Learning Shiatsu via Video & Livestream

Recently we received an email from a shiatsu practitioner in Croatia about an online video class:

I have been disappointed that you have not visited Croatia for long time, as I was always inspired by your lectures. As a compensation for not being able to be part of your classes, I have decided to order this video material, and it was not a mistake. I would like to thank you for knowledge which you have been sharing with all of us; it is beyond magnificent to be part of this story.
— Drazen Matosic, Shiatsu Practitioner, Split, Croatia

Another long-time shin tai instructor, Celeste Rixey, was recently telling us how much she enjoyed taking the Light Body Activation course (in November 2018) with us via livestream. She was so surprised at how involved and connected she felt even though she was not present in-person. She had been quite resistant to the idea of participating livestream but it was the only way she could 'be' there and it ended up being a wonderful experience for her. We also really loved having 25+ people take part in this way from 7 different countries. Of course, none of it could have happened without the core group of in-person participants holding the space!

These are reminders to us of the value of using these ways to learn. We are willing and excited to expand into new ways to share bodywork and stay connected with you. That is why we are offering more opportunities this year to participate in classes via livestream video. Rather than saying no to those of you who kept asking, we have decided to say yes :) So instead of helping to teach this year, Lynn will be the full-time camera woman while I do all the instructing. We realize that video instruction is not a replacement for in-person training, but it is a wonderful opportunity to develop and deepen your skills. 

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So maybe you have been wanting to take the Neck Alignment class but can't get to the states, or want to review Central Channel, or want to add shin tai to your practice with Governing Vessel or Conception Vessel classes.... you now have the option to try out 'coming to class' via your phone or computer. I feel that the Light Body Activation classes are especially effective to attend via livestream. We welcome you to attend on your own or gather a small group to take a class together. Please click here to see to our schedule for upcoming classes.


Shiatsu Techniques of the Masters

Shiatsu Techniques of the Masters

FREE Video Course: 

Techniques of the Masters - The Back

This is an opportunity to try out our online classroom for free to expand your bodywork skills and your practice. The first section of the instructional video course Shiatsu Techniques of the Masters is now free of charge. Through a series of instructional videos, learn a sequence of traditional shiatsu techniques for working with the back. To enroll, please click on the link below:


To read more about the topic of learning shiatsu through video, please go to this past blog post: Learning Shiatsu via Video - Is it effective?


For information about our instructional video courses, please click on the links below:

Preventing the Holiday/Winter Blues with Shin Tai

Happy Holidays?

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The holidays and winter are here. Let’s celebrate! It’s a time of great opportunity, enjoyment and fun. In addition, it is a time that we can experience deep healing and spiritual growth.As we know the holiday season can also be challenging. For many it can end up in disappointment, anxiety and unfulfilled expectations. The holidays can wreak havoc on our physical, emotional and mental well being.

Staying joyful and peaceful during this time of year means keeping our attention in the present. It means enjoying who we are with, and being grateful for the things we have. It is wishing health and happiness to those that we can’t be with due to the holiday family shuffle. There is the need to make choices, sometimes difficult, about where to go and what to do.


 
The past is seldom as we would have it. The future yet unknown. Embrace the present.... and strike all else from concern.
— Spartacus, speaking to a warrior preparing for battle
 

Winter Energy

Winter energy is deep and inward. Energetically, it is a time best suited for quiet and calm. It’s a good time to review and reflect in order to set priorities and clarify our vision of the life we are creating. Ironically this is the time of year that we are pushed to be more outgoing and social. We often feel obligated to engage in emotionally charged activities that are much more appropriate for spring and summer, when energy is moving in a similar out-going direction.

How do people shift the direction of their energy in order to participate in the mandatory celebrations? They use alcohol, sugar, caffeine and drugs which activate the outward excited energy flows. The cost of this is high: it is an unnatural assault on our body cycles and disruptive to the regenerative patterns of our organs. To compound these effects, alcohol and drugs are also used to numb down the pain of holiday stress and disappointment. In addition to these substances, people tend to overeat foods and drink that are not appropriate for cold weather and actually decrease the body’s capacity to handle winter temperatures. These choices can leave a person’s immune system weak and their emotions unstable.

