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Day 3 of Australia 2013: Indigenous Energy Medicine

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In Cherokee bodywork for breathing, there are some basic techniques.   Common in this form of bodywork is rocking.   We rock the thorax back and forth at uneven, unpredictable rhythms to help loosen the tension between the ribs, which are actually joints and should move.   We add pressure and shaking to expiration, pushing down further into exhalation than the person usually does so that when the pressure is removed and they take a breath, deeper than what they usually would take.   This is the same principle used at birth, when the vagina squeezes the baby's thorax.   As the thorax emerges, the release of pressure leads the baby to take a deep breath.   Finally, we can locate the points of tension on the thorax and rub those points, thereby also stimulating deeper breathing and relaxation.


I reminded the audience that Elvis Presley had Cherokee ancestry, so, if Elvis would have done it, then it's Cherokee body work, meaning shake, rock, rattle, and roll.   I proceeded to shake my demonstration person's torso, to rock her rib cage, to rattle the ribs with pressure and release, and to role her around on the table.   I massaged some points that seemed to be holding tension.   In time, she was breathing much differently and was amazed at how it felt to take a deep breath.   We talked about the imagery that could accompany this work, including changing the metaphor of rib cage as armor into more of an accordion-like image.

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Lewis Mehl-Madrona graduated from Stanford University School of Medicine and completed residencies in family medicine and in psychiatry at the University of Vermont. He is the author of Coyote Medicine, Coyote Healing, Coyote Wisdom, and (more...)
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