jeudi 12 novembre 2015

Suggestions for a PRE-MOON MASSAGE, with classical Chinese medicine perspectives

The following massage is designed to bring relief from pre-moon discomforts, especially side headaches, breasts distension and pain, digestive disorders (diarrhea and/or constipation), distension of the abdomen, emotional sensitivity with sadness, irritability or anxiety, agitated dreams and confused mind. It was inspired by a beautiful session, by my friends and mine experiences as a woman and a massage practitioner, and more recently as a student-trainee in classical Chinese medicine and Chinese therapeutic massage (TUINA), which concepts infuse this protocol. Those interested can read considerations gathered from that specific perspective in the second part of the article, while the first part, the protocol itself, is dedicated to all, whatever the level of theoretical and technical knowledge in the art of massage.

Before your start your massage I suggest you also read on Hacking with Care:

Some thoughts and tips I have shared around similar topics, in French, can also complement this article: Massage pendant les règles douloureuses. 

Enjoy, use, remix and share freely, but please do not make money with this work: it's a GIFT ! Peace and DATALOVE



Invite your friend to lie down in a supine position (face and belly up), on a table (however this could be adapted for work on a futon on the floor), naked from the waist up but warmly covered in nice linens and blankets. I suggest the use of Rose oil, because its fresh deep feminine scent is harmonizing, reassuring, and it is suitable for use (nourishing) on the face.

Shaoyang shampoo“ 


In classical Chinese medicine, the Gall-Bladder meridian is also known as the channel foot of Shaoyang It has many “points” on the head, especially the sides (see part 2 for more details)

Standing (or sitting) behind her at her head, no oils yet. 

Place your hands under the back of your friend's neck at the base of the head. Gently lift the head a little, softly pull it towards you, and slide away, leaving the head to rest on the table again. Repeat a couple of times (you should feel your friend give you more “weight” as she relaxes into your hands). Then “shampoo” her scalp making circles with the pad of your fingers, insisting on the sides. Give her the dream shampoo we all wish the hairdresser would give us. Vary the rhythms and levels of pressure, check with your friend to know how much pressure she actually enjoys (I like a lot of it). Then brush with your fingers and gently pull her hair, imagine you are rinsing it.

Clear the clouds

Standing (or sitting) behind her at her head,with or without a bit of rose oil
Place your thumbs together at the center of her forehead. Pressure and slide away from the center, towards the temples. Lift off, place your thumbs at the center again, repeat the move. Start with lines just above the eyebrows (parallel to them), then in the middle of the forehead, then along the hairline. Next, draw straight lines with your thumbs -one way only - from the center between her eyebrows (location of extra point Yintang) in direction of the hairline. Repeat. You can also continue this line across to the top of the head. Next draw circles (towards you) on her temples. While you're there, you can also massage her ears, stroke her face, neck... Friction your palms together to create heat and gently apply on her eyelids.

Lower Guard (I've got your back)

Standing (or sitting) behind her at her head. Gently press her shoulders down with your palms, imagine you're telling her all is fine, there is no threat around, you've got her back, she can relax. Repeat. Alternate pressure with one hand then with the other, as if you were a big cat. Maintain her shoulders down for a while, then release pressure. Be caring yet confident and somewhat assertive in your touch: You've got this, she's in good hands. Now with oil, place your palms on her shoulders and slide simultaneously from the neck to the shoulders, to the arm/biceps, and out. Repeat a couple of times.

The wave

With oils

The following movement is beautiful and powerful: an invitation to breath fully and a celebration of femininity. It might take some practice before you've got it really fluid, but eventually it should feel to both like a wave coming to shore then curling back to the ocean (you're the ocean, she's the shore). She has to be ok with nudity though, so ask for permission before you lift the linens.

Standing (sitting) behind her at the head, place your hands flat on the sternum below the neck. Travel down the midline of on chest towards her abdomen. Remember you're like water, so during all this sequence, you envelope each curve, sink into each dip in the terrain, no skin is left un-contacted where your hand is.
The path between the breasts generally allows for only one hand at a time, so your hands should be passing one after the other, then they unite on the belly. From the belly, the hands separate: each climbs up the body from a side, envelopes the ribcage, passes below the armpits... Then the hands surface at the shoulders, both hands slide down the posterior side (hairy side) of the arm towards the hands/ wrists, then slide up again this time from the anterior side of the arm, across the shoulder toward the neck... Then plunge below the neck (like in the beginning of the shampoo), lift and roll the head like it's a small rock caught in whirling water, slide away, and exit at the head. Repeat !!!
Note : You can't rely only on the strength and capacity of your arms for this (you never really do in massage, but here it is very obvious) : You'll need to really move your body, dance from the center, be tall and wide.

