What Is Chi Nei Tsang?
Gilles describes it as "Healing From Within"...
Developed by the White Cloud Taoist Monks in ancient China, Chi Nei Tsang is a holistic approach to the healing touch modality. It integrates the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of our being. CNT goes to the very origin of health problems, including psychosomatic and emotional responses. It effectively addresses chronic conditions including digestive problems, headaches, chronic fatigue, menstrual cramps, sciatica, uterine fibroids, infertility, insomnia, depression- the list goes on and on...
Chi Nei Tsang literally means “working the energy of the internal organs” or “internal organs chi transformation.” CNT uses all the principles of Kung-Fu and Tai Chi Chuan known as Chi-Kung; therefore, CNT is a form of “applied Chi Kung.”
Why Learn Chi Nei Tsang?
CNT practitioners are trained in Chi-Kung and work mainly on the abdomen with deep, soft and gentle touches, to train internal organs to work more efficiently. Unprocessed emotional charges are also addressed in this manner, as well as all of the body systems: digestive, respiratory, cardiovascular, lymphatic, nervous, endocrine, urinary, reproductive, muscular-skeletal, and the acupuncture meridian system (Chi). Gilles continues here ...
"Emotional digestion is just as natural of a phenomenon as breathing or digesting food. Like breath or digestion, it usually remains non-‐conscious. However, if we pay attention to our breathing we won’t be able not to improve it, and being conscious of our digestion allows us to improve our diet. Similar to breathing and digesting, our consciousness is able to aid the performance of emotional digestion. But this is done through the body’s intelligence, which does not require thinking. This is why we don’t need to be intelligent to heal."
Read more about the relationship between intestinal and emotional distress in Gilles' recent article Intestinal Distress and the Gentle Healing Power of Chi Nei Tsang.
Amy Moon of the San Francisco Chronicle writes:
"Chi Nei Tsang Master Gilles Marin ...
... palpates my internal organs to promote greater enjoyment of life."
Sometimes you just know you're going to like someone -- I think of a woman I met at a cocktail party once who told me she saw the sleeve of her boyfriend's sport coat as he came through the door at a friend's house and knew he was the one.
It was like that for me with Gilles Marin, founder and director of the Chi Nei Tsang Institute in Berkeley. Actually, not quite. My knowing was a little less ephemeral. I'd read an excerpt from his book Healing From Within with Chi Nei Tsang which said:
"'For health and happiness everything in life is to be enjoyed. To keep enjoying it, take every-thing in moderation, including moderation!' Dr. Chang, one of my most influential teachers, used to say that it is healthier to get very drunk once a month than to drink a glass of wine or beer every day, since our body does not have time in twenty-four hours to detoxify completely from alcohol. Drinking only once a month, even if we get drunk, will allow the body enough time to detoxify completely."
Immediately thought, "Oh, I like this guy." Just for the record, it's not as if I'm such a big drinker, but so many of these Mind Body Spirit practices tend toward discipline, a certain level of purification and, yes, the dreaded perfectionism. And my tendency slides much more toward the opposite end of the spectrum. Although, admittedly, I'm not so happy about that. Nonetheless, while I feel this pressure to go toward the light, another part of me really appreciates the reasonable voice, the one that winks and says: "Go ahead, have fun. Quit being so serious."
So I was looking forward to meeting Marin and experiencing Chi Nei Tsang, which I described in my last editorial meeting as "internal tai chi or chi kung," and after receiving bemused blank stares, I'd added, "It's centered in Berkeley." At which everyone laughed. To which I then felt like adding, "Hey wait, it's not like that."
Within minutes of ushering me into the office, which felt really cozy and, yes, healing -- as much as an office can -- we had already exchanged at least a few rounds of pleasantries and giggles before settling into a treatment room. His laughter was full bodied, like a cross between a chuckle and a deep belly laugh. And I was laughing, too. That, in and of itself, felt healing.
Being totally relaxed is a good place to be because basically what Chi Nei Tsang practitioners do is massage your internal organs. This is how Marin describes it: "My hands are in your guts, and your feelings are sandwiched between my hands and your breath."
It's a Taoist healing modality that doesn't really lend itself to a purely technical or physiological explanation, because, as he explained, there is no separation between mind, body and spirit. They are the same. "People get pain because it's easier to take pain at a physical level than an emotional one. "
The way I understand it is the practitioner palpates your abdomen or, more specifically, the fascia, which is the connective tissue between organs, muscles, tendons -- everything in there. It is a truly holistic healing approach which applies the Taoist concept of Five Elements -- Fire, Water, Earth, Wood and Metal -- as they relate to our internal organs and the way chi flows through them, to address our whole being. By moving the chi or "life force energy," negative energies and blockages are released -- freeing you up to physical, emotional and spiritual health.
Chi Nei Tsang has been successfully used to reduce or eliminate chronic pain and to treat conditions such as headaches, menstrual cramps, sciatica, fibroids, infertility, impotence and prostate problems as well as depression...
According to Marin, emotions come from the body -- specifically, the guts -- and not from the mind, and the way to heal is to focus directly on this area. "Touch is important because emotions come from the physical," he says. "It's not mental. The mental part is just interpretation... Too much thinking doesn't work, because then you're in problem-solving mode and anything you think about turns into a problem so you can solve it," he says. "We are thinking all the time." He laughs and shrugs. "There's no solution. It just makes it worse."
As my session ends, I notice that twilight has fallen in the room. I share a cup of tea with him, and he says: "There is no limit to self-growth. Healing is not about getting rid of a disease, it's to allow the body to live, enjoy life and grow as a person. "
"How do you know you're healed?" he asks me with a smile. "You feel good. You look back and say, 'Oh yeah, I used to feel that way.'"
As for me, I feel like my initial hunch was right. I knew I would like him. And that he would have something to offer me.
So many of these Mind Body Spirit practices are similar in that they promote letting yourself accept where you are. Not medicating pain but being with it and letting it flow through you. Letting the body heal itself. And being supported in your efforts to heal.
With so many options, which one you choose has to do with your personal preference. What appeals to you. The same with finding a practitioner. Ultimately, you have to go with your gut.