While we can’t change this upside down social pattern overnight, following are a few things you can do to avoid the holiday-winter blues.

Food Suggestions

Of course, natural foods are always the best for our system. In winter there are a few additions that can be particularly helpful. Burdock and other root vegetables like rutabaga keep the body warm. Cooked as a stew with kombu will help generate heat in the body and enable us to enjoy outside winter activities. Wild burdock is best, but commercial burdock will do.

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Buckwheat is a grain often used in cold climates. Eastern Europeans use it as a staple and understand traditionally that it is a winter food. I liked the buckwheat dishes my mother (who was of Ukrainian descent) cooked when I was growing up; I remember her saying “it’s a winter food.”

Use rice syrup or stevia concentrate to satisfy sweet cravings. Stevia not only helps reduce attraction to sweets, it helps to regenerate pancreatic cells (which regulate blood sugar). This can help balance out the effects of the many sweets that are often consumed at this time of year.

Clothing Tips

Winter is the time of the kidneys and kidney regeneration. This is the organ that gives us vitality and incentive. The kidneys keep our blood clean and help us create heat by metabolizing proteins. Ironically, the kidneys are weakened and stressed by alcohol, caffeine and sugar. Weak kidneys make us fatigued and feeble. When they are not strong, we lack drive for engaging in life’s challenges. Weak kidneys also make us feel chilly and cold.

Wear a hara warmer, which wraps around the abdomen and covers the kidney area in the back. This is a common winter accessory in many parts of the world. This will protect your kidneys and keep you much warmer in cold weather. You can wrap a scarf around your waist/hips to function in a similar way. When it’s particularly frigid wear a fur lined Russian hat. They really keep you warm in freezing weather.


Hangovers

I need a buckwheat pancake….

I need a buckwheat pancake….

If you drink too much, eat a plain buckwheat pancake before going to sleep. The buckwheat will soak up the excess liquid and alkalize your body. The next morning…… no hangover + clear head!* Try it. Use only buckwheat flour, salt and water to make the pancake batter. Also, prepare it ahead. You might not feel like mixing this stuff up if you come in late and loaded.

You can also wash off a small piece of kombu seaweed and eat it raw before going to bed. Make sure you chew it very well. This will help you to feel clear in the morning, no matter how you felt the night before.

* tested in numerous real life situations

Shin Tai Treatments

Bodywork before, during and after the holidays keeps us in the present and operating on real-time information. It keeps us resilient and flexible even when the stress and pressure of the holidays shows up.

Shin tai treatments release stress patterns in the body that are activated by family dynamics and social pressure. They enable us to move through the upset-ness of others and transform negativity into useful energy, renewal and mindfulness. By freeing our perception from being populated with past time information, shin tai can keep our consciousness in the present and out of the grip of guilt, regret, and hurtful past experiences.

I will be giving treatments in the mornings and late afternoons over the next two months. If you need a session give me a call at (267) 372-1644. Lynn is also available at (267) 347-2290.

Happy Holidays everyone and best wishes, Saul


Bring more skill & depth to your bodywork practice with our online video courses. Study at your own pace whenever you want, wherever you are. Click on each course below for more info:

Dealing with Diagnosis: What to do when you don't know what to do

Last year we sent out a survey about your bodywork studies & practice. It included a question asking what your biggest questions & challenges were with shiatsu. Over the next few months, we will be sharing our responses to many of your questions. Below is our response to one of the most common questions we were asked:

Question - I often get overwhelmed with diagnosis. There are so many things to consider and so many methods of diagnosis (kyo/jitsu, pulse, meridian, face, tongue, voice, structure, motion, etc.) that often I just shut down and can't figure out what to do. How do I find the most important thing to work on at each moment in a treatment? 


Response - The word diagnosis itself can be a trap. A broader way to think about it is being responsive to the receiver. Watch, listen and let yourself respond naturally to what you notice. You simply have to listen, receive and respond. What comes to you, no matter how basic, has value.