Pacify and re-unite her heart and soul with infinite spirals

Stand at one of her side, your hips parallel to the table.
Place one hand, more exactly one thenar eminence (the fleshy base of your thumb) on her forehead between the eyebrow or just above (extra point Yintang), and the other one on her sternum in the middle of the chest, level with the nipples (point Shanzhong, Ren17). With medium pressure, start describing small, slow circles. While the circle on the head goes one way, the other on the chest can go the other way (and then you'll invert). You really want to get into a groove here. Keep your arms, your shoulders low and relaxed, light like feathers. Ground yourself and draw “8” with your hips, symbol of the infinite. From the center of yourself the spirals will emerge. Let the goodness build up. 


Free from the corset

The area of focus here is the rib-cage. Standing at her side, plunge your both hands below the side/rib-cage opposite you and stroke towards you, hands alternating, like you want to bring back towards you sand that was piled down there. Your contact should be firm so as to not tickle her, and relatively strong, swift, and continuous, so as to induce a light rocking movement, very relaxing. As you do this your fingers can work a bit deeper the tiny muscles between the ribs, if she likes it. Then move to the other side and repeat.

Warm center

Massage her abdomen in circles, especially between the navel and pubic line.
If she is constipated, work more clockwise, if she has diarrhea, more counter-clockwise. In any case, what you're looking for here is warmth. Massage until you feel her belly is warmer (If trained, this would be an indication for moxibustion, in classical Chinese Medicine, on Guanyuan (Ren4), see part 2). You can place a hot water bottle here.

Rock her boat

By holding on to her hip bones, look for a rocking movement. Amplify it and guide it along the legs, towards her feet. Picture a bottle of mineral water lying down: You want the water to find momentum (in fact, you can practice this with a bottle of water).

Light legs 

Now standing at her feet, grab hold of her heels, and lift her legs a little, pulling them towards you slightly. With a movement similar to that of playing table football, only much softer (!), shake them.

Next, locate point 6 of the Spleen, San Yin Jiao, where the meridians of the Kidneys, Liver, and Spleen (all involved in the female cycle), intersect. It is approximately 4 fingers above the malleolus of the foot, and often very sensitive. Massage gently with your thumb, adapt to your friend, don't make her jump !
Next locate a soft hollow spot between the first and second metatarsal bones (big toe and second toe) on the dorsum of the foot, massage with your thumb. This is Taichong, point 3 of the Liver meridian. Careful, it can be very sensitive too !
Then stroke the interior of her legs up from toe to hips then down from the exterior side of her legs from hips to toes and repeat. 


The End (New Beginning)

Come back closer to her, tell her you have finished the massage. Check with her that she's alright (but don't start a conversation now), and let her rest a couple of minutes on her own, while you go put the kettle on, wash hands etc. (and inform her of that, so she won't feel abandoned).
When she is ready, enjoy a moment together, share a about your experiences, if you both feel like it. Never insist on getting feedback !!



A friend comes to me for massage 4 days before her moon.
She has been having agitated dreams lately, staging lots of people in many different colliding spaces and times, leaving her confused in the morning. Other than that, she is not tired, doesn't feel especially distressed, says she tranquil and rather happy at the moment. Some work she is doing is moving her and memories, though, and I do sense that she is a bit emotional. She is lightly constipated, her abdomen is a bit distended. Her breasts are full and tense, a little hard and very sensitive. She does not have headaches, but feels strong pressure on both sides of her cranium (Shaoyang). Her feet are cold, all the time, not just now. Her face and throat are flushed, red, her ears are hot (also tends to be the norm with her). The tip of her tongue is bright red with red dots and show a crack in the middle, the body of the tongue itself is not much coated and slightly purple. The sides of the tongue show teeth marks. Beneath the tongue the blood vessels are short and dilated.
She doesn't not have palpitations or any heartbeat anomalies.
She has a history of amenorrhea in the previous months, her moons are now back but the cycles are irregular, and the expulsion of blood tends to be a little painful in the first day.


