Chi self-massage is a Taoist concept originating back thousands of years. I was first introduced to the practice when studying at the Taoist Institute and taught to do chi self-massage before getting out of bed in the morning. The idea is to cultivate “chi,” or energy, using breathing, visualizations and movement to direct life force energy through the body. Where focus goes, energy flows.
If you study tai chi chuan or yoga, these principles are familiar to you. We rarely think of a workout for our eyes, nose, ears, mouth and sexual organs, however, in Chinese medicine, our nine orifices connect with organs in our bodies (the eyes to the liver, nose to the lungs, mouth to the spleen, and ears to the kidneys, etc.) and it is important to massage and move them. Doing so can revitalize your senses and change tired or negative energy into positive chi.
So, before you get out of bed to head for the coffee pot or shower, try these simple exercises:
Give thanks. When you wake up, instead of worrying about your daily to-do list, think of five things for which you are grateful. Now, place your hands on your stomach, have your tongue touching the roof of your mouth then inhale while visualizing a happy face. Imagine the smiling emoji coming in through your third eye (mid-forehead) with your inhale and floating down your body like a feather to your feet with the exhale. Repeat this 3-9 times.
Create movement. Next, circle your ankles left and right, wiggle your toes and wrists, circle each finger left to right. Rub your palms together to create chi and warm them up.
Wake the eyes. Place the warm palms of your hands over your eyes for a few seconds. With your eyes closed look left, look right, up and down then circle them clockwise and counter clockwise. Massage your eyeballs very gently.
Notice your nostrils. Next flare your nostrils a few times and rub along the side of the bridge of your nose with your index fingers. Later in the day, you may also want to rinse your sinuses with a neti pot or sinus salt water rinse.
Massage your ears. Now massage your ears on the inside and outside, pull them down and out, then up. Rub the scalp behind and above the ears. Remember to clean them weekly with a warm towel getting into all of the crevices.
Kiss the morning. Moving on to your mouth, perch your lips like blowing a kiss, then open your mouth into a smile. Rub your gums back and forth with your tongue a few times. Click your teeth a few times and swallow. Stick your tongue straight out, back in, then out and down, out and up. Place the tip of your tongue back to the roof of your mouth and swallow any saliva, which is considered an elixir for rejuvenation.
Finally, pucker your gluteus. Squeeze the left side, right side, then together. Tilt your pelvic floor up and then relax. Tap your chest and lungs gently and rub the top of your head.
After your workout, be sure to just sit at the edge of the bed for a few seconds while you enjoy the benefits of your morning cup of chi. Remember, if you start off with a good morning, you will have a good day!
Diane Sheppard is a licensed acupuncturist and doctor of traditional Chinese medicine. She is the owner of AcQpoint Wellness Center in Palm Desert and will be presenting a lecture on chi self-massage on April 23. For more information, call (760) 345.2200 or visit www.AcQPoint.com.