Maya Abdominal Massage the Wise Woman Way

by Astrid Grove

heart sun FREERANGE.JPG

In Central America the art of abdominal massage is at the core of the traditional healers’ practice and is utilized as a diagnostic tool as well as a treatment.  As an American I feel so blessed to have two incredible teachers from Belize, Miss Beatrice and Dr. Rosita Arvigo.  Through the teachings of these two fabulous women, I have been able to implement Maya abdominal massage (MAM) into my life and into the lives of the people I meet. 

By palpating a man, woman or child’s abdomen, practitioners of Maya abdominal massage can access the spiritual, emotional, and physical health of the person.  With women we have the additional diagnostic of accessing the position of the uterus.  As a modality we can encourage the health and healing of the whole body through gentle manipulations of the sacrum, hips, and spine as well as massage of the upper abdomen and repositioning of the uterus.  We have noticed great success with encouraging health and relieving symptoms related to digestion, bladder and urinary health, prostate health, uterine and ovarian health, circulation, fertility, and pregnancy.

As with any healing practice, the way a person practices the art is defined by what tradition s/he is guided by. Susun Weed teaches us about the three traditions of healing; the Scientific, Heroic and Wise Woman Traditions. In the Wise Woman Tradition (WWT), we use the tools of compassion, simple ritual, and common herbs to heal and help maintain health.   We see disease as an ally and as a portal to wholeness.   

What many see as a disease, Maya Abdominal Massage the Wise Woman Way sees as a gift that can, if nurtured and nourished, open the doorway to transformation. This technique aids in releasing tension and resistance to change through active heart centered compassion.  We recognize that healing occurs when we enter the place of the mystery/the void/the unknown, and with this knowing we create sacred space for deep healing to occur.

In Central America many of the grandmothers, the midwives, and the shamans know this technique.  It is at the core and the center of healing, just as our bellies are at the core and center of our bodies.  If we can release tension in our core, align our uterus in her healthy and central position, we can in turn be more centered and healthy in our lives.   

Most people carry an incredible amount of tension in their abdomen.  Often this tension stems from repressed emotions.  Abdominal tension can lead to experiences of difficult digestion, impaired circulation, uterine and prostate dysfunction.  By massaging our own abdomen or someone else’s, repressed emotions are encouraged to move.   This is such a powerful and gentle way to help a person heal themselves.

So many of the discomforts the modern woman faces with her uterus can be avoided through simple self -care.  Because the uterus is a “free floating” organ attached loosely to the pelvis by ligaments, the position of the uterus is constantly changing. If we have a hard fall, walk on cold floors, wear high heels, experience sexual abuse, have a long pushing stage in labor (among many other “traumas”), our uterus can shift position. 

If we do not massage her back to the center, dysfunction can arise.  A tipped uterus can cause fibroids, cysts, polyps, endometriosis, flooding, clotting, chronic urinary tract infections, infertility, sciatica, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, etc.  If we learn the simple techniques of MAM, we can apply these techniques on ourselves and help to heal and/or prevent the above dis-eases.

There are many complimentary therapies that are offered within the context of a session with a practitioner of Maya abdominal massage and these therapies differ.  Some of the most common are herbal medicine, castor oil packs, vaginal steams, wearing a faha (belly binder), nutritional advice and spiritual healing. Practitioners of the Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Massage™ are all licensed professionals and include such healing practices as massage therapy, acupuncture, midwifery, naturopathic medicine, and physical therapy.

I am really excited to delve into describing what a typical session looks like.  The first session lasts up to 2 hours.  We spend about half an hour reviewing an in depth intake form that clients fill out prior to their visit.  During this intake I use skills of active listening as well as paying close attention to body language, the feelings I am having in my body as I relate to my client, as well as smells, colors, images, sounds, visions.  When this part of the session is complete, I begin my hands on assessment. I assess the position of the hips and sacrum, the uterus, and the overall health of the abdomen. 

After my initial assessment, I spend the bulk of the session gently massaging the body and encouraging the body to open and return to healthy positioning.  I often burn herbs during the session as well as use specific herbs freshly harvested and applied to my client’s body to aid in healing. At the end of the session, I teach my client to do this technique on her/his self.  I also usually recommend a complimentary therapy to be completed at home based on my findings and treatment.

I love this work.  I have healed myself of chronic urinary tract infections by receiving sessions from a practitioner and doing self-care.  I have assisted in many healing transformations through applying these techniques.  This wisdom is ancient women’s wisdom.  When I remember the ancient ones, I see the grandmother’s in their homes attending to the health of the family through nourishment, touch, and the medicine of the plants.  These women are still with us, and they are within us.  Let’s access these ancient teachings so that we may pass them on to the next generations.