Let yourself focus on what you do notice, instead of what you don't. Don't force diagnosis, don't go chasing after information. If you find yourself struggling, go more simple and more general. This applies to both diagnosis and technique.

Use Primitive Diagnosis for a Primitive System

If you have studied shin tai work, remember that the 'diagnosis' for the central channel and Governing Vessel/Conception Vessel is more primitive because they are a more primitive level of energy in the body. We use motion as the main diagnosis for this part of the system. That might sound boring or unimportant or not very 'professional' compared to finding constrained liver chi or a racing SP pulse, but motion can give potent information regarding the condition of life force and how to enhance it. 

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Beginning a treatment by addressing this primal part of the energy system (GV/CV) will naturally have you beginning with observation of motion. If and when the treatment moves into working with more specialized aspects of the energy system, like the 5 elements or 12 meridians, you can apply the more specialized types of diagnosis that you know for guidance. Notice what you are drawn to and what comes to you rather than looking to figure out every possible type of diagnosis. For example, you may find yourself becoming very aware of a client's hip structure partway through a session. If your attention is drawn there repeatedly and then you notice that motion is quite restricted through one side of the pelvis/sacrum, you might decide to do a structural evaluation and go through the structural adjustments. Another example could be that you find a client's voice particularly distinctive and all the sudden it comes to you that their cadence is very sing-songy.... this indicates imbalance in earth energy (ST/SP). But if a type of diagnosis is not coming to you with relative ease, it is not necessary to chase after it. 



Clear Perception Requires a Clear Condition

Being able to perceive a client’s condition requires that your system is clear and balanced. The best way to set yourself up for clarity of perception during a treatment is to prepare ahead of time. It is optimal to be rested, clear, aligned and relaxed. Good quality sleep, food, self-development practices, and treatments for yourself are key factors. When you are in balance and full of vitality, your physical body is clear, your information system is giving accurate feedback, and you are in alignment with the higher vibrational aspects of your being. This enables the flow of accurate diagnosis regarding the person you are working with and how to best facilitate freedom in their system. 

In your everyday life it may not always be possible to be in optimal shape for every treatment. In that case, make sure to do at least a few minutes or even moments of relaxation, meditation, proprioceptive exercise or conscious breathing before beginning a session. Getting more aligned is a part of the treatment process; it is ok to sometimes do that at the beginning or even during a session. Otherwise you will be floundering around, kind of faking it and not really making headway in introducing more flow of life force.   



Receive Information, Don’t Look for Information

If you find yourself struggling to figure out what to do during a treatment and what level of diagnosis to focus on, the best thing to do is take a few deep, quiet breaths, relax a little more and go into listening mode. Often when a practitioner is struggling they begin to look harder for things to see/diagnosis/understand - they thrust their energy outward, searching for information. This is a natural response. However, it is more helpful at that moment to actually soften and go into a more listening and receptive mode. You want to receive information, not look for information. Let yourself relax in the unknowing for a little bit without freaking out that you don't know what to do and you have to find something. You can do something general while you are in this process, like palming down the back, a fascia release or gathering in the hara.

While you are relaxing into this listening mode, notice where your attention goes in the receiver's body. Let yourself receive what their body is communicating. There is no need to label what is 'wrong' and figure out everything that is not working well. There is only a need to listen, notice and respond in a way that enhances the flow of life force. Maybe you don’t know which meridians in the legs are kyo or jitsu but you do notice the legs look very still and empty. Do some stretches, apply pressure to stimulate chi, rock and press on the sacrum. Simple, basic techniques executed with sincere intention will have a therapeutic healing effect. If you can keep this in mind it will be easier to relax and offer touch that is truly supportive to a receiver's well-being. It may be that you naturally move into some more specialized methods of diagnosis & technique during a treatment, but this is not always the case, especially when you are doing shin tai work. 

A note of caution: Sometimes when a practitioner is struggling to find a direction during a treatment, they initiate conversation with the receiver. Sometimes this is a way to open a door to some helpful information and can lead the treatment into productive bodywork, but often it derails the session into an experience that will not initiate much change. Of course, every treatment does not need to be transformative to have value; some very powerful sessions are more integrative and soothing. But be aware of the tendency to engage in verbal dialogue when you are not sure what else to do. This serves to perpetuate the receiver's story rather than move beyond it, and prevents moving into deeper levels of experience that have inestimable value to both of you.


