ENERGY THERAPIES: East and West
By Moss Arnold & Sharon Windle at Chi Medics™
Moss Arnold, Bachelor of Arts (majors in Education and Chinese History and philosophy) has studied energy work for many years largely from the Chinese Philosophy perspective, but his first therapy training was in Spiritual and Chakra work. Sharon and Moss have discussed using energy for many years and thought it would be of interest to those who are unfamiliar with energy, those who are interested in energy and those who work with energy.
What is energy? It is probably one of the hardest questions to answer simply and clearly. There are four types of energy:
Physical energy: the body’s ability to perform tasks. Physical therapies including Western Industrial Medicine, Sports therapies, etc.
Emotional energy: the fuel behind emotional responses. Emotional healing, Shamanism, etc. and as it is the end of the Age of Pisces, the major energy currently used.
Mental energy: the fuel behind mental processes; Mental health therapies, meditation, etc. and
Spiritual energy: the fuel behind the soul, spirit, essence, life-force, etc. Spiritual practices such as meditation.
Logically, energy therapies can do harm if they can do good, and so it is extremely important to have a thorough and detailed theoretical basis, knowledge and experience to decrease its misuse and resultant harm.
In the Chinese philosophy, everything in the universe is composed of Chi (energy) and nothing can exist in the universe without being composed of Chi. It is the building blocks of the universe. And so in the human being all four of the energies of the human existence (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual) is composed of Chi. So by working Chi you effect all four levels without having to deal with any one. It is a truly wholistic approach, and one that manifestations of any and/or all of the four levels, are simply messages about the imbalances of Chi. Balance the Chi and these messages disappear.
Ayurvedic (prana) has basically the same energy foundations too, although there are culturally defined differences. So these are probably the major and possibly only approaches that by this definition are wholistic as they deal with energy and all four levels of existence.
The basis of the Chinese philosophy is Taoism (pronounced Daoism). They observed nature and the world and developed a method of understanding the Universe via Chi and Yin/Yang leading to the ‘middle way’ or the Tao (pronounced Dao).
Energy theories are in many ancient traditions including Chinese and Indian(where there were cultural exchanges influences during their evolution) which are the most common and popular, although they are not the only ones. Energy is predominantly known as:
Chi or more correctly Qi to the Chinese;
Ki to the Japanese;
Prana from Ayurvedic traditions including the Chakras to the Indians.
Energy therapies have become extremely popular for a variety of reasons and these two definitions of energy (Chi or Qi and Prana/Chakras) have dominated. The West, historically quite recently, have taken many of these energy concepts and applied them to various therapies including acupuncture and acupressure, Bowen and Emmett, Chakra work, Chi-Reflexology, Massage, Qigong, Reflexology, Reiki, Shiatsu, Tai Chi, Touch for Health and Kinesiology, Trigger Point Therapy, Yoga, etc. This list is actually endless as there are so many therapies that now either add or include energy as part of the approach. This includes the concept of vibrational therapies and vibrational medicine, which is an alternative explanation of energy as such, making it more appealing to western minds medicine.
Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have thorough and extensive theoretic, logical and practical foundations rooted in history. Of these two, TCM such as acupuncture, is the most widely accepted in the west. As it has a strong foundation of knowledge upon which it is based, it is the most challenging to understand and apply. It is so much easier for people to simply take a part of the whole, usually without its philosophical context, and use it divorced from its philosophic and cultural context. Thus resulting in a simplified, non-wholistic and symptomatic therapy, for example Acupuncture compared to dry needling.
TCM is using both the knowledge and science and the intuitive senses combined to understand all phenomena in the universe. It is a different philosophy, and it is thus the most difficult for the western mind to grasp. It is another form of logic that once understood, opens a whole new world of understanding and possibilities. It is about options rather than answers. It is about messages of the body and their possible interpretations. This is where the Chinese philosophy comes in as it is designed to increase your intuitive abilities through the solid theoretical framework and knowledge from which to draw. Yin and Yang.
One further point worth mentioning here is that the Chinese philosophy (based on Taoism) permeates all aspects of life and is the foundation of all the Chinese arts (Numerology, Astrology, I Ching, Feng Shui, etc.), including Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), but it is applied differently for different uses. For example, Feng Shui understanding of the Five Phases Theory (commonly known as the Five Elements Theory) is significantly different to TCM as in Feng Shui you can treat an element or phase but in TCM you cannot.
Many of the Chinese arts, as it spread to the west, have been taken out of the philosophical context, and it was simplified and modified to be acceptable to western thinking. For example Spleen Chi was modified to Spleen/Pancreas as the Spleen has no physical connection to digestion. And yet the Spleen Chi actually has a major Chi function in absorption. Without the Chinese philosophical context, the arts are changed.
