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SOTHA

School of Thai Healing Arts

Channel: Sen (path, channel, string) : Sen are the paths or channels along which the life process flows. According to the Ancient texts of the Lanna Medicine Tradition of Northern Thailand, (The oldest and most intact tradition), the Sen are defined as Blood, Nerve Tendon and Ligament, and are located between Tissue and Bone. This very clear definition also gives a clue as to what the Sen are, which is the pathways for energy upon which life depends. Blood vessels transport blood to and from the cells. Nerves contain electrochemical impulses for the regulation and operation of most process in the body. Tendons attach muscles to bones, they transfer movement and force, ligaments attach bones to each other, they create stability without rigidity.

Most traditional doctors in Thailand, those who studied the ancient way, accept this definition of the Sen, the roots of which lie in Buddist medicine

However, in and around Bangkok a separate view of Sen is popular, which is influenced by the Yogic idea of Prana and Nadis . In this view the Sen are immaterial channels conveying a subtle energy, rather like the Meridians of Chinese Medicine. There are 10 of them and their paths and names show the influence of Yoga and Ayurveda. The Government of Thailand has favoured this latter view of the Sen in stipulating its official training curriculum, but its popularity outside of official training programs and the very many schools and students which form part of the  growing Thai massage industry is limited.

In some cases of Classical thai medicine, the two concepts are mixed together, so that whilst Sen are defined as Blood, Nerve, Tendon and Ligament, they are then believd to follow pathways which do not correspond to such anatomical features, leading to confusion.

My understanding which I have gained from discourse with Somananda Yogi (an american who has studied Traditional Thai Medicine at great depth) is that there are 3 types of Sen in the body.

The first is Major Sen, this is our direct connection with Universal Energy, what makes the Heart beat and keeps us alive, this energy is  elusive as it is so basic and everywhere. There are 10 major Sen, they cannot be touched or influenced directly, but only by treating the minor sen, or through certain access points.

The second energy path is our Minor Sen , these are the immediately discernable body constructs such as  tendon, blood, nerve and ligament (muscle is considered a separate category, it is not a channel), in a sense what animates us, what makes us move and do things. It is these Minor Sen which are the domain of Sen sip in Nuad Bo Ruan, as it is most accessible.  Palpation (feeling with your hands or fingers) and visual observation is the correct way of discerning where they are, and if they are blocked

The third energy path is our Invisible sen, these are the chemical and hormonal reactions which take place in the body.

The following are the views of Suklavastra :

"The Sen have different meanings, even in Thai medicine.  There are basically 3 kinds of Sen.  The major sen, the minor sen and the invisible sen.  First, let me explain what Sen means...  Sen can be translated as a line or a strand, as in a strand of hair or a noodle.  However, Sen also mean path.  Like when someone asks which path to take...  So the translation of meridian or line is not really complete.  Pathway is a more suitable translation.  

What Sen are are connections and pathways within the body.  

So, the major sen represent the fundamental energies in the body which give us life, keep us alive, manage our various bodies (physical, emotional, energetic, mental and spiritual).  These are much harder to affect as therapist as they are so major to the body.  However there are Lom and Access points that go along with these Sen.  Then there are the minor sen...  These are physical manifestations of one of the major sen that brings 'energy' throughout the body.  These minor sen have physical representations.  They are the nerves, arteries, veins, capillaries, tendons and fascia connections in the body which link all the different parts together.  There are large, medium and small in size.  There are also a group of therapeutic points that go along with these sen.  The Lom of these Sen is dependent upon which type we are discussing, so if we are talking about the nerves, then the lom is the electrical impulse, in the blood vessels it's the movement of the blood, in the tendons, it's contraction of the muscle...  See, this was well known to ancient people but the language they used to explain it was different.  Now we have people misunderstanding things because of language.  So, we already have different concepts of Lom in these two different kind of Sen.  The third type of Sen are invisible Sen.  These are the chemical connections in the body.  Hormones and neurotransmitters are and example of this.  In addition to this, there are what we call Wind Gates and they have an affect on the Wind in a body's channels as a whole.  So, that includes the three type of sen and three type of points.  The types of Lom are, according to the text, 108."

                                                                 - Somananda Yogi (Private correspondance)

Of course all 3 energies are inter-related, it should be noted that generally Lhom Pran  is visible only when it is blocked, like a river overflowing its banks or a boulder in a stream,we notice the disruptions in the flow, more than the flow itself.

