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The Uterus is like a second Heart.

Women’s Inner Axis

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According to Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, the inner axis of a woman is what enables the balance of energy between the Heart and the Womb. I’ve seen that it is from this axis or center that women discover the true power of creative energy: to feel what you love and love what you feel.

 

Being a man it is sometimes difficult for me to understand what a woman actually experiences. That’s a mystery I want to keep for my personal life. But my training in observing and working with people’s energy, gives me some windows from where I can see certain dynamics which women have to deal with daily, sometimes without even realizing it themselves.

One I see quite often is the disconnection between feeling and love, which in energy terms can be seen as an interruption of the flow of energy in the Heart-Uterus Meridian*, known as Bao Mai, in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

 

I think it is necessary to clarify that when I observe this dynamic, it is not a mental conclusion that I can deduce from a woman’s behavior. On the contrary, I almost never have the time to even try that route, which would be more appropriate for a psychological therapy that would take a longer time, maybe even years. It is an observation that I make in the first 5 minutes of my Zen Shiatsu** sessions as part of the routine evaluation to determine which meridians I will be working with. It is 100% intuitive information, but obtained through a very organized and clear system, which is more than 4500 years old and that still amazes me every day for its speed and accuracy. It is complex to explain how this energy evaluation works. Let’s just say that some years of practice are required to master it, but in essence it’s simple. Anyway, the interesting part comes next: how to interpret the information so that it has meaning for that person and we can help him or her, take the steps needed for change.

 

According to how a womand makes this interruption of energy flow between heart and uterus (not all women do it in the same way) we can understand the unique and unrepeatable idiosyncrasies of the imbalance suffered. Howshe does it, is the detail that completes the picture and the key that allows us to understand how to build the necessary change for that particular person.

I must say that it is not a dynamic exclusive to women. The Bao Mai* meridian also exists in men (it has a relationship with what we might call the prostate) only that, in my clinical practice, women are definitely the most affected by imbalances in this area. I think there is a cultural factor that makes men not feel so affected by this disconnection (though it has important consequences also). Women instead, are affected deeply in their being as they live more intensely the emotions and their connection with the body.

Some types of infertility, inability to connect with the child in pregnancy or post partum, abortions, depression, frigidity, insecurity, low self-esteem, anxiety, repressed creativity, lack of identity, inability to enjoy (in any sense), indecision, unhealthy choices, are some of the possible manifestations of imbalance in this meridian.

Blood (in capital letters because in Chinese medicine it’s considered an organ itself and has multiple energy functions, as well as physical) is the common factor shared by both Heart and Uterus.

To give you a picture of this connection, we can see the uterus as similar to a heart: the uterus is a cavity surrounded by a thick muscle, where blood is received and released every 28 days. It’s something comparable to pumping blood from the heart at each beat, but much slower. The good energetic quality of the Blood regulates the proper functioning of both organs. The nutritive function of Blood also connects the digestive system to the dance developed between the Heart and the Uterus, and it is vitally important. When the uterus organ is physically missing because of an operation, it is interesting to note that it’s energetic functions are performed by other organs and can restore the flow of energy in the Bao Mai meridian, but sometimes that flow is interrupted, most often by emotional or mental reasons.

To explain it better, let’s look at another perspective. In Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India, there are energy centers called chakras. In my personal work system, the Heart meridian corresponds to the Fourth Chakra (chest) and the Uterus to the Second Chakra (in the pelvis) and the Third Chakra (in the abdomen). The right of the Fourth Chakra, is the right to love and be loved. The Second Chakra, represents the right to feel and be felt. The balanced relationship between them is the right to “love what I feel,” and the right to “feel what I love.”

How do you discover if your meridian Uterus-Heart is balanced?

Step 1-Visualize a channel of light between the heart and the uterus. Notice in your picture how is that channel (thin, wide, straight, wavy, dense, light, etc.), what color, what texture, thickness and any other quality that comes to mind.