Classical Chinese Medicine considerations and diagnosis 

The observations indicate poor blood circulation and blood stasis, which is exacerbated at this time of the cycle when much blood has accumulated in the uterus. There is not a good blending and distribution of warmth and coolness in the body, instead the upper body (above the diaphragm) is hot and the lower body is cold (and cold is said to “congeal” the blood, which then has difficulty circulating). In classical Chinese view, this would be bit like walking on one's head, since in good health the head should be cool and the feet warm, not the other way around. There is mental / emotional hyperactivity and pressure above, and sluggishness, stasis, below. It looks like "what is going up is not going down well", and "what originates down is not rising smoothly", as it would in harmonious cycles of constant re-generation. In other words the Taiji “wheel” is a bit jammed, and here it seems the Liver organ-system, its partner the Gall-Bladder, and the Spleen organ-systems are the ones affected in their functions and in how they assist each other in their functions (no organ works alone in the great network). 
According to theory, the Liver is in charge of the free flow of Qi, and blood (Qi and blood travel together), in all cardinal directions of the body. It is very much involved in the emotional life (and in particular associated with anger), and as the home of the spirit HUN, in dream activity. The Liver is interiorly-exteriorly coupled with the Gall-Bladder (Biao Li).

While the nature of the Liver Qi is to “rise” (up and from the depths to the surface) like the wood of a young tree, diffusing Qi and blood so everywhere will “flourish”, the nature its partner's Qi (the Gall-Bladder Qi) when healthy, is do descend, leading the “heat” back down. When both are healthy, emotions, for example, will be balanced.

For all this to happen and the “taiji wheel” to complete its revolutions smoothly (spiraling from birth to full-expression of life to return to still matter, and to life again) the ever-springing Liver needs the assistance of the Spleen, acting like the pivot of transformations at the center of the “wheel” (see diagram). 

Indeed the Spleen's nature is also to rise, assuring, among other things, the transformation and transportation of nutrients, the generation and control of blood, and kickstarting “the rotation and ascension from the left”, sustaining the functions of organ-systems Liver and Heart (while its partner the Stomach does the same on the other side, right side, of the wheel)

Here as we have seen, there is heat above and cold below, and a number of discomforts pointing to the three organ-systems named. Therefore an hypothesis would be : the Liver Qi is not ascending well, the Gall-Bladder Qi is not descending well, its Qi "inverts" and stays up, the Spleen is not "getting back" enough "warmth", it lacks Yang Qi, it fails to ascend and to fully support the ascension of the Liver Qi. With poor ascension of the liver Qi the Gall-Bladder's Qi inverts itself and stays up, the Spleen lacks Yang Qi from above, it doesn't ascend well, then the Liver Qi doesn't ascend well, and so on. A therapeutic indication would then be to support/reinforce the Spleen, the central pivot, by warming the center, and helping the Gall-Bladder down, and encouraging the liver at its 'spring". 

General principles for the massage, according previous considerations.

According to the previous observations, the areas of focus for this pre-moon massage are the channel of foot Shaoyang (the Gall-Bladder meridian on the head and lateral sides of the body), acupuncture points known to help calm the mind and descend the Qi (extra point Yintang, and Shanzhong REN17), and acupuncture points on meridians of Yin organ-systems which play a part in the female cycle and can be key in balancing it, activating blood and the flow (San Yin Jiao SP6 and Taichong LIV3). Another important aspect will be to deeply warm up the lower abdomen through Guanyuan, REN4 (I focus on massage here, but note this would be an indication for moxibustion). The whole massage is done in supine position (face and belly up) treating the Yin “feminine” side of the body. 

Below is my little drawing of the map of the massage:


After the massage my friend's face has recovered a clearer complexion, her upper body is not so hot anymore. She is very pleased and relaxed, she feels light and joyful, as well as inspired. She says she was completely transported by the infinite loop linking the points on her forehead and chest, and says this massage was the best anti-depressant ever. Breast tension has continued a bit after that, and on that night she still had many dreams. Another important aspect of the massage was having this session actually allowed her to acknowledge the state she was in, especially emotionally, to be more in tune with herself, work with her feelings and needs instead of against them in the following days.

Lucien Clergue (Eve + Née de la vague)
Robert Mapplethorpe (Hand in Fire)
Joshua Citarella (The Body, Color coded in Kelvin Temperature according to Frequency)
Acupuncture slides from Peter Deadman's manual  

THANK YOU / Agradecimentos

The classical chinese medicine case study and the general guidelines for the massage according to these considerations were discussed and improved with the help of Professor Larry Ibarra Fredes, whom I thank here. 

Obrigada also Patricia Sousa

And my lovely friend