Bring more skill & depth to your bodywork practice with our online video courses. Study at your own pace whenever you want, wherever you are. Click on each course below for more info:

Hidden Effects of the Global Energy Matrix

"What is true.... is that we are all connected.... we are all wired now." Barack Obama

The Global Energy Matrix

We are living in a world where evolving communication networks create increasing global connection. These networks interface with our bodies, creating a convergence of technology and biology, and we are being influenced in new, often times insidious ways. Our body chemistry, moods and thinking are being affected and it is often having a negative impact on our health, happiness and spiritual well being.

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Digital communication systems and media are now at the core of planetary activity on all levels. These systems produce wireless frequencies that transmit everything from written information to detailed, high resolution images. These frequencies form a digital matrix streaming through the atmosphere and around the globe in real time. Wireless frequencies create a barrage of highly charged, friction producing waves that move from source to device, as well as device to device, while penetrating and circulating through our organic human organization. This includes our cells nervous system, circulatory system, glandular system, and meridian/chakra system.*

Images, headlines, key-phrases and product branding generate and populate all levels of the now social media lifeline that acts like a bloodstream within the mass global psyche. Humans whether in possession of devices or not are constantly receiving and conducting the subliminal energetic stream of events, opinions and projections through their own information system. It deeply affects chemical, emotional, psychological homeostasis, and produces numerous symptoms that may be a new classification of health maladies.

Bottom line: Our friction based, digital information system can be destructive to all organic life forms. In the case of humans, it deteriorates physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual stability.

 

The Biology-Technology Convergence

There are two main reasons why biology and technology are progressively interfacing and synthesizing. The first reason for this interface is that our nervous system has a digital information component that operates in similar fashion to digital technology. The second reason for the interface is that our bodies also have a non-physical or 'wireless' component that is developing rapidly and functions much like our wireless technologies. The fact that our biological systems have these similarities to our communications technologies creates a situation where the systems can interface and interact.

1. The Digital Component

The brain/nervous system has a digital information component. It absorbs and processes digital information and interacts with software programing. Once a program is learned and used regularly, the system departs from conscious thinking speed and starts to interact with the program at a subliminal computer speed.

Digital organization and eye-brain coordination: Image and program storage

Consider what is happening when we watch television. We are looking at a screen that projects a non-stop stream of changing images. In reality what we are seeing are millions of colored dots, rearranging themselves in milli- seconds. The eye (retina) receives the digital information and our brain interprets the images.

Video games have even more impact to our to the digital aspect of our system because of their interactive nature. Games are composed with layers of challenge and response that increase in difficulty as one goes deeper into the game program. Playing overtime, the mind/nervous system interface with the program and the player begins to react much faster than they would with deliberate thought. The player is now 'in' the program. If you close your eyes immediately after playing a video game you will continue to see the game characters moving through your mind field in full color showing that we have internalized the digital information and programming.

 

2. The Wireless Component

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The body-mind has a non-physical or wireless energy/information system which is becoming more sophisticated. This is a system that has long been identified in Chinese acupuncture and in Ayurvedic medicine. It circulates within the physical body and extends up to five feet beyond the skin border.

The human wireless apparatus** is responsible for how we interact with nature, animals and other humans on instinctive, emotional and mental planes. It can be penetrated by, or even align with (entrainment***) various digital frequencies such as those broadcast from cell towers, digital media, and wireless devices. Our wireless apparatus picks up the information transmitted by these systems on an unconscious or subconscious level, as we are now swimming in a sea of high frequency digital energy.

The influence of interaction between digital wireless technology and the the human wireless system is determined by the quality of the information and images being transmitted and received. Although there is some positive uplifting content in the 'global feed,' the majority of the information circulating in the ever increasing volume of wireless systems is overwhelmingly negative and energy draining. Our human systems are being bombarded with a constant flow of violent distorted images, and anger, fear based dialogue that manipulates, conditions, and even alters thoughts and perception. This flow unconsciously influences how many of our perceptions, opinions and ideas are formed and then expressed, not only externally, but also within our internal mind chatter dialogue.