Step 2-Imagine doing the journey from the heart to the womb and as well as paying attention to the image of how the route is, note the feeling or sensations that come up for you.

Step 3-Now visualize the journey from the uterus to the heart and also note the feeling or sensations that come up for you. Is it different than before? You may feel some differences between both journeys. If they are more or less equal and sensations are pleasant, your Heart-Uterus meridian is balanced.

If not, let’s look at some options:

CAUTION: If at this point you’re wondering if you felt or did not feel anything during the exercise, stop for a moment.

If you got to read everything carefully up to here, YOU ALREADY DID THE EXERCISE!

Perhaps you thought you wouldn’t have the time to do it now, or you were going to leave it for later, when you could close your eyes, be quiet and have a moment for yourself, but the chances are that if you leave it for later, you’ll not make it.

This is an active meditation, something you can do while you are reading or doing anything else. Just by reading it carefully, your mind and your body have already processed it and gave you the intuitive information you were asking them. No need to go back to it again and again. Look into your memory of a moment ago, while you were reading, what image came to your mind, body sensations or whatever you had. If you did not feel anything, then that is exactly the information that your body is giving you. It’s fine to feel nothing.

 

Please consider that this is an exploration of subtle factors of your energy system that can reflect important things about how you are standing in the world and how you relate to life. In no way implies a judgment of something that is unchangeable, or that you need to “fix”. It helps you become aware of a state of things; this is the first step for any work you want to undertake with yourself, but it does not necessarily mean there is a problem, much less a problem at the physical level of the organs.

 

If it is more difficult to visualize in the direction of the heart to the womb:

Many times we do not love what we feel; I can love another, but my senses are not activated in the encounter with the loved one, or maybe my feelings reveal or generate a conflict. My heart goes in one direction and my body in another. To judge if what I feel is right or wrong, whether it is beautiful or ugly, immoral, low, unworthy, etc., does not allow me to recognize my feelings as mine. It might mean that I don’t recognize or allow my anger, my sadness, my pleasure, my hope, my joy, or my impulsiveness and I cannot integrate them. Compassion for oneself is a good way to neutralize that judgment and to change this dynamic.

If it is more difficult to visualize the direction from uterus towards the heart:

Sometimes we do not feel what we love; love is more expansive and subtle than sensations, and it is not always so clear what the Heart tells us. It is the case of the person who feels and enjoys at the level of bodily sensations but fails to rise to the vibration of love, or allow herself to be loved, or love another. What the gut tells us (Second Chakra), sometimes helps to anchor what the heart tries to tell us and also helps us to integrate love in our feelings and our actions. Feel the love, act from the Heart or materialize the fruit of love in our actions and in our body.

 

In this dynamic, the Third Chakra located mid-way between the Heart and the Uterus, also plays a role because it is the great materializer. In this regard, having a child is the ultimate expression of the materialization (where there was nothing, a new physical body is materialized), but many things can be born if the connection to creative action is allive and strong. The demands of working life (where the masculine qualities of women are rewarded), some aspects of our education, the confusion between women and men’s roles, resistance to maturing, harmful messages from the images we see of women in advertising (sexual and body related), traumatic experiences, failures and disappointments of past love experiences are some of the reasons for the disconnection between loving and feeling. In fact, the list is endless, because each person has their own specific reasons.

 

Healing the relationship between the Heart and the Uterus create a communication channel that not only binds the parts together but it transforms itself into a sort of compass, antenna, gyroscope and barometer that a woman can rely upon. It guides, maintains balance and gives direct, immediate and accurate information of all processes of the body-mind. It is a centralizer of a woman’s power in her inner shaft. A shaft which also connects her to Earth and to Heaven and from where her loving power can be extended to every action, thing, or state of self she aims to materialize.-

 

* – Meridian- is a channel that conducts energy flows (also called Chi, Qi, Prana, etc., according to different traditions). There are 12 Main Meridians which are called, for example; Stomach, Spleen, Kidney, etc., because somehow they are related to the organs but are capitalized to differentiate them from anatomical organs. In Asian traditions, organs have emotional, mental and spiritual functions, in addition to the physical functions we know in the West.

