Within its short period of existence in India, acupressure has made tremendous inroads into the public consciousness over the last 20 years, thanks largely to the ease of its practice and use. As a therapy it has several advantages which have conspired to give it a runaway popularity, fuelled by the missionary zeal with which its practitioners propagate it. Says Anjali Nevrekar, holistic healer: “Acupressure therapy has to spread as widely as possible if the people are to be freed from the clutches of the present day expensive medical treatment.”
She adds: “Acupressure can give one a sound mind and healthy body, as it improves blood circulation, unblocks nerve impulses and relieves stress and tension.” She is at pains to highlight its advantages. “It is cost-free, simple and can be practised by self, it does not require space (a weighty consideration in space-scarce Mumbai), patients of all ages can benefit by it, it does not take much time and it has no side effects.”
If responsibly followed; acupressure in its various manifestations can be an effective self-healing and self-regulating system. Nevrekar was drawn to it by her own experience. Having suffered for a prolonged period from osteoarthritis that left her virtually crippled, she was advised an operation. Just before the scheduled date, a friend introduced her to acupressure. Intuitively, she felt that it would help her recover, which indeed it did within three to four months. “Earlier, I was not able to move my fingers or walk. Now I am fully active all the time,” she says.
It can also be, as Devendra Vora points out, an excellent diagnostic tool. Press a point on the hand and if it is tender or painful, chances are that the organ or gland it represents is in need of repair. When I met him, the good healer deftly pressed a few points and diagnosed a sore throat, which I had developed that morning itself.
Sujata Pandit, a Mumbai housewife, presses the endocrine points each time she wants relief for water retention. Some years ago, when her daughter returned home distraught from an examination she had not done well, a little aromatherapy and pressing of the acupressure points sent her into a sound sleep from which she woke up refreshed and ready to face the next examination. When 15-year-old Nishi Megh has a headache or backache, she hightails it to Kiran Goel, who gives her Su-jok acupressure. Claims Goel: “You can heal headaches in less than a minute.”
When Hemlata Kalra, a therapist at Devendra Vora’s clinic, was diagnosed with sciatica, no therapies helped her overcome her problems. “I couldn’t get up in the morning, my knees and lower back would pain and I used to walk with a limp.” Then she heard of Vora who offered her a sciatica massage. (This is the massage that the therapists mentioned at the beginning of this story were performing and is apparently very efficacious for back problems). “At the first sitting my pain increased by 40 per cent, but subsequently, it began to reduce and in four to five sittings I was normal. Today, she herself administers the massage to others and is deeply involved in a whole lot of holistic activities.
Most healers point out that acupressure is the original healing therapy installed in our consciousness. Says Anjali Nevrekar: “The human being’s original therapeutic tool is his hand. We instinctively hold the places in our bodies that ache or hurt, like a sprained ankle or a burn. Whenever a person is struck, stung or sized with cramps, he involuntarily puts his hand on the painful spot in order to rub, knead or massage.”
And, of course, most are profoundly convinced that, like all good things, it originated in India. Says Devendra Vora: “Bhishma staying alive on that bed of arrows for six months in Mahabharata is nothing but a practical example of acupressure.” And Anjali Nevrekar points to the Indian habit of adorning oneself liberally with jewellery, such as rings, anklets, armlets, waistbands, toe rings, all of which exert pressure on that specific point.
While acupressure has around 200 points all over the body to remember, most practitioners resort to the simpler hand or foot reflexology or Sujok. They believe that the hand and the foot are switchboards to the system and that stimulating points there create a reflex within its representative body part. All one has to do to ensure sound health within one’s system or to diagnose impending problems is to press the hand or foot thoroughly once a day. Says Jitubhai Vora of the Jay Bhagwan Acupressure Centre, which makes use of foot reflexology exclusively: “The results are miraculous.” He cites the case of a lady who was bent over almost 90 per cent. Having been advised an operation, she came to have acupressure and within four or five sittings, she was walking erect.
Probodh Doshi, who employs both reflexology and ayurveda, has been able to get excellent results for slipped discs and other painful conditions. Like acupressure, shiatsu, of Japanese derivation, also makes use of points all over the body. Unlike acupressure, however, it also makes use of gentle body manipulations. The G-Jo Fingertip technique makes use of points that go directly to the organ.
Most therapists combine the use of various holistic therapies when treating patients for acupressure. Vora, for instance, insists the intake of some homoeopathic medicine as well as naturopathic green juices and fruit juices. He even prescribes charged water made out of soaking metals like gold, silver and copper in water and boiling it down to half the quantity. He also prescribes various ayurvedic treatments.
Vora claims that many of his cures are intuitively arrived at while in meditation. “Many acupressure therapist have not bothered to go deep into the root of the problem. But my mission is to heal the world, and I am deeply moved by suffering. I saw a film on TV about children suffering for muscular dystrophy and I was so upset that I wept. That intensity of feeling gives me the motivation to go deep into causes,” he reveals.
He points to the key role played by endocrine glands in maintaining the harmony and health of the body. Their vital role, he complains, has not been understood by western science. Disturbances of the glands cause most of the problems, he says. For instance, high BP is caused by the malfunctioning of the pineal gland and therefore the point to be pressed is that.
How does one press the points?
There are many methods. Vora suggests intermittent pressing and releasing, others have their preferences. Michael Blate, author of The Natural Healer’s Acupressure Handbook, suggests stimulating the spot deeply and briskly with a fingertip in a counterclockwise movement for about 15 to 20 seconds. If more pressure needs to be exerted, one can use the knuckle, thumb or even a blunt instrument like a pencil. There is an instrument called the jimmy or the acupressure thumb that helps exert pressure. In Sujok, they advocate the use of a spiral ring, which you are supposed to run through your fingers. Most therapists warn against over-stimulation. Never press a point more than three times a day, for about two to three minutes, says Vora.
The diagnosis of ailments is fairly simple. If the point we press is painful, it means a problem is developing or has developed in that area. To make diagnosis and health maintenance easy, Vora suggests that we make a daily routine of administering pressure upon the whole hand starting one inch down from the wrist and moving up to cover the finger tips, the webs between the fingers and the back side of the hand. Both hands must be pressed for five minutes each. When you encounter a painful spot, make a note of its location and then press it for two minutes three times a day. Check out the organ it represents from the chart and lo and behold, you have a diagnosis. While this may work for mild ailments, any serious disorders should be entrusted to a competent doctor.
Stimulate bilaterally, i.e. on both sides of the body or both hands and feet depending on the system you use. The symptoms may increase after the first stimulation, but this is an indication that the treatment is working and the body is throwing off the toxins. After applying treatment for the required points, always press the kidney point as well, to stimulate it to throw out the toxins.
- Do not use it as a treatment for a chronic, long-standing illness or disorder.
- Do not do it within four hours of taking any drugs, medications, intoxicating food or drinks or medicinal herbs.
- Do not use it if you are taking regular medication.
- If you have a known heart condition or suffer from a disorder involving tissue change or degeneration such as chronic arthritis, cancer, cataracts, tumours or varicose veins.
- Do not use it immediately before or within half an hour after bathing in hot water, eating a heavy meal or doing strenuous physical activity.
- Do not do it when emotionally agitated.
- Pregnant women are advised not to do it, especially after the first trimester.
- Women should not press any point on the breasts.
Author: Suma Varughese