Shape of the Navel
There is an entire healing art based on abdominal massage. Most westerners are used to a relaxing massage at the spa where they don’t work on the abdomen at all. From the Taoist viewpoint, massaging the abdomen is way to work on all the vital organs directly. Further, the abdomen is a grand central station of the nervous system, digestive system, lymphatic system, tendons, and some endocrine glands.
One way to diagnosis the health of the student/patient before abdominal massage is to look at the shape of the navel. The navel should be round, even on all sides, and centered in the abdomen. The walls of the navel should be the same height, from the floor of the navel, all the way around. The floor of the navel should also be circular. No parts of the navel should be too hard or tight.
When the navel is off-centered or misshapen, it can be pulled in one or more directions. Over time, the practitioner can tell where the organ imbalance is because the navel will pull in that direction. As the practitioner follows the tightness of the navel, there will be blockages and congestion on the way to the organ. For instance, a common issue could be that the navel pulls down and to the left (from the student/patient’s point of view.) This can indicate tightness in the descending colon and stagnation from excess fecal matter that needs to be moved out.
For the individual, obtaining health through abdominal massage can be much simpler. Feel your own abdomen, radiating out from the navel in each direction. Anywhere you feel tightness, stop there and use circular massage to loosen up that area. It may be that the gallbladder or liver is tight, tender, and in pain. Or, the solar plexus could be hard like a rock. In noticing the tightness in your body, see if there is a relationship with the amount of water (or whiskey) you drink amd/or the amount of stress you’re under. The best abdominal massage teacher I know is Karin Sorvik at Nei Tsang Qigong https://neitsangqigong.com/
More stress-reduction, self-massage, and meditation techniques outlined in:
The Alchemist’s Tao Te Ching: Transforming Your Lead Into Gold