The Heart-Uterus Meridian is one of the 8 Extraordinary Meridians, apart from the main 12 and in Traditional Chinese Medicine, is known as Bao Mai.

** Zen Shiatsu is a Japanese bodywork therapy that uses finger pressure on the body surface to stimulate functions at the physical, emotional, mental and spiri

tual level. It is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine and its theory and practice was extended by Shizuto Masunaga in Japan in the 1970s and was known in the West in the 1980’s.

 

 

Diego Sanchez is an internationally recognized practitioner and instructor of Zen Shiatsu. Besides Zen Shiatsu and his Active Meditations system based on techniques from various traditions, he has helped thousands of people reconnect with their inner selves. He did Zen Shiatsu for open-heart surgery patients at the Integrative Program of Columbia University Hospital in New York City, supported rescue workers and military staff at Ground Zero during 9-11-2001, taught at schools and universities worldwide. He is the father of two daughters and lives in Uruguay where he gives workshops, retreats and individual healing sessions. More information at www.diego-sanchez.com.

The God of Medicine

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I shared with 50 loving souls a most fulfilling outdoors seminar at the Asclepius Sanctuary at Epidavros, Greece. One more of my Chakras of the Earth seminars, this time focusing not just on the healing qualities of the Earth where the Sanctuary is, but also on the spiritual archetype of the healer.

Asclepius, son of Apollo, is the God of Medicine in Greek Mythology and this place is where people came to be purified by water and a special diet before they went to sleep, awaiting a visit of the God in their dreams. Asclepius would give them information in the dream that later the priests would interpret and design a treatment based on it that would heal their disease.

Here is the room where all actually took place for centuries. Hippocrates was a priest of this order before he went on to develop the more scientific treatments that made him the model for what would later be the allopathic medicine we have in most medical systems today.

The caduceus, a serpent-entwined rod that today is used as the symbol of Medicine is actually the symbol of Asclepius.

La energía femenina y el domingo

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Mientras paso unos días en la playa con mis dos hijas, pienso, preparo y cocino menúes variados (esta vez en torno a camarones y almejas, fruto de la bondad infinita de las costas de Rocha, Uruguay), lavamos platos, les leo algo sobre Artemisa, o la que toque en mi capítulo del día sobre las diosas griegas, insisto que practiquen los acordes de su canción favorita en la guitarra, juegan en el jardín, vamos a la playa, caminamos, se quejan que me pongo a hablar con un vecino tras de otro (mis conocidos de toda una vida), me analizan mis humores o las inflexiones de mi voz mientras compartimos la mesa, se pelean mientras tienden sus camas o se refugian en sus pantallas de a ratos, en medio de todo esto, pienso, me siento en mi computadora y preparo dos retiros (uno en Argentina y otro en Ibiza), que en el fondo tratan sobre cómo llevarnos mejor con la energía femenina. Estando separado de la madre de mis hijas hace un par de años ya, no parecería que estamos de acuerdo en como funcionaron nuestros roles en la pareja, pero valoramos los roles que desempeñamos en la familia como padres y eso es una bendición, que dará fruto en nuestras hijas. O sea que, mi relacionamiento como hombre con la energía femenina, ha sufrido sus golpes y sigo aprendiendo, palmo a palmo, a fuerza de prueba y error. Es una universidad de la que uno no se escapa y las clases son todos los días (y noches). Hoy domingo, después de las almejas, me conecté a un foro por internet, un rato antes de la siesta y me encontré citado por varias fuentes en una discusión sobre la participación femenina en mi profesión de terapeuta de shiatsu. Entre el 70-80% de los practicantes de shiatsu son mujeres, pero la mayoría de los que nos destacamos en la enseñanza de shiatsu, somos hombres. Esto parece que se extiende a otras profesiones, (la que me pareció más dramática es la de los peluqueros, cuyos clientes son 99% mujeres) y mi visión es que ahí no se aplica la excusa del patriarcado. No digo que en otras áreas no se apliquen las desventajas del patriarcado arcaico hacia las mujeres, pero ¿porqué las mujeres, cuando pueden elegir libremente, eligen a hombres en vez de mujeres? No tengo una respuesta lógica pero sí lo entiendo intuitivamente y eso es lo que invito a la gente a explorar en mis retiros o en las sesiones individuales. Explorar qué es energéticamente la energía femenina, o masculina, dentro de cada uno y en la naturaleza, nos conecta con otro sentido de las cosas que hace que no sea tan importante ganar la batalla de la lógica.

