Licensed Massage Therapist Discusses 8 Branches of Wellness in Traditional Chinese Medicine

traditionalchinesemedicineWe live in a world where there’s always a lot going on, don’t we? There are so many details to juggle, that often just deciding what to have for dinner can feel overwhelming. In the midst of all the other things we have to deal with on the daily, our own personal wellness often becomes a fairly low priority. What does wellness look like to you? Do you just try to eat a few more fruits and veggies and call it good? Do you try to get to the gym a couple times a week? Do you get acupuncture once a month? Do you not worry about it until you actually get sick? Good questions. Let’s begin at the very beginning: “Where do you start?”

Let’s Start with a List

Though it may sound perhaps overly-simple, I want to share with you  one of Traditional Chinese Medicine’s (TCM) very most foundational lists of everything a person needs in their life to maintain wellness in body, mind, and spirit.

8 Branches of Wellness in Traditional Chinese Medicine

  1. Meditation: Meditation is an essential tool for disciplining the mind. It helps us approach life from a place of grounding. It teaches us how to not be burdened by the mind’s constant chatter. It teaches us to sit still through the discomforts in life and know we will survive. It teaches us to be comfortable spending time alone with ourselves—which is the basic definition of health.
  1. Movement: This refers to intentional movement, not just exercise. Tai Chi and Qi Gong are especially good for this. They benefit our bodies and minds by strengthening muscles, creating balance, building the bones, deepening the breath, and circulating qi and blood.
  1. Nutrition: We’re all familiar with this one, right? Nutrition is often the root of imbalance and thus the point where the imbalance can be changed.
  1. Cosmology/ Astrology: This concept focuses on the observation of natural rhythms and cycles that are apparent in nature and mimicked in the body. By understanding these cycles, you can start to notice patterns that may arise at a certain time or day, or season, and you can learn to harmonize your body with the changing cycles and seasons.
  1. Geomancy: This is all about understanding how your environment affects you. It includes the principles of feng shui, which is basically the tailoring of your environment energetically to suit you. By understanding the interactions of nature, climate, season, location, work space and home environment in relationship to your own energetics, you can create balance in all aspects of your life.
  1. Bodywork: There are several types of Asian bodywork available out there. I happen to practice a Korean healing art called Amma Therapy. Read more about Amma Therapy here.
  1. Herbs: Herbs, both Chinese and Western, can have a powerful impact on the body’s ability to bring itself back toward a state of balance. Formulations are carefully chosen with consideration for the client’s overall pattern.
  1. Acupuncture: There are several types of acupuncture styles, but the basic point of any type of acupuncture is to regulate and balance the flow of Qi (energy) in the body—which can relieve pain and assist in healing and balancing the body.

How Do I start My Journey to Wellness with the 8 Branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine?

The Eight Branches are truly all you need to maintain a state of body/mind/spirit balance. HOWEVER…let’s be real. It’s one thing to be aware of the list. It’s another thing to implement the list. Most of us are going to need some guidance. Additionally, another one of a TCM practitioner’s core principles is this: we meet the individual wherever they’re at on their wellness journey and then work from the least invasive treatment to the most invasive treatment necessary. That could mean that you show up with some work-related stress and meditation is a good place for you to start. Or you could show up with an advanced illness, and surgery really is the only option. We’d start there—then possibly implement some meditation, mindful movement, and nutrition later to help with recovery.

Wherever you’re at in your wellness journey, an Amma Therapist can meet you at that place and help guide you along the way. Bodywork is Number 6 on the Eight Branches list, but Amma Therapy is so much more than just the bodywork component. It is a comprehensive form of wholistic healthcare that draws on the principles of TCM (including Eight Branches) to guide you toward balance and wellness in every area of your life.

If this sounds interesting to you, we might be a good fit for working together. Call Heart Spring Health to schedule an Amma Therapy appointment with me.

Keri Crittenden is an Amma Therapist (LMT#22197) at Heart Spring Health, a Portland natural medicine clinic. They studied Amma at The Wellspring School for Healing Arts. Here are a few of Keri’s personal philosophies on wellness that influence the work they do with their clients:

  • Wellness of body-mind-spirit is a deeply personal and individual experience
  • Wellness of body, mind, and spirit are interdependent
  • Wellness is a journey to be lived—not an achievement to be reached
  • Each person is the expert on their own body
  • Hope is one of the greatest catalysts for healing and wellness

To schedule an Amma Therapy appointment with Keri at Heart Spring Health, call 503-956-9396. For more information about the clinic, visit