Friday, May 20, 2005

Massage and Mathematical Mappings

Today, I had some training on how to do a proper massage. That was quite interesting, but the idea that has caught my attention at the moment is that of what is called mapping. And the essence of the idea is that one thing can be, in some sense, the same as another.

For instance, the letters of our alphabet correlate to sounds. This is not perfect because some sounds have more than one letter ( an ‘S’ sound can be made with a ‘C’ or an ‘S’ ) and some letters have more than one sound (‘C’ either an ‘K’ or an ‘S’ sound ).

Or for another example, places on a map correspond to places in real life. My US highway map in my car shows the entire United States on paper, and each point corresponds to a actual physical point. This is called a one-to-one mapping, because for each point there is one location (only one Salina, Kansas) and for each location there is only one place on the map (Salina, KS only occurs once on the map).

Interestingly, the human body has a kind of self mapping. For instance Reflexology is the study of the pressure points on the feet. Each point on your body has a corresponding point on your foot. I imagine that if we found the point for the foot on the foot, then we would have a self-reference, and a situation like that of a painting, of a painting, of a painting.

In any case, there is a point on the foot for each point on the body. This is also true of the hand. When we talk about the eye, it is called Iridology, and is more useful for diagnosis than massage - at least I have not met anyone that particularly loves eyeball massages. The ear also has a set of points that correspond to each body part and organ. The tongue likewise. There may well be others that I am not aware of. This is not often explored mathematically, because there are not that many physician, alternative or otherwise, who have learned some mathematical set theory. Not that I am anything resembling an expert, because I am NOT.

I suppose that this means that there is no such thing as a localized illness. Every disease state is a state of the entire body. Not that cirrhosis of the liver will make my foot or hand unuseable, but that they are not in a state of optimum health. In practice this generally means that a corresponding point will be sore, but not necessarily. It is more complex than that! It would be nice if we could just use an MRI, or other medical scanner to see these connections, but, alas, it has not become evident how to do that yet. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, you have the so-called ‘Five Element Theory’ which groups the pressure point meridians and defines which ones influence which others. It is quite mathematical. Perhaps I will talk about that later and my own struggle with it.

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