SHIATSU AND HEART SURGERY

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Just going through my notes for a presentation I’ll be giving tomorrow at the european Shiatsu Congress in Vienna, Austria, I came across this article I wrote in 2004 for the Shiatsu Society News in the UK.

They Do It In Hospitals, Don’t They?

 

Shiatsu Society News, UK, 2004

Just knowing that something you dream of actually exists can be a great catalyst towards making your own dreams come true. When I was younger my interest in health drove me to medical school, but I quit, disillusioned, shortly after. While studying shiatsu in England, a few years ago, I took a workshop by a visiting teacher who was having his shiatsu students practice at a Vienna hospital. Here I was, thinking I was worlds apart from the traditional medicine I had initially approached, when it dawns on me that actually doing shiatsu in a hospital would make a lot of sense. That “Shiatsu in Hospitals” workshop I attended helped materialize my vision of marrying the two worlds.
This vision helped me through a long time of proposing, lobbying and finally convincing MDs and the powers-that-be that shiatsu practitioners had something of value for their patients and that ABT (Asian Bodywork Therapy, as all the bodywork techniques that use Traditional Asian Medicine theory are known in the U.S. ) should be taken seriously.
I now work for the Columbia University Hospital’s Integrative Medicine Program, in New York City, one of the most renowned hospitals in the world, and famous for their excellence in heart surgery. I was lucky to get to meet Dr Mehmet Oz of Discovery Channel and Oprah fame and author of “Healing from the Heart”. Dr Oz is a heart surgeon, co-inventor of the LVAD pump (Left Ventricular Assistance Device) that helps transplant candidates keep their hearts working until a suitable heart is found for them. Dr Oz is a pioneer of CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) integration and he is the medical director of the program at Columbia. In his book, he says that he realized that a heart surgery procedure could be a success but that alone didn’t determine the outcome of recovery. Patients that had more support from their immediate circle and the ones that kept a positive outlook, had better rates of survival than those that didn’t. Thus he started experimenting with giving extra support to the ones that needed it. The way was through touch therapies, guided imagery (visualization techniques of positive images) and spiritual healing.
It took a couple of years until I got what was needed (more credentials, amongst oher things) to see the first of his patients, then I worked solely on referrals on a fee-per-service basis at the hospital, and recently the program hired me and another ABT practitioner to see as many heart surgery patients as we can every week. When offered a session (pre or post open-heart surgery and transplant candidates) 93% of the patients were interested. Of those, we get to treat about 96% of the patients between us, just working part time.
The program regards our work as a great success and the feedback they get from patients is excellent. It’s interesting to note the high percentage of people interested in getting a session, considering that many have never had any bodywork whatsoever before. Some patients actively seek us since they heard about our services even before being admitted for their surgery.
Amongst the anecdotal results we consistently see is a reduction in pain and anxiety and an improvement in the mood of the patients. We haven’t yet come up with a system to collect data that would be scientifically acceptable with the budget we have, but we want to do it in the future.
Doing shiatsu in the hospital is challenging on many aspects. Misconceptions about shiatsu being painful, deep tissue, too vigorous for ailing patients, etc., and other perceived contraindications still abound. This is what took me the most time to change people’s minds about before I even laid hands on anyone at the hospital. The way to verbally present what we do has to be done carefully, both with patients and health professionals that are not familiar with our work. Now, with the experience of approaching hundreds of total strangers with my “spiel” I feel a lot more at ease, but it used to take a lot of my energy. Sometimes it still feels odd to approach a patient in the intensive care unit (ICU) when they are plugged into so many machines and maybe still confused from the after-effects of anaesthesia. “Appropriate” becomes a big word to live by when deciding the time and manner to approach a patient that is coming from such a life-altering experience.
