Meridian Massage Book Review

Mark Vrooland is a Shiatsu Practitioner in Rotterdam. He has a wonderful blog, “Happy Hara.” – I am honored that he reviewed my book, Meridian Massage, Opening Pathways to Vitality. Below is the interview, copied by permission:

Cindy Black, author or Meridian Massage: “Find your own unique expression of Qi”

Cindy Black, a US-based writer and teacher, provides online classes in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)  for Massage Therapists. Her book ‘Meridian Massage, Opening Pathways to Vitality’ is popular among TCM-newcomers but is also valuable for seasoned practitioners. “It’s not shiatsu, it’s not Thai massage, it’s not acupressure. That has been my challenge: describing what it is, instead of what it’s not. “

When I spoke Cindy she was in sunny Florida.  She moves with the warmth of the seasons. In the summer she moves back to Ithaca,  New York, which is close to the border of Canada. Cindy is the founder of the Big Tree School of Natural Healing, a Massage Therapist, Acupuncturist and the writer of the book ‘Meridian Massage’, which is the reason we are on the phone right now.

Meridian Massage Book


“I did practice acupuncture for a little while, but I am just better at using my hands. So I pursued more education after I completed my Master’s degree in Chinese medicine. I really wanted to feel the heart and soul of it. I found a teacher in Canada, Khadro. She taught me a form of abdominal massage, Chi Nei Tsang. With her help, I could integrate all the knowledge I had been gaining over the previous years. This really opened up a whole ocean of possibility for me.”

“We have the same opportunity to observe as the ancients did. There is still the earth, the sky, wind, trees, grass, all of that…”

Straight to the Qi

“In shiatsu and acupuncture, we always try to diagnose and evaluate what’s going on with the organs and use acupuncture points to balance these organs. What I learned from Khadro is that you can go straight to the abdominal organs. Straight to the Qi. I was really taken by that. I began combining abdominal massage with hands-on contact to the meridians and acupuncture points. I  used it on my clients with great success, and then started teaching it to other Massage Therapists.”


“My shiatsu training was pretty formal. Shiatsu has a whole theory and a method. It’s a wonderful method, but I am not good at following rules. I was taught that you always give shiatsu on the floor, not on a massage table. I found out, that if I let that rule go I, I could integrate points and meridians into my regular massage therapy work on the table. This became my practice of meridian massage.”

Mindful contact

“Meridian massage is more of an approach than a specific method of massage. I am teaching the theory of Chinese Medicine to people who are already hands-on practitioners, like sport massage therapists. I help them to add this approach to their incredible skill of mindful contact. They combine it with what they already know.”

“My intention is to support people to return to their own Qi”


“The reason why I called it meridian massage is because I wanted it to be general. I am not teaching a technique. I teach the theory. Daoism is the philosophical and spiritual basis of TCM. From the Dao, it is said that we all have to find our own expression of life. We all find our own way. To me, that’s how I am teaching. I offer the theory and I encourage others to find their own unique expression how they apply it.”

Online classes

A few years ago Cindy also started to give online TCM-classes. “I began teaching this in person. People asked me to put it online. At first, I thought it is not possible to do this, but then I decided to do it as best as I could. I have found that I can teach the theory very well this way. It was a surprise to me too!”


“Now I offer a 3-month intensive online course.  From January to April we walk through all the courses. From yin-yang, five elements, organ systems and 60 acupuncture points. The people are working on their own, but once a week we have a live-meeting to review the material and take it deeper.”

What is the biggest challenge of our time where TCM can help?

“TCM helps to keep the Qi abundant and flowing. Because that’s the bases of health. It a very simple premise, but consistently maintaining that is a huge challenge. Because people, in general, are overworking and there’s all this external distraction. As that happens, as we get drawn away from ourselves. We lose our connection to Qi, to our own life force. My intention is to support people to return to their own Qi.”

Do you have any tips to reconnect with your own Qi?

“Take a little time each day to be in a quiet place by yourself. And feel your breath going in and out. Another translation for Qi is breath. So we understand directly from Qi by feeling our breath. It helps you to rebalance your system.”


Another exercise is to get in back in contract with the earth. Just stand. Be very conscious about standing on the earth. With your feet firm on the ground. Head to the sky. Just feeling your breath and wondering in the same way that the ancients did – before all of this knowledge, technology and information we have coming at us today. Just wonder about the earth, the sky and our place here. TCM was discovered by observation. We have the same opportunity to observe as the ancients did. There is still the earth, the sky, wind, trees, grass, all of that…”

Visit Mark Vrooland at the Happy Hara Blog

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Cindy Black

Cindy Black is the Founder of Big Tree School of Natural Healing and the author of Meridian Massage, Pathways to Vitality. She is appreciated for her ability to make the complex accessible, fun, and practical.


  1. Dorothy on January 4, 2018 at 11:58 pm

    Can this book show me some key points to use on my sister, she had a massive stroke right brain.
    I’ve been doing a lot of massage, body work & energy work. Since she’s been home She has made some remarkable improvements. Always searching for ways to help others.

    • Cindy Black on January 5, 2018 at 8:12 am

      Hi Dorothy,
      The book explores the theory needed to give you a deeper understanding of points and the potential of hands-on Chinese medicine (Meridian Massage). I cover 108 acupoints, address many ailments, and offer you new ways in which to approach individual circumstances.
      I don’t address stroke directly, but I imagine you will learn more ways to support your sister and others. It is wonderful that you are giving her so much massage, bodywork, and energy work – these are all powerful approaches of healing, as you and your sister are witnessing.

  2. judy butt on January 4, 2018 at 9:33 am

    I love it. How terrific! Luv was the name of our dog years ago.

    • Cindy Black on January 4, 2018 at 9:44 am


  3. Lenore Anderson on January 4, 2018 at 9:14 am

    I was one of Cindy Blacks first students in Meridian Massage. I was trained in massage therapy and I had training in acupressure and I wanted to put them together in my practice. Cindy’s knowledge of hands on bodywork, acupuncture and Chinese Medicine was just what I needed to learn how I could integrate these wise and effective methods of healing.
    I have started using the title Meridian Massage, and people are beginning to discover what a meridian is and I teach them how to trace it and listen to any pain points.
    Cindy knows this work at a very deep level and yet she values each students way of integrating and practicing what works best for them. You learn the theory and some methods, then you are free to take what works best for you into your own practice.

    • Cindy Black on January 4, 2018 at 9:44 am

      Dear Lenore,
      You are a gifted and wise healer – thank you very much for your reflections about Meridian Massage and your support.
      I appreciate all that you do for your clients – they are a fortunate group!
      For those of you in the Northampton, MA area, you have a wonderful resource with Lenore!

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