Shiatsu books give lists of conditions and symptoms that shiatsu can cure. But in the end, does shiatsu really ‘cure’ conditions? And does viewing and practicing shiatsu from that perspective allow us to access its most powerful potential?
If a person pursues a path that does not resonate with their true nature, their potential for creating and expressing is often greatly diminished. Shiatsu is often practiced in a way that exhibits this dynamic; instead of taking full advantage of the unique capacity of touch, it tends to be approached from a specialized and conceptual framework that is not in alignment with its true nature.
Over the past few decades, shiatsu is often used in a way that is trying to emulate the practice of acupuncture and other more western therapeutic practices in order to gain more respect with the medical community and general public. But just like when a person tries to imitate another in order to 'be better,' this method not only backfires, it misses the opportunity to utilize the unique capacity of shiatsu: to effect change at the most primitive layer of the information system. Instead of working in a specialized manner to adjust the function of the meridians and organs and systems of the body, shiatsu often has more power when it goes underneath these levels to address the core energy, or ki, of the body.
We are not doing surgery, acupuncture, osteopathic or chiropractic work. These are very valuable therapies that each have unique healing effects on the body. But in shiatsu, we are working with touch that is applied within specific parameters. What is the most we can accomplish with this type of bodywork? In order to access the true transformative potential of shiatsu and shin tai (a form of shiatsu that uses Governing Vessel & Conception Vessel as a primary means of evaluation and treatment), we have to understand the origin and nature of touch.
Touch and touch response is the most basic sense of the primitive cell. Touch makes the distinction between the cell and its environment through responses in the cell membrane. The membrane registers changes in chemical composition, light, vibration, and pressure.
Touch contains the information of all the other senses. For example, particles of a substance need to ‘touch’ the olfactory receptor neurons in the nasal cavity in order for it to be detected as a smell. When a sound is made, the vibrating sound waves that are created need to touch and vibrate the ear drum in order to be heard. Touch is a factor in all of the sensory experiences, and pressure is the medium through which it is discerned.
Because touch is the most primal sense of the primitive cell, it is the most potent means to restore the primal life force of the body. And because touch applied with pressure is a primary characteristic of shiatsu, this type of bodywork has tremendous potential to effect change at this level of the body. Rather than try to emulate other methods of therapeutic practices (such as acupuncture) by introducing more complexity and focusing on specialized diagnosis and treatment strategies, we can instead amplify the unique transformational possibilities of our work by using it in a way that is in alignment with its true nature. By focusing on using shiatsu to restore primal life force through touch, we can unleash its greatest potential.
If you are reading this article, you have most likely chosen to practice bodywork in some capacity. This means you have an affinity for this style of healing. Rather than study to become a doctor, a chiropractor, an acupuncturist, etc., you have chosen to learn about bodywork. You are attracted to using touch as a means of listening, healing and transformation because it suits some part of your nature. In uniting your own nature with that of shiatsu lies an extraordinary opportunity for you to provide an expanding experience of freedom and creativity to those who come to you seeking health.