Another challenge is my body posture to work on a hospital bed. I learned to do shiatsu on a mat at floor level so I had to re-invent a lot of the techniques as I adapted them to working on the upright position. I must thank my teacher Pauline Sasaki for helping and supporting me through this. It wasn’t easy to let go of prejudices I had, that if it wasn’t on the floor it was almost surely not “shiatsu”. Working upright liberated a lot of my creativity to work with shiatsu, at the same time that I keep true to the principles of touch I’ve always used. As a matter of fact, all the years of experience working on the floor gave me an invaluable connection to the Earth and grounding that I would need in this job. The kind of grounding I’m talking about also helped to deal with difficult conditions like stuck bed mechanisms that leave me working in impossible positions, tubes gone astray, bleeding patients, mentally confused patients, etc., as well as in helping patients re-build their connection with, and trust in, their own bodies.
I still get queasy sometimes. I observed two surgeries in the operating room during which I worked on the surgeon’s back, since they are standing for hours perched over the patient. (We do get calls often to treat surgeons with back pain). It was very helpful to observe the operations because it gave me an idea of what patients go through. It helped me to see why I was seeing back and shoulder pain, for example. The mechanics of the opening of the chest, displacing the ribcage, results in back pain due to the stress on the rib heads that attach to the spine. The patients are tied to the operating table for long periods and this creates shoulder pain and sometimes numbness in the arm and hand (curiously often along the Heart channel and ending in the ring and little fingers).
Shiatsu provides a lot of relief for these symptoms. Using distal points to relieve chest pain that is created from the huge incisions as they heal is a frequent technique that I use. Just the thought of someone touching their chest could send a patient into a panic. Working on the relevant meridians from the feet or hands is extremely effective. More than once when I do this I’ve been told: “It’s like a weight gets lifted from my chest”. Oedema, cramps, dropped foot, numbness, insomnia, constipation, neck and back pain, anxiety, fatigue and more symptoms are usually relieved during our rounds. We can only see patients for short sessions but it still works pretty well. Some patients hire us privately to keep treating them when they go home.
Shiatsu theory explains quite beautifully a lot of the symptoms we encounter. Although I can’t usually do a Hara palpation because of tubes and/or electrical devices (the LVAD, for example) inserted in the abdomen, I rely on intuition and my own energy perception system to determine which meridians are the relevant ones to work on. It’s very important to listen carefully since a complaint of a specific issue could be a door to understand an important imbalance somewhere else. There’s no way to generalise but I’ve noticed certain trends: Other than Heart and Heart Protector, some symptoms are related to the Blood and circulation imbalances, also affecting the Spleen; some to the disturbance of the Shen, housed in the Heart. Large Intestine, in the “holding on for their dear lives”. A very responsive one is Small Intestine, for its connection to the Heart, its meridian pathway and its role in the “shock response”. Stomach and Bladder are crucial to give someone that “oomph” to get them going. It’s also interesting to note the interplay that the symptoms have with the various medications regularly administered .
The social worker that visits the patients in the ward explained to me that she resists being moved to other areas of the hospital. “Heart patients are special”, she said and couldn’t explain further. There’s a sense of compassion in the air. I believe patients change somehow after their “hearts are touched” (metaphorically and literally) during the surgery. The heart is, after all, a very special organ. It’s difficult to measure compassion (an emotion traditionally associated to the Heart) but there are studies that determined that one third of heart surgery patients get depression after surgery. Depression is a risk factor that also affects levels of morbidity and death months and years after heart surgery.
This is something where caring and compassionate touch can make a difference, and I believe another important reason why it’s important to be there.
Diego Sanchez
Diego Sanchez Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM), C.P. (AOBTA), L.M.T. was a MRSS until he moved to the U.S. in 1998. He has a private practice in New York (www.Sohoshiatsu.com) where he also teaches shiatsu. He’ll be presenting workshops in Boston U.S.A. (www.CharlesRiverShiatsu.com in October 2004) and next year in Italy on the applications of shiatsu for critical illness patients and hospital work.