Much of what has been shared by the Chinese reflects the fact that they believe that non-Chinese cannot truly understand the ancient art. So it has been simplified to answer the questions asked, rather than sharing fully. It is a “Give them what they ask for” approach. As a result the western application of TCM is predominantly a symptomatic approach rather than analysing and treating with synergy; a fully wholistic treatment for each unique individual.
The legend of the origins of Chinese Arts is interesting and is worth sharing here. The Beings of Refracted Light (seven foot giants) came to the Chinese and taught them all of their most ancient arts and the foundations of the Chinese culture and philosophy, including the list above and originally acupressure.
It takes time and effort to learn a tradition thoroughly. There would only be a snippet learnt in a few days or even a week. The Chinese actually argue that it is not only knowledge based, it is also most importantly experiential and so their learning was a master of a level taught that level and the master decided when the pupil was ready to advance or not. If they did they were then handed to a master of the next level, and so on. It was not something that could be learnt from a textbook. It was so much more than that.
As a result of the depth of understanding needed, many of the energy therapies have taken parts of these traditions and simplified them and applied them to their needs. The most common of these is the Indian Chakra system, but there are plenty that have taken a piece of TCM, especially from Acupressure, and used it in isolation for its philosophical text.
One of the myths of energy work is that it cannot do harm, especially if the giver’s intention is ‘good’. This is of particular concern as anything that cannot do harm, cannot do good. If the Chinese Yin and Yang theory is valid, the potential for both must be present. You cannot have one without the other. Knowledge and the philosophy upon which it is based, is the key to decreasing the possible negatives and increasing the likelihood of positive. Concepts of balance and working with the body come in here.
With any energy work, it is very important not to use your own energy thus depleting yourself. One should not give or take energy and there is no such thing as ‘bad’ energy. All energy is energy. It might not be flowing or moving or circulating, but it cannot be blocked. Energy is like water or air, it is constantly moving. It never stops.
What is important in any energy work is to work with the energy of the receiver to move towards a more balanced state of existence, thus improving the life of the receiver. It is not about healing or treatment, but rather facilitating by combining stimulation (yang) and sedation (yin) and balancing techniques to achieve of more balanced state of existence on any and all levels, as the receiver’s body and energy system decides; not the therapist.
How do we take care of our energy? There are many methods of cultivating and balancing our own energies. The most common are spiritual and religious practices, meditation, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Yoga, etc. Anything that feeds your soul for yourself alone.
The Table below shows the origins of the energy therapies and their movement into the West.
Time Energy Therapy in the East Origins In the West
4,000BC Acupressure (Tui Na) & TCM China 1900s
Ayurvedic India 1980s
3,000BC Acupuncture & TCM China 1800s
2,500BC Massage (Tui Na) & Body Therapies China
+ many other countries 1800s
2,000BC Qigong China 1990s
1,000BC Chakras India 1960s
1,000AD Tai Chi China 1970s
2,000AD Reiki (late 1800s/early 1900s) Japan Reiki (1960s-70s)
Shiatsu (1940s) Japan Shiatsu (1970s)
Part of Acupressure Bowen Therapy (1940s)
Part of TCM (Meridians) Trigger Point Therapy (1940s)
Chinese Meridian Theory Touch for Health & Kinesiology (1960s)
Chinese philosophy, Chi-Reflexology
Acupressure & TCM Chi Medics
Let’s now look at the most common of these therapies in more detail (alphabetically)
ACUPUNCTURE (3,000BC) and ACUPRESSURE (4,000BC)
Acupressure is one of the original Chinese arts that dealt with the Chi in the human being. It was originally a point approach without any meridians or pathways. The meridians were developed later, as was the Five Phases (Elements) Theory. The Meridians is a theory of how the energy moves around the body to all structures.
Acupressure was a point approach and was developed over many hundreds of years through observation and trial and error. In the west it is devoid of literally any philosophical or TCM knowledge and understanding and is largely a Sports injury approach. You would think this would allow Acupressure to be incorporated into massage and body therapies easily and quickly and to some extent this has happened. However, because of the acceptance of Acupuncture as a worthwhile medical practice, it is Acupuncture that has tended to be applied to body therapies instead. This is a real pity as Acupressure has more relevance to body therapies.
Acupuncture actually evolved over hundreds of years from Acupressure, which worked through human to human chi. The first step away from Acupressure was the use of bones on the points as it was more accurate and specific (this medium is working through Kidney Chi), which eventually led to sharpening of bones into needles.
Thus slowly the acu-points were reinterpreted as it was now working through a different medium. The next evolutionary step was the use of metal needles and thus another new medium (Lung Chi) and a new interpretation evolved once more. Also with these developments many of the Acupressure techniques fell into disuse. One can immediately see the problem with applying Acupuncture back to a body therapy.
