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Touch Points

Holistic Healing and Acupressure

Article by Robin Moyer Chung

Photography by Heidi Curran

Originally published in Westport Lifestyle

In America, we love our meds. Back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, medical residents were instructed to: 1. Examine, 2. Diagnose, 3. Prescribe. No matter the ache or malady, patients trotted home with medicine. A fistful of pills, regardless of what they were, seemed to alleviate any condition, mental or physical.

Society became leery of alternative medicine, so embedded into our collective psychosis that panaceas were found in plastic pharmaceutical containers.

Generations later, our understanding of healing is evolving just as we’ve become disenchanted with drugs and their dangerous, sometimes deadly, side effects. Which is excellent timing because, according to CNBC, anxiety disorders have increased nearly 75% since last March, with demand for therapy and medication growing commensurately. These disorders are manifesting themselves in pain, illness, and mental suffering. More often we’re turning to alternative healing instead of capsules and elixirs.

Westport resident Injae Choe, founder and principal of SUGI Acupressure, has based his practice on Eastern healing since 2003. With an undergraduate degree in Chinese and French, an MBA, a massage license, and PhD in psychology (all from super smart schools), he could be pretty much anything he wanted to be, including a rock star (another article). Instead he decided to follow in his dad’s footsteps and heal people with his hands. “Hands,” Injae states, “are the most powerful tool we have.”

I went to his office for a session. Full disclosure, my dad was a surgeon and almost every dad I knew growing up was a doctor. I’ve been trained to put my faith entirely in Western medicine and I’m convinced I’m impervious to every affliction, save the common cold and mosquito bites. But I’m open to anything and I’m better at experiences than explanations.

Injae’s office is airy and unpretentious. I walked in and he asked me where I needed help. Anti-aging, definitely (he does that!), anti-anxiety, and I had just had two molars ripped out of my skull so pain reduction was welcome.

He nodded his head and I lay face-down on a mat. Kneeling, he pressed two hands on my back. “I’m finding the cause of blockage to your chi flow,” he explained.

As he put pressure on key points, “trying to find energy.” I asked what was his most common ailment. “Back pain,” he quickly responded.

“What people don’t realize,” he continued, “is that back pain isn’t always due to trauma to the back. It’s often in the hip flexor. Or it’s not unusual that they suddenly remember a traumatic experience that they had locked away. They realize this experience was causing the pain.”

At its most basic, our bodies and organs need an even flow of blood to operate effectively. Acupressure uses hand pressure to unblock and allow steady circulation of blood through certain “acupoints.” Acupoints are areas which may hinder the flow. The flow is the “chi”, the energy and joy of life.

“Think of your body as a hose,” he explains. “Only a little water comes out, so we check the entire hose for kinks that may be obstructing the water, not just the top of the hose or where we think it might be."

By “decluttering this congestion” Injae helps to re-establish the mind/body connection. The body “experiences relief” through a clean flow of blood/chi, and the brain becomes better equipped to receive positive, life affirming messages.

While most of his work is done in a meditative silence, Injae combines acupressure with talk therapy for more progressive results.

He told me this as he dug at my shoulders and neck. I’ve been going to physical therapy for that area for a few weeks now.

Moments after he finished there was a knock on the door; another client. I left, feeling lighter and more relaxed than I did when I entered. The ache in my shoulder was gone and I was smiling as I drove away.

Sadly, I didn’t look any younger. Maybe next time I'll opt for the anti-aging treatment.

  • Injae Choe