East Meets West

Massage therapist Abbey Seiden, who moved from New York, uses acupressure to release tension. Seiden explained that the lifestyle in Malibu is very different from New York.

“If everything is moving freely, there is no tension, no disharmony and no pain,” Abbey Seiden, who has found a perfect fit at the Malibu Healing Center on PCH after moving west from New York, said. She’s the newest member of their team and calls on her training in Chinese medicine.

Seiden finds Malibu residents take their health more seriously than New Yorkers. “Many of my clients there wanted 20-minute sessions during their lunch hour so they could hurry back to work. They would respond to emails during a session because they feared they’d lose their job if they didn’t answer immediately.

“The lifestyle here is so different. It’s a wonderful luxury in Malibu to be able to eat outside most of the year and go for walks along the beach. You open the door and you’re surrounded by beauty and space. That’s what drew me.”

The basic premise is that if you send your mind somewhere, the energy will follow.

“Our minds are so powerful,” Seiden said. “When a baby is born, everything is flowing and they feel all emotions. Adults need to relearn how to let their emotions move freely, not suppress them.” 

That’s not to say illness and pain are all in the mind. There can be tension in the body because energy isn’t flowing or there may have been a traumatic physical or emotional episode bottled up over the years and become stuck somewhere.

“I find the areas where the energy is not moving, where there’s tension, and release it,” Seiden said. She also shared some great tips.

“If you want to stop smoking, write down your affirmations as to why you don’t want to be a smoker anymore … your kids, your health. Then collect your cigarette butts and put them in a covered jar with water. If you get a craving, shake the jar, then open and smell it. This will most likely get rid of the craving, as it smells disgusting.”

For eyestrain or headaches from too much time at the computer, “imagine that your eyes are like the hands of a clock and breathe in. Close your eyes. Behind their lids, get your eyes to look up to noon, exhale, then move to one o’clock, breathe in and exhale. Move your eyes all the way around the clock. It takes about a minute. It brightens and lubricates your eyes and improves circulation.”

Do you have trouble getting going in the morning or suffer from afternoon fatigue? Try this: use a loose fist to tap all the meridian channels over your body. Up and down the arms, legs, shoulders, everywhere you can tap. It’s almost a self-massage. You’re moving and circulating the energy in your body from head to toe. “It’s a simple qigong exercise that takes five minutes,” Seiden said. “Notice how you feel before and after.”

Seiden had a thriving acupuncture practice in New York and was a faculty member at the Tri-State College of Acupuncture, but felt a calling to move to Southern California after many family holidays throughout the state.

Despite five years training in New York, Seiden isn’t allowed to practice acupuncture in California unless she repeats that training here. Conversely, California-trained acupuncturists can practice in New York without more training. Seiden is philosophical about this and says she will probably bite that expensive bullet to requalify here.

In the meantime, she can bring her other healing skills to the massage table. She can’t use needles, but can employ acupressure, which she incorporates into her massage and body work.

As a record producer and songwriter, Seiden’s husband, Gary Philips, can work anywhere as long as it’s New York, Nashville or L.A. and was happy to move here with the couple’s seven-year-old daughter Kayleigh, a second-grader at Malibu’s Webster School.

“We are here to stay,” Seiden said. “We love the community and the fabulous school system. I can’t imagine any situation that would make me want to leave.”

Seiden will be leading a free class on the ancient healing art of qigong at Topanga Library on Saturday, May 9 at 3 p.m.