BOWEN THERAPY and TRIGGER POINT THERAPY (1940s)
Bowen developed his therapy in Victoria, Australia, and it was learnt from the Chinese on the Gold Fields. It is the Chinese Acupressure Gate System, which is a use of certain Gate (or door) points to “open” the energies in a particular part of the body. There are Acupressure Gates throughout the body. The technique used was back and forth at right angles to open the gate. Bowen used the gates and the Chinese technique and with experimentation, discovered other Gates as well. As Bowen always maintained that he invented Bowen Therapy, it has been completely isolated from its origins, the Chinese philosophy, Acupressure and TCM.
Trigger Point Therapy was invented in the USA and is also based on the Chinese Acupressure Gate system. It has been incorporated into Massage and the Gates are used to treat areas of the body.
It is actually from Indian meditation, political and religious tradition. It was originally more of a personal healing and spiritual development tool. It is the theory of how energy (prana or Chi) enters and leaves the body, via the seven major vortexes of energy, although there are minor chakras as well throughout the body, much like acu-points and the major chakras (and the minor ones too) actually correlate to acu-points as they are actually located at the back between specific vertebrae of the spine. We have spent time charting the correlations and also the lesser known information in the chart illustrated above. So there is much correlation between the Chakras (major and minor) and TCM and acu-points.
Not many people realise that the Chakras are half the energy system of the body as it deals with energy entering and leaving the body, while the Chinese system deals with the energy in the body. So the two together are the complete energy system of human existence.
The Chakras are the easiest and quickest to learn and add to any approach, which is why it has been divorced from its origins and can be found in literally all therapies from Massage through Reiki to Reflexology; emotional and even spiritual work and of course all body therapies. There needs to be little in-depth knowledge and understanding to use the chakras. It is not only the most common energy system used but it is also the most easily manipulated and applied to any therapy. Again often used without a deeper understanding of its context.
CHI-REFLEXOLOGY™ (1990s) and CHI MEDICS™
Chi-Reflexology is an attempt to bring the Chinese philosophy, including TCM and Acupressure theory and practice to the application of foot therapy by developing a consistent and accurate theoretical foundation – the Anatomical Reflection Theory upon which the therapy can stand. It is strongly knowledge based yet engages intuition. It is far reaching – many points have been mapped onto the feet by Moss Arnold reflection of the body to the feet, that is, the Organ Chi points. It is a wholistic therapy, assists on all four levels of existence (physical, emotional mental and spiritual) via an accurate point approach.
Chi Medics: ‘A balanced synergy of the Chinese Philosophy, including TCM, Energy diagnostics and Acupressure’
Chi Medics is an exciting wholistic Energy (Qi, Ki, Prana, Chakras) Therapy which combines the Chinese Philosophy with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Acupressure as well as Acu-points and Meridians with foot and body therapy in an easy, quick and gentle way.
The western word for the Chinese Qi or energy is Chi. While the Japanese word for energy is Ki, and the Indian is Prana and chakras. It is all energy or Chi and so are included in Chi Medics, with the emphasis on TCM.
Excellent for pain management therefore Chi Medics will expand all body therapies including Massage and Reflexology. Health care providers who work the feet and/or the body will expand their diagnostic and practical treatment techniques. Over 30 years of practical application by Moss Arnold the therapy has evolved.
Often combined with energy in other therapies, this is an approach based on the belief that emotions are the cause of all our problems; that there are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ emotions; and that emotions can be healed. Contrary of course to the Chinese philosophy, often a simplified version of the TCM interpretations are used, such as Liver is Anger. The assumption that emotions can be ‘healed’ and that there are good and bad emotions, are also questionable. It is wise to concentrate on what you are doing and find a way to keep your mental and emotional states clear and separate when working with energy as transference can occur.
MASSAGE and BODY THERAPIES (2,500BC in China)
Energy work in Massage and body therapies are largely chakras and/or point work again for specific problems or meridian/pathway work. Once again it is usually taken away from its philosophical foundations and become added techniques to be incorporated. Massage is particularly good at doing this and this is the reason that there are so many types of massage available now. One thing worth noting is that the basic premise of massage and acupressure (TCM) is contradictory and yet they are combined – a bit of acu-point work here and there and then massage techniques and back to energy work, etc. Massage works through flowing movements such as effleurage, which is designed to work muscles and muscle groups as well as bones, fascia and lymphatics.
These flowing techniques are actually contrary to Acupressure, as back and forth actions scrambles energy and are not used in Chinese BodyTherapies. However, moving in one direction and stopping and then reversing as separate actions actually balances the energy flowing through that part of the body and are used in Acupressure. Massage and Acupressure should be kept separate rather than combined.
