When I was a little boy of five or six years old I used to lie on my back on my bed and massage myself. I found various places or points that were sore and tender and explored massaging or just holding them. I imagined these places would purify my body. I had the image of a vacuum cleaner coming in and cleaning up my body, my fingers releasing stagnate toxins or dirt and the vacuum cleaners inside me cleaning up the mess, making me a better person. Now, I look back in wonder on my childhood healing images.
My grandmother first introduced me to healing touch, guiding me to the great interchange of love from one person to another. From age four to ten, she massaged my feet every Saturday night. She took care of my sister and I, in order to allow my parents to go out on a weekly date. The foot massage she gave me was ecstatic – something I looked forward to every week. This was one of her ways of loving me – a love that was more abundant than a hundred brilliant suns. In exchange I’d massage her swollen, painful arm, an effect of the medications her doctor proscribed prescribed.
My grandmother was supposed to die when I was three years old. After examining her beast cancer in the early 1950’s, doctors all over the Los Angeles area predicted she would die in a matter of months. Against all odds, she lived over ten years more than expected. She’d beam with pride, “I have a purpose to live; I want to see this boy (me) grow up to be a man.” My mother was appalled at the doctors’ limited perspective and fatal prognosis. So she searched and found an endocrinologist who gave my grandmother weekly shots, which arrested her cancer. When she received these shots each Wednesday, her arm would swell, and she’d get very sick. A few days later, she would recover enough to take care of my sister and me on Saturday nights. However, her arm would still be very swollen and hurt. Each week, I massaged her arm, and within 20 minutes the swelling decreased.
As a child, I realized how my massage exchange with my grandmother was our way of communicating the greatest gift of love, beyond what any human being could say in words. She encouraged me to vow to be a doctor and to never smoke. Giving and teaching Acupressure and Shiatsu has fulfilled this connection, pledge, and my purpose in life.