 

Direct Telepathic Vision

Another important layer in the information exchange is the direct exchange of frequencies from one human to another, from community to community and from group to group. This has been called the global brain; it refers to the interchange of telepathic, psychic and emotional energy throughout various strata of the planet. It is sometimes simply called osmosis. Of course, this exchange existed long before digital and wireless technology, but since these biological/bio-plasmic** counterparts to technology have also been developing, they are now playing a greater role in our evolving human experience. Therefore, these influences should also be noticed in terms of how they effect day-to-day life.

Most people reading this article live in one of the fortunate regions of the planet where life is good. We enjoy food, shelter, opportunity and a sense of purpose. But if we stop and assess the overall global condition and the degree of war, tension, displacement, grief of loss, etc. that is occurring every moment, we realize that there is a tremendous volume of heavy negative vibration entering both the natural and technological information grid. As we go along in our daily routines, not often noticing the intense level of strife existing in a high percentage of the globe, we are still receiving the emotional and psychological information of pain and suffering through our bio-plasmic wireless apparatus. We are being impacted and we are reacting even though much of the input doesn’t register consciously.

 

Development of the Outerbody System

The human wireless system can also be referred to as the outerbody.** The outerbody is an evolving system that functions as an extension and upgrade to our physical systems, particularly the nervous system. It also functions as a semi-permeable, selective membrane. 

The outerbody is currently in a logarithmic growth spurt. On one hand, this brings a new capacity and vision into our human environment. On the other hand, it causes a heightened sensitivity to the more coarse qualities of the physical world such as pollution, synthetics. emotional upset, and psychological stress. The  sophistication of the outerbody system is catalyzed by awakening consciousness along with any activity that stimulates greater awareness: healing work, yoga, meditation, positive thinking, therapy, etc. Since the development of the outerbody system is part of our natural human evolution, even people that are not directly developing awareness through specific practices are subject to the various effects of these changes.

  • To learn more about how to feel and manage your outerbody, click on the following link to download a free 30 minute guided audio: Outerbody Expansion.

 

The Effects of the Energy Matrix

Are there ever days when you wake feeling anger, fear, anxiety, and weakness? Are there times during the day when ill feelings seem to just sneak up on you? Do you wake up in the night with ominous fears, violent impulses and dark thoughts? If you do, take a moment to evaluate these states; you might notice that often times it is not coming from your immediate life circumstance. You might notice that your life is actually fine - generally prosperous, generally happy, generally healthy - with just the usual challenges that don’t match the magnitude of the negativity you are feeling, especially when compared to what others around the world are experiencing. You might notice that the composite of your life system is good and relatively balanced and seemingly not related to the negativity you are feeling.

 When this is happening it can be useful to consider that it is a product of the involuntary intake of your wireless bio-plasmic system. What is streaming into your system may be having a very powerful effect on your emotions, mind and body. You might also begin to notice when this dynamic is affecting others around you including partners, family, friends and clients.  Digital/wireless intake, and what we then subconsciously broadcast as a result of it, can be affecting our health, relationships and productivity.

 

Transform the Narrative & Images

Noticing is the first step of change

  1. Be mindful of your internal dialogue in the general flow of your daily life. Noticing when you have internal friction and aggression toward others. Notice when you are having negative dis-empowering reactions toward people that you encounter in the day-to-day life flow, like while driving, shopping or talking on the phone.

  2. Notice when teachers, speakers, media, etc. are generating fear, anger, antagonism and/or divisiveness through what appears to be routine reporting, writing, dialogue, teaching and presentations. Notice the choice of language and when they are using words that exaggerate or exacerbate the negativity.

  3. Media Fast: Take a day, 3 days, a week or even more and turn off all media devices and input. This will create a similar effect to food fasting where afterwards you are more sensitive to quality, subtleties of food you eat. After staying away from media for a period of time you will notice how much you are being affected by listening and watching. You will also notice the rough and aggressive quality of much of the information.

