An interview between a Chi Nei Tsang instructor and a holistic massage therapist
Patricia C. Nuovo (PCN): Can you tell me a little about Chi Nei Tsang and its history?
Francesca A. Fasano (FAF): Chi Nei Tsang (CNT) is Taoist in origin. In a nutshell, the Taoist monks of ancient China developed it and Chi Kung Master Mantak Chia later adapted it for modern day society. Basically, CNT incorporates the principles of Applied Chi Kung into visceral abdominal manipulation, thus becoming what I call "abdominal chi massage." This works on all levels of our being-physical body as well as subtle bodies-to help us get in touch with the deeper emotional and vibrational discord, which eventually manifests in our physical body as specific and nonspecific symptoms, ailments and dis-"ease."
PCN: On your website, I noticed you talk about unwinding your core using abdominal chi massage. What exactly does that mean?
FAF: We hear a lot today about strengthening our core, coming from our core, or our center. What is our "core" anyway? Simply put, it is the center of gravity in our body located in our abdomen in the area from the navel to the pubic bone. Our core is a very integral area of our body with the navel being the major player in our day-to-day game of health and well-being. Why is this so and how can we become more aware of the importance of our abdomen, our core, in maintaining a state of optimum wellness? I believe the answer lies deep in the belly using abdominal chi massage.
PCN: Why do you call it abdominal chi massage? How is this different, if so, from abdominal massage?
FAF: Good question. Yes, there is a definite difference between the two, with the operative word here being chi. Anyone can massage the belly or any other part of the body by manipulating the tissues and using specific strokes; but with chi massage, you actually massage with chi.
PCN: And how is that done?
FAF: In order for practitioners to massage with chi, they have to first connect with the chi in and around them. This helps practitioners cultivate and refine their own chi and become a conduit for these different sources of chi. This then raises their chi to a higher level, so when they do abdominal chi massage with a client, they are actually transmitting the higher grade of chi to the client. Chi basically is energy and information, so, in effect, the energy and information being transmitted to clients makes them aware of what is going on in their body. Awareness is information, and once you have information about something, you can change it if you wish.
PCN: How does the practitioner learn to connect with chi?
FAF: My CNT program includes a component for Chi Kung and meditation as a regular part of practitioner training.
PCN: The belly is one area that is not addressed in massage therapy. It is just not done in a spa setting? It is one of those areas on the body that is a "no touch zone" for most. How do you feel about that?
FAF: I feel strongly that the belly is the missing link in massage therapy. All of our vital internal organs are located in this one strategic area of the body, yet it is virtually terra incognita when it comes to a therapeutic relationship. Massage is a therapeutic modality, but it leaves out what I consider to be the most important part of the body.
PCN: Could you explain further?
FAF: As a fertilized egg, we are implanted into our mother's womb and begin to grow from the umbilicus. From a blob of undifferentiated tissue, we grow into a magnificent expression of a human baby. Through the umbilicus, we took in nutrients from our mother, as well as expelled wastes. Our body still retains that cellular memory, which is why we tend to accumulate toxicity around our belly. In addition to this, we continued to grow from the navel, from infancy to adulthood, because all of the smooth connective tissue in the body originates from the navel. So not only does massaging the belly help the body detoxify and release stored toxicity, it also helps address the root of structural misalignments.
PCN: It's interesting that meridians, chakras, iridology, reflexology, auricular therapy, to name a few, all talk about a reflexive point that relates to every system and every organ in the body. So should CNT be added to that list?
FAF: That's right, Patty-and the answer goes back to the navel. If this is the point from which we grew, then can you see why anywhere in or on the body can be accessed from the navel? Think of the navel as the hub of a wheel and the smooth connective tissue, or fasciae, as the spokes of the wheel, radiating out 360 degrees in a three-dimensional, web-like network. If we look at the shape of the navel (the hub), then we can see where there is tension pulling at the fasciae (the spokes).
PCN: That's fascinating. So, how would I explain CNT to my massage clients?
FAF: Tell them you have learned this modality that will enhance their massage by helping them get to the root of some of their structural discomfort. Then, say all you have to do is massage around their navel and their entire abdomen, and that they will most likely feel very relaxed and better afterwards.
PCN: Does CNT deal with the emotions? I've had clients have emotional releases while I'm doing massage on them. Does the same thing happen more or less in CNT?
FAF: To answer the first question, yes, CNT does deal with a person's emotions. Most people today have heard the term mind-body connection. Well, this can actually be expanded to include the emotions. Every cell retains memory, especially memory of previous traumas, and this is stored in these cells, in these particular areas of the body. Each of the organs vibrationally resonates with a particular emotion. In most instances, the body has been storing these emotions for years because the client did not have the necessary energy or support system in place at the time the trauma occurred to deal with it. Once the energy-the chi-brings the information of this trauma to the client's awareness, then with the support of the practitioner, the client now has the choice do something about it and transform that stuck emotion, or emotional charge. So to answer your second question, it is not uncommon for clients to have an emotional release during a CNT session provided they feel emotionally safe enough to do so.
PCN: You mentioned earlier that you consider CNT the missing link. Can you explain why?
FAF: Specifically because it marries the abdomen and the internal organs with the rest of the body to provide a complete and beneficial wellness program for the client.
PCN: How can learning CNT benefit a massage therapist's practice?
FAF: Knowing how to use CNT, the therapist would be able to look at the client's body in a different way. For example, if a client comes for regular massages with the same structural complaint, the massage therapist who is trained in CNT can address this complaint from the navel and abdomen, and in most instances, help the client connect with the emotional origin of the structural problem. Once this happens, and the client has the choice to do something about it (usually on a subconscious level), then the client's body will no longer need to keep the pattern of tension that was holding the emotional trauma in place. So not only will the client have received a wonderfully relaxing massage, but he or she also will have released a chronic pattern of tension, once and for all.
PCN: Can you tell me a little about your classes in self-help CNT?
FAF: Since CNT is a very interactive modality, we consider a client to be a student. Part of the practitioner's responsibility is to teach the client simple self-help techniques to do in between sessions to keep the energy flowing. This can be a combination of CNT self-massage, Chi Kung exercises and specific meditations. Since a one-hour session is usually not enough time to go into great detail about this, I decided to offer one-day self-help classes, specifically for my clients-but these classes quickly expanded to anyone who wants to learn more for their own personal wellness program.
To view the YouTube video "Ask the Expert-What is Chi Nei Tsang?" parts 1 through 4, which feature another interview with Patty C. Nuovo and Francesca A. Fasano, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7YlXGr2tIk.
Francesca A. Fasano, M.A., R.MT., certified Chi Nei Tsang Instructor and Reiki Master, is approved by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) as a continuing education-approved provider. She is also a continuing education-approved provider with the California Boards of Acupuncture and Registered Nursing. Fasano is the director of Beacon Wellness Learning Center in Petaluma, California, where she offers Chi Nei Tsang and reiki certification classes. She also teaches a Chi Nei Tsang certification program in Brussels, Belgium. Fasano can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or via her website, http://beawell.googlepages.com.