Want to earn continuing education credit for this article? Learn more.
Until something happens to remind us otherwise, many of us take our eyes for granted. Our eyes tell us when it is daytime and when it is night. They warn us of oncoming danger. Our eyes show emotion through tears of sadness as well as joy. When we are in love our pupils dilate into pools of limpid darkness. When your mind is overloaded with information, your pupils constrict. Your eyes can tell a doctor if you are on drugs, or if you are having certain health problems or brain dysfunction. Throughout the ages the eyes have been considered the doorway to the soul. With this magnitude of responsibility, you can see how important it is to keep our eyes healthy and strong. Are there massage techniques that can help?
Any form of massage on the eye needs to be gentle. Our eyes are fragile when it comes to touch and too much pressure can be harmful. Almost any form of facial massage can benefit the eyes by helping with both blood and lymph flow, bringing in nutrients and assisting with toxin removal, even helping with increased muscle tone.
Sometimes just placing something cool and soothing on the client’s eyes while working with them in a supine position during a traditional Western style massage can offer a great deal of relief to tired eyes and help to reduce puffiness as well as redness. For example, try placing cool stones on the eyes or even a cooled gel mask or cloth. You can try keeping items in a small dorm-sized refrigerator, designated for this purpose in your office or session room. (Note: do not keep any items used for massage in the same refrigerator that you keep food.)
If eyes aren’t particularly stressed, simply placing your open palms on the client’s face for a few minutes can be extremely comforting. Rub your hands briskly together first, to get them nice and warm and then gently place them on his or her entire face, fingers towards the chin, palms over the eyes. One caveat here; you may want to work on the client’s face first, avoiding the perception of oily hands, or even hands that have worked on the feet going to the face.
In five-element theory, part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the eyes correspond to wood. The meridians or energy channels associated with this are the Liver and Gall Bladder. These are the meridians worked to also deal with issues of the eye, such as red, burning, itchy eyes (excluding infections); dizziness; blurred vision or excess of tears. In TCM a deficient Liver can cause dry eyes, bad vision and night or color blindness. It is said that the Liver also contributes to what might be called inner vision.
The Gall Bladder, partner to the Liver in the wood element, focuses more on the mental aspects of vision. It influences decision making and discrimination – the psychological equivalent of clear and accurate vision, unclouded by emotion or affected by bias. Physically, an imbalance in the Gall Bladder might result in headaches; mentally, it can result in decisions made with a high and sometimes irrational emotional quality.
These meridians would not be worked alone. Depending on the pathology of the eye’s distress, other meridians or elements would be included. For example, dark circles under the eye might be related to kidney imbalance, or red eyes to the fire element. Careful and thorough intake needs to be taken to determine the best session routine for the client.
Remember, also, to take care of your own eyes. Throughout the course of the day, your eyes may become fatigued from looking at a computer screen or doing paperwork. They may become puffy because of lack of sleep or itchy and red because of allergies. Get a regular checkup for your eyes, eat a healthy diet, moderately exercise, get sufficient sleep and use the above suggestions for your clients on yourself!
Earn continuing education credit for this article contained in our Common Pathologies & Complaints series. Click here to enroll.