  4. Consider that whatever and whomever you don’t like or agree with represent a quality you have within yourself that you are projecting onto your external landscape. This is the 'Buddha nature.' You can only see in others what exists within yourself. Also, if you believe that we are all connected within a unified consciousness ('we are all one'), then what or who we don’t like must be part of ourselves. Therefore if we don’t like a tyrant, politician, a social group, a co-worker, etc. it can be useful to consider that those people are ‘acting out' a very difficult aspect of the mass consciousness of which we are a part.

Our opposition actually magnifies that to which we are opposed. Whatever we are against we eventually become. We cannot change others but we can notice what we don’t like and seek to change those qualities within ourselves. When we show compassion for even the most diabolical person or idea, we are also showing compassion to ourselves.

 

Reverse the flow

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The human information system is composed of wired and wireless components. We receive information, process it, and also broadcast through our bio-plasmic outerbody system. We can therefore create substantive high dpi digital content and broadcast it to multiple layers of our environment, including instinctive, emotional and mental planes. Over time, especially with the evolution of adaptive artificial intelligence, we will be able to input positive, empowering information back into the grid and influence the entire social and media content.

How to get started:

  1. Be aware when you are getting drawn into the fear, anger, energy draining media/social blackhole. Be detached from positions and beliefs that create the negative blackhole and its gravity

  2. Inputing back into the grid: Internally create higher frequency dialogue and full color high dpi images that reflect the reality you want to create. Realize you can broadcast these images and information using the telepathic broadcasting component of the awakened outerbody system. For more information on this topic, please click on the link to the following article: Bio-Hologenic Event Images.

  • For a guided audio on developing the ability to broadcast telepathically, please click on the following link: Telepathy I.

 

Strengthen Your Membranes

The outerbody functions as a semi-permeable, selective membrane. This rapidly developing part of our physiology can be regulated through consciousness, and it is helpful to learn new perceptual skills in order to do that. This is especially important for people who are participating in various self-development and health practices, as these usually create a more expanded outerbody system. It is also particularly important for people who tend to be 'sensitive' or 'thin-skinned' to become more aware of their outerbody - they most likely do literally have a more porous outerbody and can be more influenced by outside energies. Until we learn how to feel and purposefully manage the permeability of the outerbody, we are subject to the onslaught of negative vibrational content and its subsequent effects.


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  • To learn more about how to feel and manage your outerbody, click on the following link to download a free 30 minute guided audio: Outerbody Expansion.

  • For a more in-depth audio on activating and regulating the outerbody membrane, go to: Extraordinary Senses I


* The meridian/chakra system is a long recognized and therapeutically used energetic network. They refer to well defined energy pathways that circulate through the physical body and extend beyond the physical body. They are part of the bioplasmic/outerbody system.

** Defi nition of terms: In this article the following terms are interchangable: wireless apparatus, outerbody, bioplasmic body. All of these refer to the same energetic manifes tation of our human system. The different terms are used to emphasize certain characteristics.

*** Definition of entrainment in Merriam-Webster dictionary - 1 : to draw along with or after oneself. 

For more information on the effects that wireless and digital technology are having on us, here is a list of articles:


Springtime Chi for Practitioners

Remember that the quality, results, and success of a bodywork practice is a reflection of our chi, not our advertising.

Spring Chi

Spring is generated by rising energy. It is chi that moves upward and outward, transforming from it’s internal recessive winter state.

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In nature, it is energy moving up from the roots to the branches of the trees; it moves from deep in the ground up and out into the atmosphere. It is felt on that first day near the end of winter, when we feel the cold bareness break and the smell of spring is in the air. In the human body, we feel chi move from a protective inwardness to an outward relaxed feeling - a letting go. Emotionally and mentally, we move from reflective to creative.

For many, chi can get stuck in the winter state. This creates energy deficiency, anger and frustration, as the energy is unable to change to the upward and outward direction of awakening spring chi.Recognizing the effects of this blocked or sluggish transition of the seasonal energies can be an important diagnosis with our clients and ourselves. Discomforts and complaints (whatever the symptoms are called) may be a direct result of inefficient seasonal transition.


