valley of Eastern Pennsylvania. The session began with an assessment, which involves using our senses of seeing, listening, touching, and asking. We want to know who is here in this moment. I observed that Nathan had excellent posture, good color in his face, and his voice was soft, but clear. His overall demeanor is friendly, but there is always a trace of his being self-contained and at times distant. There were stress lines between his scrunched up eyebrows, a sign of mind energy. His tongue was a bit reddish, revealing some excess heat in the body. His pulses were strong and wiry, taut like a guitar string at both the superficial and deep levels, indicating Liver imbalance. Knowing that he has a temper, I gently asked if he was experiencing any frustrations lately. He gave a big smile and said, “That’s my life story.”

So…I felt that I knew how to enter the session. I decided to forego any preliminary active work with Tui Na and Zen Shiatsu and to work quietly for the whole session with acupressure, Jin Shin Jyutsu, and maybe finish with some craniosacral. The first flow I did was the Jin Shin Flow #1, called the Prime Mover, for its ability to get stuck energy moving, including that mind energy showing in Nathan’s forehead. The first step of the flow holds a point at the top of the pelvic girdle with the upper hand while the lower hand holds a point on the inside of the knee. As soon as I placed my hands there, Nathan asked, “How did you know to go there? Those are the two places in my body I’m having trouble with.” At 80 you may have some physical hip and knee problems; but I was starting to sense a connection between the hip and knee to what Nathan talked about when he came in: living alone and painting most of the day, not seeing many people, still interested in romance but never finding the right person. For now, I would simply bring attention to the energetics of the knees as related to flexibility in life, the hips as related to moving forward in life, and the pelvic area as the location of the first and second chakras with their respective issues of survival and relationship—and see what the session revealed.

The next flow I did was the acupressure Extraordinary Vessel Regulator Flow, which is a total body balancer of all the organ meridians and its ability to regulate whatever needs to be brought back into the flow of life. The Regulator has a number of Gall Bladder acupressure points that would address Nathan’s chronic feelings of frustration. The Regulator also has many Spleen acupressure points, which in Five Element Theory relates to the Earth element, which can be overwhelmed by Liver qi invading Spleen and Stomach. Harmonizing the constrained Liver qi might allow the Stomach and Spleen to help Nathan digest his thoughts and let go of worry. Also, when I touched Stomach 16, “Breast Window,” it was tender and congested, and Nathan winced. This point on the Stomach Meridian lives in the area of Heart and Lung, and relates to emotional holding, sadness and grief. Not long into the flow, Nathan fell asleep, something he doesn’t usually do in our sessions, given all of his mind energy. It’s been my experience that people with “monkey minds” will sometimes fall asleep in order to surrender deeper into their own healing process.

As I was nearing the completion of the Regulator Flow, I started to contemplate how to further address Nathan’s Liver energy imbalance. In Traditional Chinese Medicine’s Five Element Theory of energy transformations, I had some possibilities for unburdening and harmonizing the Wood element (Liver & Gall Bladder). I could do a Jin Shin Liver Flow to address the Liver directly; or go to its “parent”—the Water element—and do a Kidney or Bladder Flow; or go to the “grandparent”­—the Metal element (Lung & Large Intestine)­—to restrain the excess condition of the liver. As I thought of applying each flow, I was getting a dull resonance in my own body—none of these flows felt right in the moment. Now I started getting into my head, asking myself why these flows weren’t resonating positively. Were these not appropriate flows to unburden the Liver and Gall Bladder? I was only a couple of steps away from completing the Regulator Flow and I wanted to know what to do next.

Sensing how noisy my mind was becoming, I reminded myself that I really didn’t need to know anything. If a flow doesn’t feel right, there’s no problem—don’t do it. Let not knowing be part of the mystery of being. If you’re meant to know, you’ll know. You don’t need to impose your intention for a session; that’s just working from a concept. All that is needed is to bring your attention to the moment and be there with your client. I told myself to relax, to just be patient and listen. When the Regulator Flow concluded, I would either know or not know what to do next.

As the vice grip of my mind let go, I began to calm down and be still. As I was feeling the ease come back into my body, I heard a voice say, “Go to the child.” I was startled because I realized that the voice wasn’t coming from my rational mind, but someplace deeper. I recognized the voice; it was my teacher Kathleen Davis of the Acupressure Institute. I remembered her saying those words in some context in class. But now it wasn’t about context. It was a very gentle but assertive instruction for right now. The “child” of the Wood element is Fire—the Heart. In my thinking state, I had considered the parent and the grandparent of Wood as helpful, but not the child. Now I realized that I had thought myself out of considering a Heart Flow.

So I began the Jin Shin Jyutsu Heart Flow. At every step in the flow, I could feel a warm resonance in the points and harmonizing of the pulses. I could also feel the resonance in my body letting me know that Nathan and I were in the flow together. Everything felt timeless and easy now. We were there—wherever “there” is. It felt like the perfect flow in the moment for Nathan.

After the session, Nathan said that he felt very relaxed and centered, which relates to the Earth element. He described his dominant feeling as a smooth current running the full length of the midline of his torso. “Everything just feels smooth,” he said. In Chinese Medicine the Liver is in charge of the smooth flow of Blood and Qi, just as springtime (the season associated with Liver) initiates the flow of sap in the trees. The Heart Flow had harmonized the Liver. There was now a softness in Nathan’s face; he was no longer scrunching his eyebrows together. He seemed relaxed and vulnerable, his heart more open. Though there was still some wiriness in his pulses, they had a much softer texture.

Looking back on the session, I can see how all of the points and flows came together to bring Nathan back to his heart and his longing for emotional contact. I was reminded, again, of how easy it is to get into your head, to get ahead of yourself, and not let what is wanted in a session reveal itself to you. It is good to have knowledge, just as it is good to have intuition. Yet it’s even better to have intuition and knowledge working together. What’s best, however, is to sit with your client in stillness and presence, trusting the unfolding of the healing process. A voice will come to you, or your hands will move on their own to where they are needed. You just need to be still and listen with your heart and hands, and it will come to you.

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© Copyright 2010 Tom Wilson, All Rights Reserved

© Copyright 2010 Tom Wilson, All Rights Reserved
P.O. Box 2278 Nevada City, CA 95959-1945
Phone: (530) 913.1309