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Asian Bodywork Therapy

By Pamela Ellen Ferguson, Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA® and GSD-CI, LMT (TX)

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The Zen Art of "One Point"

We were always told in our Zen Shiatsu training (by Japanese and Japanese American instructors) that our ultimate aim was to to find that "One Point." To be so focused we could touch just one point to transform Qi throughout a client's body. It's an art requiring not only focus, but trust to block the monkey mind from doubting or dismissing the sheer simplicity of the theory. To find that point in a glance. To fix a point with your eye first of all.

My ABT graduates – some of whom are also LAcs are amazed when their clients say, "You hit bullseye! How did you know?"


Try applying the "one point" theory before a lot of fancy diagnostic procedures. It's a good "ice breaker." I'll hit one point, and if the client is someone I know well, I'll ask him or her, "now why did I zoom in there?" If it's a point on the stomach meridian on the quadriceps, I run through the usual associated questions about gastric upsets or problems with cycles or "jogging stress" as I continue along the meridian and watch for reactions. If none of the above resonates, I return to the original point and ask if there are any family problems concerning children or parents? If this resonates, the point will literally jump into my hand. If that's all the client chooses to share, I honor it. I simply store the info.

If the point is along the GB meridian, it's helpful to ask, "What decisions are you trying to make?" Even if the question is way off mark, it can prompt thought and dialogue on a variety of issues, from sugar overload to recent problems with fat intake, or problems related to years on the pill. Or anger turned inward.

If the vulnerable point is on the pericardium, I'll ask diplomatically if close relationships are in any way troubling at this time? I often dub it the "divorce meridian." Or perhaps there's a problem with insomnia? If the challenge is related to circulation – I may choose to elevate the client's legs perpendicular to his or her body to work the feet.

If the bullseye happens to be on the San Jiao, ask if the client has been traveling recently or still experiencing jetlag? I always find vulnerability in the SJ after a long journey or jet lag and nickname it "the traveler's meridian." Of course, other questions related to the immune system may relate to recent colds or flu- like symptoms.

But if the San Jiao point feels dead, and I mean dead with no resonance at all, I may suspect former drug use. The latter observation isn't textbook. It was prompted by my experience in New York City working on a lot of performing artists and wondering why their San Jiaos felt so totally without resonance?

Points On Other Meridians

Spleen? Is the client obsessing or worrying about something to the extent they can't think about anything else? If so, the spleen point will have a very different vibratory frequency from, say Spleen 6 in a client with chronic menstrual problems, or experiencing spleen deficiency after giving birth.

Lung? Aside from obvious questions about colds or flu or chest complaints, I wonder if the client is holding on to unresolved grief? However, I usually discover the latter more frequently in a blocked large intestine point.

Heart? Aside from obvious questions (physical or emotional), I often ask if the client is having communication problems, or problems delivering a lecture or speech.

Small Intestine? Is the client having problems with absorption? Or more specifically, with absorbing and digesting a lot of facts? I dub small intestine the, "student's meridian" because it is always compromised during cramming around examtime!

A Liver point? Wow. Especially if Liver 1 is so tight, the big toe sticks up perpendicular to the client's foot! Using humor is perhaps the best way of discovering if a client has unresolved anger issues.

And Those Water Points?

There is something very deep about a kidney point that calls you. Or to be more specific, UB23, Kidney Back Shu is a profound memory vault, so I usually support it with the palm of my hand if drawn there. Sure, it helps ease lower back pain and menstrual problems, but my clinical experience has discovered hidden layers of associations there, too. Sometimes memories unfold, without any prompting.

On a more practical note, I'm often drawn to the UB 60/Kidney 3 area with marathon runners and daily jogging enthusiasts. Hold those points gently. They are often very tight. Bend and flex the foot while supporting them.

Let the point talk to you. It may not be a point you recognize, or may be on an area of the meridian absent of points. Be open. The subtlety or unique language of the point in that instant will tell you if the problem is just related to stress after a work out. Or something deep and far more complex. Trust. Sensing the difference is an art unto itself.

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