I am convinced that acupuncture is going to be one of the greatest contributions that any group of people has made to the future of all medicine, if it is handled correctly by the people of the Western world. – Dr W. Kenneth Riland, Personal Physician to former President Richard Nixon
Contrary to popular belief, acupuncture not only involves needles but the application of heat or – in this case, pressure – to treat a variety of pains and ailments. A key component of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the application of pressure to different parts of the body is also thought to help relieve various types of psychological distress.
TCM is just now beginning to gain recognition as an effective form of therapy, not only to scholars and practitioners of TCM, but also in modern medicine. Amazingly, TCM techniques were developed over 2,500 years ago. To put this in timeframe in perspective, the development of TCM occurred 430 years before the birth of Jesus. Incredible.
Ancient Chinese medicine also introduced the practices of herbal medicine, massage, qigong, and various forms of dietary therapy. The practice is so effective, it continues to be one of the primary care techniques used throughout China. Another testament to the effectiveness of TCM is its widespread adoption by various countries throughout Europe other areas of the world, including the United States.
This brief history involving the practice of TCM segues perfectly into our next discussion: how to utilize a specific pressure point of the body to effectively relieve stress and anxiety. There is actually a term used to describe this practice, acupressure – a close cousin of acupuncture.
Of all types of psychological impediments, stress and anxiety may be the most prevalent. This practice is meant to circumvent our hardwired response to stress and anxiety – shallow breathing and increased heart rate.
HOLDING THIS POINT ON YOUR BODY CAN MELT STRESS AND ANXIETY
The pressure point we are going to utilize for this practice is an area of the body known as CV 17. This area is located four finger widths north from the base of the breastbone, almost directly at the center of the chest.
Here’s how to locate the CV 17, also known as the Sea of Tranquility in Chinese medicine:
– Use your fingertips to slowly rub up and down the center of the breastbone. You are feeling for a small indent in this area.
– Once you’ve found this indentation, we can begin the healing practice.
– First, sit in a position that allows for the spine to remain straight and in an upright position.
– Second, place the palms together with the fingers pointing upward (similar to a prayer position). It may be helpful to use a straight back chair to assist with ensure the back remains straight throughout the practice.
– Third, once you’ve settled in a sitting position and have the hands in the correct position, use the back knuckles of the thumb to gently press into the center of the CV 17 point.
– Fourth, once you’re in this position and ready to begin, gently close your eyes.
– During this practice, it is essential to:
(1) Focus on deep and relaxed breathing. When stressed and/or anxious, it is tempting to revert back to shallow breaths.
(2) Keep your back straight and upright. This allows you to breathe fully and deeply, filling the lungs in the process.
(3) Keep the head upright, but relaxed. Similar to how your head would be appear if staring slightly downward. As you breathe out, it is perfectly normal for the head to move at a downward angle (as the lungs are expelling air, this is natural).
Continue this breathing meditation for a minimum 2 to 3 minutes. This will allow for the heartrate and mind to settle into a relaxed state. To realize the myriad benefits of the practice, perform this breathing meditation two to three times daily, always remaining cognizant of the importance of deep breathing.
It is said that, in addition to helping relieve stress and anxiety, this practice is also effective in helping those with depression, chronic fatigue, PTSD, hormonal imbalances, or during the recovery period following an injury or surgery.