The 10 Sen

The names and directions of the 10 Sen show an affinity with the Traditional Indian Medicine concept of nadis (tubes or pipes) through which subtle energy (Prana) flows, especially the names of the 3 main Sen are almost identical in name and location to the 3 greatest Nadis, indicating a Yogic influence on Southern Thai medical culture. There remains considerable variety in the interpretations of the Sen sip, from school to school, book to book, teacher to teacher, one can be excused for finding it all confusing, or for deciding to follow one version and not the others. I believe one must verify theory with experience, to arrive at understanding. For this reason I choose not to describe in details the routes taken by the Sen, until I can verify them by experience, however certain parts they all have in common.

The descriptions of the Sen sip according to the texts are as follows:

Sen Sumanaa

Origin: 2 fingerís distance (Aguli) above the Navel

Termination: Bottom of the tongue

Orifice: Mouth

Governs: Speech

Body Parts: Heart, Digestive, Mouth, Back, Chest, Neck, Etc.

Systems: Digestive, Circulatory (Central Vessels), Nervous (Central), Etc.

Text: Directly associated with and responsible for Speech,

Taste, Digestion of Food, the health and balance of the

Mind/Heart, it is the ruling energy of the main vessels

and all branches. It is directly related with the

Descending Aorta.

Sen Itha

Origin: 1 fingerís distance to the left of the Navel

Termination: Left nostril

Orifice: Nose

Governs: Breath

Body Parts: Nose, Sinuses, Head, Back, Knees (Left Side), Etc.

Systems: Respiratory, Spine/Muscular-Skeletal, Sexual,

Circulatory, Etc.

Text: Directly associated with and regulates: Breathing, Spinal Cord and Spinal Nerves, Brain and Temperature

in the Body.

Sen Pingalaa

Origin: 1 fingerís distance to the right of the Navel

Termination: Right Nostril

Orifice: Nose

Governs: Breath

Body Parts: Nose, Sinuses, Head, Back, Knees (Right Side), Etc.

Systems: Respiratory, Spine/Muscular-Skeletal, Sexual,

Circulatory, Etc.

Text: Directly associated with and regulates: Breathing,

Spinal Cord and Spinal Nerves, Brain and Temperature

in the Body.

Sen Kalatharee

Origin: 1 fingerís distance above the Navel

Termination: 10 fingers and 10 toes

Orifice: Navel

Governs: Movement (In all forms, blood, nervous impulse,

muscular, etc.)

Body Parts: Limbs, Nerves, Muscles, Bones, Etc.

Systems: Circulatory, Muscular-Skeletal, Nervous (Peripheral),

Etc.

Text: It is responsible for the function and health of the 5

limbs. It is also the Sen that is responsible for

maintaining the balance and equal function of the 4

Elements.

Sen Sahatsarangsi

Origin: 3 fingerís distance to the left of the Navel

Termination: Left Eye

Orifice: Eyes

Governs: Sight

Body Parts: Chest, Lower Abdomen, Ankles, Breast, Eyes (Left

Side), Etc.

Systems: Visual, Lower Musculature, Leg, Etc.

Text: Responsible for all actions of the Eye.

Sen Tawaaree

Origin: 3 fingerís distance right of the Navel

Termination: Right Eye

Orifice: Eye

Governs: Sight

Body Parts: Chest, Lower Abdomen, Ankles, Breast, Eyes (Right

Side), Etc.

Systems: Visual, Lower Musculature, Leg, Etc.

Text: Responsible for all actions of the Eye.

Sen Candabhuusang (Lawusang)

Origin: 4 fingerís distance above the Navel

Termination: Left ear

Orifice: Ear

Governs: Hearing

Body Parts: Ears, Jaw, Teeth, Throat (Left Side)

Systems: Auditory, Musculature in Jaw/Face, Respiratory, Etc.

Text: Responsible for all actions of the Ear.

Sen Rudang (Ulangka) (Durang)

Origin: 4 fingerís distance above the Navel

Termination: Right ear

Orifice: Ear

Governs: Hearing

Body Parts: Ears, Jaw, Teeth, Throat (Right Side)

Systems: Auditory, Musculature in Jaw/Face, Respiratory, Etc.

Text: Responsible for all actions of the Ear

Sen Sikhinii (Women) Gijha (Men)

Origin: 1 . - 2 fingerís distance below the Navel and slightly

to the Right

Termination: Urethra

Orifice: Urethra / Vagina

Governs: Vitality

Body Parts: Ovaries, Testes, Prostate, Uterus, Sex Organs, Bladder

Systems: Reproductive

Text: Related to the function of the Sexual Organs and the

Bladder

Sen Sukhumang

Origin: 2 fingerís distance below the Navel and slightly to the

Left

Termination: Anus

Orfice: Anus

Governs: Elimination

Body Parts: Lower Digestive Tract, Bladder, Kidneys, Colon, Etc.

Systems: Eliminative Ė Colon, Bladder

Text: Regulates the flow of Energy in the Lower Orifices.

Especially associated with Elimination