 

Diego would like to hear from anyone that may be already working in a hospital providing shiatsu. You can contact him at diego@sohoshiatsu.com

©Diego Sanchez 2004 www.sohoshiatsu.com

En Busqueda de Sentido

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Apoyando a las nuevas generaciones

“Nuestro miedo más profundo no es que seamos inadecuados.
Nuestro miedo más profundo es que somos inmensamente poderosos.
Es nuestra luz, y no la oscuridad, lo que más nos asusta.
Nos preguntamos: ¿quién soy yo para ser brillante, precioso, talentoso, o fabuloso? En realidad, ¿quién eres tú para no serlo?
Eres hijo de Dios. Jugar a ser pequeño no sirve al mundo.
No hay nada iluminador en encogerte para que otras personas cerca de ti no se sientan inseguras.
Nacemos para hacer manifiesta la gloria del universo que está dentro de nosotros. Esto no está solamente en algunos: está en todos nosotros.
A medida que nos permitimos que nuestra luz se irradie, inconscientemente estamos permitiendo que otras personas hagan lo mismo.
Y al liberarnos de nuestro miedo, nuestra presencia automáticamente libera a los demás.” 

 

Estas palabras las escuché por primera vez en el discurso inaugural de Nelson Mandela, llegando a la presidencia de Sudafrica después de 25 años de prisión. Me impactaron profundamente y durante años las volvía a leer pensando que eran de su autoría. Luego supe que fueron extraídas de un libro de Marianne Williamson, una predicadora de las enseñanzas de Un Curso de Milagros. El libro se llama Regreso al Amor (Return to Love) y lo recomiendo como una de las guías más prácticas para sanar relaciones humanas y para crecer en ellas de una forma integrada con el Universo.

Las enseñanzas de Marianne Williamson han sido vitales para mis relaciones personales y las uso en mi práctica terapéutica con Shiatsu.

Permitirnos brillar, hace que “nuestra presencia automáticamente libere a los demás” por eso no dejo de compartir las cosas que me han ayudado en el camino.

El shiatsu por supuesto, que comparto diariamente en mi consultorio, las clases de crecimiento personal* y de vez en cuando alguna joyita más como lo escrito arriba y esta película que podrán ver gratuitamente el miércoles 26 de julio a las 19:30hs.

En Búsqueda de Sentido es un documental sobre las cosas que podemos hacer para generar cambios a nivel local con efecto global. Podes saber más sobre le film y anotarte para verlo gratuitamente en Montevideo en us7.campaign-archive2.com/?u=af1fa613a4fff4aa1bf82a1bb&id=4246c825ea.

Después de la proyección participaré en un pequeño coloquio con la audiencia.

* el 29 y 30 de julio es mi próxima clase del curso de desarrollo personal a través del shiatsu. Es la última oportunidad de unirse al grupo. diego-sanchez.com/event/zen-shiatsu-curso-de-formacion-profesional-en-uruguay/

Para dejar un mundo mejor para nuestros hijos, tenemos que empezar a mejorarnos nosotros mismos.
Aprovecha estas oportunidades!

Con mis mejores deseos,

Diego

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