What Makes a Practice Thrive

Remember that the quality, results, and success of a bodywork practice is a reflection of our chi, not our advertising. Clients come to spend time in the energy matrix that we create and nurture. Treatment skills are only a vehicle for transporting an atmosphere of wellbeing to the client’s system. 

 
Music transports the listener into the mental state of the composer.
— Beethoven
 

As practitioners, working with our own chi is the most effective way to expand our practice. This is not only in terms of numbers of treatments, but also the dimension of positive effects. When the practitioner develops his or her chi flow, it creates a more dynamic experience for the client and practitioner. Below are some practices that you can use to nourish your chi, particularly for this time of year in the northern temperate hemisphere. 


Some Exercises to Support Winter - Spring Chi

  • Walking on grass barefoot in the morning:

This practice transports upward rising morning/spring energy from the earth through the body. Chi is conducted via the morning dew and enters the KI #1 vortex for distribution though the system. It particularly opens the liver and gallbladder, which are the organ manifestations and core of spring energy.

 
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  • Breathing Exercise: 
  1. Begin in standing position.
  2. Breathe in deeply while stepping forward, and simultaneously raising your arms with palms up.
  3. Step back to the starting position while breathing out.
  4. Repeat a,b,c while stepping forward and back with the other foot.
  5. Repeat a,b,c,d 10- 12 times
  • Daily Skin Brush:
  1. Brush the entire skin surface with a brush, loofa or towel.
  2. For a more penetrating effect dip the brush in hot ginger water.
  3. Repeat one or two times daily. 

This practice helps to bring energy to the surface of the body. It opens the the pores and improves breathing. It helps the body clean out and discharge  deep inner stagnation.

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  • Integrating Nature Music:
  1. Go to a place where you can hear birds singing.
  2. Expand the layers of the outerbody membranes.*
  3. In this expanded state listen to sound and melodies of the bird songs. Notice the sensation of the s ound frequencies vibrating through your system.

This practice has numerous transformative effects and is also very entertaining. Interacting with the vibration of the bird song energy creates an uplifting flow of natural chi and initiates movement, positive emotion, and mental clarity.

* Please click on the following link for a free 30-minute guided audio to learn how to expand your outerbody:  Energy Body Expansion


Earth and Solar Influences

There are yearly cycles of energy expression that are similar to seasonal changes. This dynamic is expressed in the astrology system of 9 Star Ki. On this larger level of influence, we are moving from a water year to a fire year. This again is a shift from water energy and its characteristics to the most outward moving and active energy of fire.

We are presently moving from a water (1) year into a fire (9) year

We are presently moving from a water (1) year into a fire (9) year

We are presently moving from a water (1) year into a fire (9) year

Some Element Characteristics

Winter/Water - internal, reflective

Spring-Wood - outward, creative

Summer/Fire - active, social

Late Summer/Soil - gather, convergence

Autumn/Metal: retraction, shedding 

In other words, not only are we moving from water to wood energy due to the seasonal change, we are also moving from water to fire in terms of the yearly 9 Star Ki change. This could compound the tendency for people to get stuck in the demands of seasonal change. Therefore, the need for identifying and addressing the water energy shift can be even more important this year in order to maintain well being and balance with our environment.


Bring more skill & depth to your bodywork practice with our online video courses. Study at your own pace whenever you want, wherever you are. Click on each course below for more info:

The Mystery of the Governing & Conception Vessel

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The Mystery of Governing & Conception Vessel

In many ways, the governing and conception vessel meridians are a mystery in shiatsu. There is no diagnostic correspondence for them in the pulse, the hara or the face. There is traditionally no specific technique for treating and balancing the governing or conception vessels' chi.

In his book Meridian Exercise, Shizuto Masunaga says that the governing and conception vessel (GV/CV) stand above the other meridians in terms of importance. He states that they regulate the 12 classic meridians along with regulating the basic life functions. Herein lies the mystery: if governing and conception vessel are so important, why is there no diagnosis or specific treatment for them?

