I find myself meditating at a window on a riverbank staring into the vast greenery of the Northern Thailand jungle, thinking to myself, “How did I get here?” The sound of the flowing river rounding out the rocks, slow and steady, eases my mind. I envision white light filling my body with each breath, cascading down rounding out the sharp edges of my consciousness. I hear the voice of my love singing—she is preparing lunch, seasoning the dishes with her heart. Her voice is soft and sweet…effortlessly charming and mellifluous.
Three years ago, I was laboring 16-hour days on a fishing vessel in Southeast Alaska, covered in fish guts, sweat, and blood. I knew it was my last year fishing on the ocean—it had become a grind; the excitement of being on the water and bringing in the big ones had ceased to be exhilarating. The long days and short sleepless nights were taking their toll on my body and soul. During a land day, after cleaning up the boat, I went to see a massage therapist in town. I remember the next day feeling exactly the same, just with much lighter pockets. I reached out to friends everywhere, searching for a place in the world to receive affordable and effective massages.
“Thailand,” “Thailand,” “Thailand.”
It wasn’t long after visiting family for a short stint in the lower 48 that I was off to the Far East, in search of rest, respite, and renewal.
Southeast Asia took me in; nourishing me with her food, healing me with her hands (and feet), and relinquishing the Yang bonfire that I brought with me from Alaska. She calmed the flames with her Yin saying, “Relax western man, don’t just do something, sit there.” I spent the next five months being molded like clay by Chiang Mai’s finest body workers, while learning the craft of Traditional Thai Massage full-time. Embarking on a new journey, from fisherman to Healing Artist, I was swimming in new waters with surprising comfort. I would spend the next year practicing the Healing Arts, helping humans feel well, while leaving the fish to swim another day.
Dancing to the beat of a new drum, I was still yearning for the next step. Giving Thai massages was definitely helping people to feel better, but it seemed ephemeral. My body as well wasn’t fully healed; yoga and Thai massages alone were missing the mark. I set the intention of diving deeper to find a longer lasting healing modality.
A friend of mine asked, “Have you ever received an abdominal massage called, “Chi Nei Tsang (CNT)?”
Little did I know that my life was about to be turned upside down.
The Origins of Chi Nei Tsang (CNT)
She explained that in ancient Taoist China, monks used to massage their colon and abdominal organs regularly. Combined with certain “healing sounds,” these men were able not only to heal themselves, but they lived long and vital lives free from disease until their last breath. She performed a CNT session on me, and…oh…my…goodness.
My Experience with CNT
When she touched my solar plexus, I winced as the pain quickly went from a 9 out of 10 (ouch!), to a 7 out of 10, and down to a 4. The pain gradually transformed into comfort. When she pumped my liver, I grimaced seething with anger, clenching my jaw, as I realized the anger I held might have been passed down along my family tree. This too passed as I breathed and released, breathed and released. While massaging my colon, years of stuck fecal matter became loosened, along with the sadness that lay within.
What Are the Effects of CNT?
Chi (or prana, life-force, energy, call it what you will) began surging throughout my entire body like never before. My hands and feet were tingling, a result of increased circulation. The initial pain gave way to a feeling of bliss; my face began glowing with newfound vigor.
After about an hour, I slowly sat up, filled to the brim with gratitude, smiling brightly with a peaceful heart. I hugged my friend, thanking her profusely. I felt more connected to my entire being than ever before. Lighter, as if I had let go of unnecessary baggage. Clearer, as if blockages were cast overboard, both physically and emotionally. In short, I felt like a new person—like a version of myself that I had known to be there all along, but had yet to embody. Days, weeks, even months went by, and this awareness and feeling lasted.
I had found it. I fervently searched for the best teachers of CNT in Thailand. An acupuncturist friend helped connect me with one of the best practitioners and teachers of CNT in the world. I studied diligently with her, 1-on-1, grateful to have a brilliant teacher all to myself. I have spent the past two years practicing CNT, helping people from all over the world.
So, what exactly is a CNT Massage?
Let’s look at this now from the practitioners’ perspective. Lying down, head on a pillow, with a relaxed lower back; your guest begins to breathe. The first job of a CNT practitioner is to optimize the guests’ breathing. We must make sure that a body is breathing fully, especially into the lower lungs. Breathing into the lower lungs opens up the lower abdomen, quenching the body with oxygen, while also relaxing the area of the large intestine. Without deep, relaxed, and full breathing into the entirety of the lungs, CNT will not be as effective. The human body releases 85% of its toxicity through breathing alone; it is important to have the guests “sweep the floor” themselves as the massage takes place. I have once spent nearly 45 minutes helping a guest to breathe properly…isn’t it interesting that we can forget how to breathe?
Once a guest is relaxed and breathing into the entirety of the lungs, we are ready to begin massaging the organs of the abdomen. The accessible organs are: the colon, large intestine, small intestine, stomach/spleen, and the liver/gall bladder. The CNT practitioner uses various techniques to massage and unblock the stagnant Chi “stored” in each organ. When a client is open to it, I also teach them healing sounds for each organ as I am working on them. This allows them to release as much as possible, while also gaining ancient knowledge for self-healing that they may carry with them throughout their lives.
What Are The Benefits of CNT?
I have seen digestion turned around 180 degrees—clients have gone from restricted diets to being able to eat anything they want, with their elimination system clearing itself daily and efficiently. I have seen emotionally stuck men and women become emotionally intelligent—deep seeded emotional memories/experiences were cleansed with awareness being brought to the forefront of their consciousness. I have helped many to start a path of health and well-being. Sometimes this takes numerous sessions, yet I have seen life-changing progress in just 1 hour-long session.
- Physical blockage is released—stuck fecal matter from the colon, un-chewed food from the small intestine, etc.
- Emotional blockage is released—anger from the liver, worry from the stomach, etc.
- The lymphatic and circulatory systems are stimulated, resulting in improved elimination.
- When a guest follows his/her CNT session with plenty of water over the next few days, the colon flushes itself, similar to the effect of a colonic (but without any negative repercussions).
- One is left with a body revitalized.
- One’s emotional awareness may become enhanced.
- Memories and experiences that have manifested in the physical realm will have vanished or will have begun the healing process.
Each guests’ experience is totally unique and their own, but one thing is certain—Chi Nei Tsang is one of the most effective known healing modalities in the world.
Lunch is ready. Each dish brings something different to the table. Something spicy, something sweet, something hearty, something light. I beam a smile of appreciation to my love as we sit down to eat our meal together in silence. We communicate through “mmm,” smiles, and eye contact. One of our healing cats sits on my lap, massaging my belly. I find myself chewing and smiling in the jungle of Northern Thailand thinking, “Thank goodness I am here.”
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