“Relax! Relaxation helps your body repel illness, it allows your qi and blood to flow smoothly, it harmonizes the sinews and vessels, balances the five internal organs, and opens the triple burners — how can any disease invade your body?”
—Cheng Man Ch’ing
by Carl Johns, LMT, Mountain Medicine Integrative Wellness Center
Cheng Man Ch’ing is expressing something through the lens of Chinese philosophy and medicine that is universally expressed in many cultures.
He is speaking in the context of tai chi, but therapeutic relaxation can come through many practices — meditation, yoga, massage, art, music, dance, cooking, connecting with nature, connecting with others in a meaningful way.
The trick is that it be something you love and something you can bring your full presence to. Presence is powerful, and presence is a practice.
It is important to note that the important health outcome from any of these practices comes from the balancing of the functions of the body through the relaxation effect. I’ll give a couple of personal examples.
I started playing music as a young child and never stopped. Playing jazz has been my constant companion through all the twists and turns of a very full life. Playing flute and saxophone has given me a constant daily breath-work practice, along with the single-pointed focus of playing music — presence!
No matter how stressful the different periods of my life, the practice of playing music always relaxed my mind and body, which I am certain kept me healthy.
In the mid-1990s, I started my practice as a massage therapist. Presence was the primary focus of my training in massage and bodywork, and this was truly a gift. To relax into presence, and to bring that focus to every session, made massage a joy to give.
I quickly realized it felt as good to give a massage session as it did to receive a session. I truly believe this kind of practice promotes a long and healthy life.
Playing music and practicing massage and bodywork are the joyful practices that have brought peace and relaxation to my mind and body all of my life. If we find the practices that bring each of us joy, peace and relaxation, we can all experience better health and a better quality of life — how can any disease invade your body!