I hope everyone had a great Christmas and fantastic new year. I thought some people might be interested in what I was doing in January when my clinic was closed. The answer is learning Chi Nei Tsang in Chiang Mai in my native Thailand.
The abdominal area is of great importance in TCM, but it is also a focus of other chi exercise traditions like chi kung (Qigong) and tai chi. The key energy source of the body is the lower dantian, a spot that is usually a couple of finger widths below your navel. Cultivating the energy there is one the things done in Qigong through meditation, massage and abdominal breathing methods.
Chi Nei Tsang is a set of massage techniques for the abdominal area. I have been practicing massage for 20 years, but the Thai and Chinese methods I have learned did not include abdominal massage. Japanese Shiatsu, however, maintained it as a key part of a normal practice. Generally people want to relax during massages and they don't consider tummy massage to fit the bill so modern Thai and Chinese massage have developed without it.
But there is so much going on in the abdomen from a TCM viewpoint. The area is the 'second brain' that stores our emotional responses physically. Luckily Chinese abdominal massage traditions have been maintained in various places. So if I suggest some tummy massage during treatment you know the backstory. And if you want to try a slightly different massage let me know. An hour of Chi Nei Tsang aims to release the tension held around your major organs.