Tai Chi Massage Therapy is an intuitive therapy led by the internal energy ('chi') skills of the practitioner. To 'do' Tai Chi Massage you need to have a good understanding of Tai Chi and a set of therapy skills to apply your Tai Chi knowledge through. Every Tai Chi Massage therapist will treat clients differently, as the important part of Tai Chi Massage is that you adhere to the internal energy concepts and principles discovered in authentic Tai Chi practice. This allows you to intuitively apply your own knowledge, understanding and life experience for the benefit of the client.
In this way each therapist's expression of 'healing' is as unique as they are and each individual session is as unique as the client and the interaction that day between the client and the therapist. The way of Tai Chi Massage Therapy should follow the journey of the Tai Chi practitioner. The ultimate aim of a Tai Chi Chuan exponent is to achieve the Taoist philosophical concept of the 'Grand Ultimate', which is the literal translation of Tai Chi. In Tai Chi this is done through studying internal energy flow and how to apply it as a martial art. You can then take this knowledge and understanding and apply it to all aspects of your life. In this way you could say that anything you do becomes prefixed by Tai Chi (Tai Chi running, Tai Chi swimming, Tai Chi walking, Tai Chi eating etc).
So when you begin to apply what you know from Tai Chi to therapy, a holistic modality emerges that encompasses everything you have learnt about mind, body and spirit.
For me, at this time, there seems to be several distinguishing features to the Tai Chi Therapy I do. Firstly patients remain fully clothed. After an initial consultation where we decide what the objectives of the treatment are (setting the intent), I tend to assess the client whilst they remain standing, if that is comfortable enough for them. Personally I like this, as it gives me a chance to feel how the client is presenting their energy in movement. I often begin the treatment in a standing position, because sometimes things happen that mean the treatment should have some movements and stretches and manipulations right there and then that could not be done whilst the client is passively lying down.
When it feels right, I then ask the client to lie down on the treatment table and we take the rest of the treatment from there. In terms of the therapy techniques I use, it is primarily using Tai Chi's famous listening, merging and moving from the centre combined with the basic '8 energies' of Tai Chi (ward off, rollback, press, push etc) and the 13 basic postures. All done with intent and energy flow. Using these I send internal energy in and out and around the client's system, influencing all levels of mind, body and spirit towards a more harmonious, relaxed state. I like using intuitive accupressure, cupping, kneading, stroking, and laying on of hands and stretches etc. If a client is sensitive to it, there will be some non-touch energetic work too and other more subtle and/or esoteric, but effective, methods emerging as required. Each treatment is highly interactive and follows it's own course, driven by the overall intent for the session.
What is the bottom line after all is said and done though?
- It works.