Healing the belly: Rosita Arvigo and abdominal massage
Rosita Arvigo was born in Chicago where she was trained as a doctor of naprapathy. In Belize, she trained with legendary don Elijio, whose skill at herbal healing was renowned throughout the area. It is this Mayan herbal tradition that Rosita has faithfully preserved with her Rainforest Remedies. She is the author of Satsun, among other books.
Rosita, is there anything you wanted to say first about abdominal massage?
Abdominal massage can prevent and treat a lot of the common complaints that people often find very little hope for, or they have to rely on drugs. That would include gastritis, female problems, and male prostate problems. We also teach our practitioners to teach their patients how to do an aspect of this work, because a big piece of this is self-empowerment.
Tell me more about specific ailments that have been alleviated through abdominal massage?
Incontinence, painful and irregular periods, infertility, hemorrhoids, the beginning stages of prostate complications and all the symptoms that go along with that. This is an easy way to prevent these conditions, at home.
Can you describe a little of what abdominal massage is?
Abdominal massage focuses on the upper abdomen, primarily focusing on the diaphragm, where human beings hold a great deal of tension in the muscle of the diaphragm. That tension squeezes the blood supply, because the artery that comes fight from the heart passes through the diaphragm. The esophagus goes through the diaphragm. The vein that drains all the rest of the body goes through the diaphragm. When we are under tension, nervous, or anxious, the diaphragm tends to react by tightening, therefore the blood supply to the whole body, the esophagus, and even the digestive functions of the stomach are tremendously decreased. That’s the upper portion. Then there’s the lower portion of the pelvis wherein resides the uterus, the ovaries, fallopian tubes, the prostate, and bladders for both sides of the fence.
It seems to me that there’s a big difference between abdominal massage and traditional massage.
Yes, the main difference is that it has a clear therapeutic purpose for the abdominal organs, a purpose that often is greatly overlooked in massage training. My students have told me that their massage instructors have told them to stay away from that area because people feel too vulnerable when they’re touched there, which is true. My students are trained to approach it first of all energetically, emotionally, spiritually, and then physically. They’re also trained to also deal with the inevitable emotional release that comes about when you’re working in these areas. There often is a time where we find the client is crying. When a person begins to emote, a lot of that internalized repressed emotion finds its own way out. and once it’s out, it dissipates and a person is no longer living a life full of tremendously heavy emotional baggage. They get a fresh start. They understand that it’s a process that ends.
What is the whole traditional connection to elders and abdominal massage?
In Central America, most grandmothers in any household know how to do abdominal massage. They would have certainly have trained their children or their grandchildren. Children and grandchildren are an important part of family functioning, meaning that little kids have to go run and collect plants for their grandmothers. Or the other older kids help the grandmother with the flow of traffic of people coming for these types of therapies. So there is always close contact within the family because the children are an integral part of family operations. Then in other parts of the world … I’ve seen this work done in Egypt, Morocco, African tribes, and with Native Americans. It was at least until this last century a universal tradition that was handed down from generation to generation. There’s nothing new in what we’re doing. My work has been to save it at the eleventh hour from falling off the cliff. What I did contribute to it was ten years of research in anatomy and physiology. I asked “Why are these fantastic techniques so dramatically and incredibly effective for people?” For both men and women. The men who came to our classes in order to help their female patients tried it on themselves and said, wow, they didn’t get up at night so much to pee anymore. So I tried it on my male patients and they are also getting relief from early stages of prostatic swelling. We’ve been researching with more men, and have been getting dramatic results especially with the early stages of prostate problems.
Also one issue for women is that little girls can fall as toddlers. If they get a bad fall on their sacrum, it’s very likely that the uterus gets out of position and stays there. That sets them up where they’re condemned to a life of hemorrhoids, discomfort, painful periods, varicose veins, no periods, infertility. You can see the list in Rainforest Remedies. It could happen at the age of two. Traditionally, when grandmother saw a child fall, she would lay the little girl down and make sure that the uterus got a little extra help and a little extra pulling so that it would stay up in proper position. It swings like a hammock in the pelvis. It’s supposed to be very flexible and very movable so it can grow from the size of a pear to the size of a watermelon. But that also gives it the potential for some pathology. And the fact that it’s slung by ligaments, and ligaments are easily damaged and hard to repair in the body.
It sounds like what you’ve done with don Elijio’s work is to add the feminine aspect to it, because obviously you’re interested in those things.
I did. And I added the self-care, the work of Wilhelm Reich, and the spiritual aspects as well. I suppose that we have a lot more modem day tensions and setbacks than people in the Mayan world did. We found that when we began to work on the abdomen, surprisingly, that a lot of the emotions came pouring out of people in the U.S., much more so than I saw in Central America. Certainly they have them, but not as great as we do, because of our modem day tensions of work, production, single mothers and fathers, and men being overburdened by responsibilities.
It seems that touch is not as prevalent in this society as in other societies.
Yes, in this society even standing in public places there is a great taboo of even brushing into each other. That does not exist in Central America. You sit on a bus with a total stranger and touch knee to knee with them and there’s no weirdness, no strange feeling. It’s not a problem. You sit and stand close to people, brush them, it’s nothing. But here I notice that people are really scared by that. It’s a reaction of fear of inappropriate touch. People you hardly know touch you in other countries all the time and you see men walking arm in arm in Central America and Europe. We live a cold lifestyle that here that we have worked ourselves into and allowed to get chronic. Intuitively we know this is not healthy, but we allow this to go on. Hugging is good for you. We have a whole range of people who even ridicule hugging, like there’s something too ‘New Agey’ about it. Those are the people who really need a hug, though. Heart to heart contact is very important. It’s not only the hug and the arms around you, it’s hearing the heartbeats next to each other.
The American expectation that we can just take a pill and make all the bad stuff go away without having to do anything.
A lot of time our practitioners only have to see a client once or twice. And then they give them the self-care, and they give them the protocols, like taking the female tonic, and doing the vaginal steams, and sometimes that’s all that have to do. Improvement is dramatic, effective and safe.
That’s where we began. Effective, safe, simple, treatment, with such profound results.
Tom Wright lives in Asheville with his daughter Alyssa, and son, Nicolas. He is the author of Acronyming POWER! and TheOnePennyMillionaire! web-based seminar series.
Abdominal Massage Self-Care
Maya abdominal masage should be done slow, in a deep, penetrating way. This will release muscle spasms caught in the entire abdominal area, an area we can keep tight for years. When doing the massage, always keep clothing loose.
1) Lie on your back to begin, with support under the knees.
2) Relax, and breathe in deeply for two minutes.
3) Bring both hands together onto the pubic bone, tucking one thumb under the other with the other fingers close together. Fingers should be lightly bent, and relaxed so they resemble a ninety degree tool.
4) Slide your hands off the pubic bone toward your head and sink your fingers as deep as you comfortably can into the soft flesh.
5) With a gentle motion, dig deeply here as long as you do not feel any discomfort, and with a light, firm, massage, gently stroke in an upward motion to your navel.
6) Repeat this for a few minutes. If you have pain, lighten up your touch, but continue to massage within your own comfort zone.
This is to he done daily for thirty days, then twice a week thereafter. This is about self-care, about taking care of yourself.
Note: Do not perform this after surgery, during pregnancy, or if you have on IUD, are taking pain killers, or hove a sudden onset of pain. If you ore under a doctors care, get approval from that doctor to use this technique.
By Tom Wright [This is New Life Journal’s second interview with Rosita Arvigo. Read the first interview in our June 2005 issue.–Ed.]
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