Tien Chen

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Tien Chen — Acupressure

Tien Chen is another very ancient art of China, and one which is the forerunner of Hsia Chen Pien (acupuncture). It was realized that many of the energy centres along the lines of meridians lay fairly close to the surface of the skin, and therefore it did not need a deep instrument to get at them, but only the pressure of a finger or thumb. After thousands of years of testing it was realized that although excellent results were obtained by this system of spot pressing, it needed to be a little more precise in its application and so the ancients introduced using the tips of their fingernails as well as the tip of a blunt instrument. So whereas Hsia Chen Pien has always used a variety of needles for its work along the meridian channels, the Tien Chen practitioner needs only some of the tools of the human body to execute the various techniques employed in his art. In conformity with the 'Five Elements' (Wu Hsing), these are:

  1. The tip of the thumb.
  2. The tip of the index finger.
  3. The second knuckle of the middle finger.
  4. The nail of the thumb or index finger.
  5. Yuan Chen — the round-headed needle.

The first four of these are self-explanatory, but the fifth item needs to be explained. It is specially made so that it will not puncture the skin when a downward pressure is exerted, yet its head must not cover too large an area when placed on the skin. It is small enough to be carried at all times in the pocket, so that it is handy in case of emergencies. An erasure pencil with the rubber rounded off at the end is just as good, and because the rubber gives slightly it can be used on adults and children alike.
Even with Tien Chen there are two aims to be obtained; sedation and stimulation. Sedation is gained by applying pressure gradually until a heavy pressure is reached. It is then maintained for ten or fifteen seconds. For stimulation, the pressure is applied rapidly to the required depth, and released just as quickly, then applied again and released, and this may be continued for thirty seconds.
Remember that the majority of cases that you will come up against involve pain, and you must therefore 'drain for pain, or in other words you must sedate. However, remember that when you treat pain you are simply removing a symptom, though in many cases the work you have done will eradicate the cause, leaving the body to carry on its own work internally completely unhindered.
Draining or sedating, however, also takes away a certain amount of the person's vitality power of Ch'i energy, and this commodity is too precious to be wasted, as it is the lifeline of the body. We must take steps to ensure that it is not wasted. For example, if the pain were at one end of the meridian, in the chest, we could place moxa or other heat treatment at the other end of the meridian, in the region of the thumb. This has a twofold benefit; (1) it draws the energy away from the painful area, and (2) external heat brings in external energy, so no energy is wasted within the person.
Another typical example of this is the fever or influenza, and we have a saying in China: 'Keep the head cool, the feet hot and the centre just right.' So you put cold compresses on the forehead to combat the fever, which acts as a form of sedation; a hot water bottle under the feet, which brings in external energy; and a bowl of warm vegetable soup to keep the centre of the body just right.
Through pulse study you may find an indication that there is a deficiency in one of the other meridians, which is not being affected by the pain, so it is possible to drain or sedate the excess of energy from the painful area of a particular meridian, and put it intQ the meridian that is deficient. By doing so, you have created the perfect balance between the Yang and Yin aspects of the two meridians, and this is working perfectly to the order of the universe.

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Taoist Ways of Healing - The Chinese Art of Pa Chin Hsien

by Chee Soo

Copyright ©Seahorse Books 2012 reproduced with permission

(Chapter 9)