QIGONG (2,000BC) and TAI CHI (1200AD)
These are sister approaches. They were designed as personal health, meditation and spiritual development. Both are excellent for health maintenance and personal treatment of imbalances.
Tai Chi is an excellent moving meditation which moves the energy around the body. It is physically active (yang) and mentally passive – an “empty vessel” (yin). It is the movements that gets chi flowing.
Qigong on the other hand is the mirror opposite and is mentally active (yang) and physically passive (yin). It is mentally moving the energy around the body. To find balance you need an equal amount of yin and yang. These two mirror opposites should not be combined and yet they increasingly are which is contradictory to the philosophy on which they are based.
REIKI (late 1800s/early 1900s in Japan)
Reiki is Japanese – Rei for “hand” and ki for energy”, so simply means hand energy. And so it is simply the placing of hands on or over the body and allowing the energy to do its work. If it is off the body it is not a wholistic approach simply because it is only working on one aspect – usually the emotional level. However, if the hands are connecting to the physical, it will assist of all four levels of existence (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual), but without accuracy. It originated in Japan in the late 1800s as a form of meditation to improve body and spirit. It has since developed myths and legends about its origins, symbols and history. The Japanese are brilliant at decorating and packaging and this is quite clear in Reiki. It is a ritualistic method of convincing people that they can work with energy and bestow this ability on the receiver through rituals. It incorporates putting symbols in one’s aura that allow you to use energy. It also matters greatly what you are thinking , feeling and doing while working. It is wise, once again, to concentrate and to find a way to keep your mental and emotional states clear and separate when working with energy as transference can occur. There are levels and one can purchase Reiki mastership. To quote the Chinese: “One learns something and you spend the rest of your life trying to master it.” It is in the journey that wisdom is found. To the Chinese this is the most natural process in the universe as we are born using energy and continue using it until we die, and perhaps before and after as well. Training and knowledge assists in turning an unconscious process into a conscious one.
Originating in Japan after World War II, it was an amalgamation of a number of earlier Japanese massage therapies. Again it is beautifully packaged as it is Japanese in origin and means simply “thumb pressure” as it uses the thumbs working along the meridians in the direction of flow, and so it is a meridian therapy. It is a modern combination of a number of more ancient Japanese body therapies. It was designed specifically for muscular and skeletal problems and for use for these problems only. It is not meant to be used regularly and often as it is a very stimulatory approach which used long term will cause imbalances in the energy system of the body and ultimately may lead to physical problems. It is the Japanese deep tissue approach. It was designed as a ‘first aid’ approach to get workers back to their jobs as quickly as possible. Often it is taken out of context in the west.
Again, often combined with energy in other therapies and chakra work, this is an approach based on the belief that the spirit is ‘sick’ and needs healing. Often linked with emotional healing where these two distinctly separate aspects of human existence merged together into a hodgepodge of various beliefs and practices. Can the soul or spirit actually be healed? Does it need healing? Ego comes to mind here, and it is regularly present if one looks for it. Varies depending on the belief structure it be loosely based upon.
TOUCH FOR HEALTH and KINESIOLOGY (late 1960s)
Touch for Health was invented by two Chiropractors in the USA as an adjunct to their chiropractic work. Muscle testing (developed in the early 1900s) was used to determine where the spinal problem was and which muscle/muscle group was involved and then certain acu-points were used to adjust and enhance the session, i.e. adjust the vertebrae and then the relevant muscle/muscle group to enhance the treatment and prolong the benefits. This was because the chiropractors knew that if the muscle was not also adjusted, then the muscle would very quickly move the vertebrae to misalignment. So it was designed for very specific Chiropractic work. They also correlated which muscle related to which energy or chi as well as vertebrae. Thus they found a correlation between muscles, vertebrae and Chinese energies (meridians).
It is worth noting that Touch for Health changed some of the meridians or pathways and even changed some acu-points from the original TCM for their specific use and obviously for very good reasons, which they neglected to share, which is a pity.
From these origins, kinesiology with its emphasis of Touch for Health meridians and muscle testing) evolved and spread exponentially to a point that there are a multitude of variations of kinesiology and muscle testing for just about anything and everything, especially emotional work, and even now spiritual kinesiology.
There then are the major therapies that have incorporated energy work, but there are plenty of other body therapies that could be listed here, such as Therapeutic and Remedial Massage and Sport therapies. The list is endless and growing all the time.
What we feel is very important for any person using energy is to really understand where a therapy originates, the reasons for its evolvement and whether further study of the origins would be useful knowledge to give a larger picture, information and knowledge base. If this brief exploration raises any questions for you, we would be please and more than happy to answer your queries.
Kind Regards, Moss and Sharon