To help solve what seems to be a huge contradiction in the teaching and practice of shiatsu, we can look at two different dimensions of these master meridians. The first dimension is how they express themselves at the primitive or cellular level of life. The second dimension is how they evolve into a specialized system of energy in the complex human organism. Then we can synthesize these perceptions to create a comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment.

Shin Tai is an evolving form of shiatsu that makes diagnosis and treatment of governing & conception vessel a priority.

 

The Primitive Dimension of GV/CV

At the primitive cellular level, motion is the equivalent to meridian. Motion supplies life force or chi to carry out the basic life functions of the cell. Motion is also the same as primitive governing and conception vessel. In other words, the most primitive dimension of GV/CV is motion.

MOTION = BASIC LIFE FUNCTION = GV/CV

 

 

The Specialized Dimension of GV/CV

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As the fetus develops, recreating biological evolution, the governing and conception vessels develop into more linear pathways (meridians). The governing vessel then flowers into the spinal column and its inner components (the meninges, the cerebral spinal fluid and the central nervous system). The conception vessel flowers into the digestive system and its core, the hara.

These two master meridians also diversify into the 12 classic meridians of acupuncture, each with a specific energetic pathway and function.

 

 

Synthesizing the Two Dimensions

Solving the mystery of governing and conception vessel diagnosis comes from the perception and synthesis of the primitive and specialized way that they express themselves in the human being. Subtle motions, which can be seen throughout the body in response to breathing, indicate how well the primitive dimension of GV/CV is circulating throughout the system. Three phases of specific motions and their significance in the healing process is a key aspect of the shiatsu shin tai training. 

Evaluating the specialized dimension of GV/CV requires a more specialized focus. For governing vessel, the flexibility of the spine and the independent springing motion of the vertebrae show the condition of its more specialized aspect. For conception vessel, the homogenous and resilient quality of the hara shows its specialized dimension.

A shiatsu practitioner can help regenerate the most essential flow of chi in the body. By developing the perception of subtle motions and learning specific technique which addresses the uniqueness of the governing and conception vessels, a practitioner can restore the power of primitive life force in the system and assist the client back to a higher experience of life. Shin Tai is an evolving form of shiatsu that makes diagnosis and treatment of governing & conception vessel a priority.


Shiatsu Shin Tai expands on traditional Shiatsu massage to create an evolutionary system of diagnosis and technique that stimulates the flow of life force in the body. There is a focus on the treatment of the two primary meridians, Governing Vessel and Conception Vessel, creating a powerful system of diagnosis, theory and technique that facilitates deep transformation. A unique synthesis of structural, fascia, meridian, and chakra technique, this therapeutic bodywork clears stress from the body, and naturally stimulates the flow of energy.  

Upcoming Shin Tai Classes:


Bring more skill & depth to your bodywork practice with our online video courses. Study at your own pace whenever you want, wherever you are. Click on each course below for more info:

Hara Treatment & Shiatsu

While traveling throughout the US and Europe teaching shiatsu for many years, I began to notice the diminishing role of hara in the development of mainstream shiatsu education. I was surprised at the lack of vitality of the hara when watching students work. They were often not working from their own hara, and they were treating without penetrating application. There was also scant emphasis on personal training for hara health. In Zen Shiatsu, a branch of shiatsu created by Shizuto Masunaga, the hara became almost exclusively used for a very light touch diagnosis of other systems of the body. 

It seemed like students were not integrating what they did learn about hara treatment. Some were afraid to touch the hara and I often saw little change in receivers’ ki (energy) as a result of hara treatment. Some receivers did not want to have their hara touched at all during treatment. Hara is one of the most important aspects of healing in bodywork. Working with it promotes transformation into a state of well being, centeredness and a perspective that brings things in life into balance. Without a thorough knowledge and training in hara treatment, students were missing out on a powerful opportunity for themselves and their clients.

When I began studying shiatsu with the Japanese teachers, like Shizuto Masunaga, Michio Kushi, and Ohashi, they all emphasized that treatment revolves around the hara. They talked about how life comes from and is a reflection of the hara. Shiatsu training not only included hara technique as a central element, it also strongly focused on the development of the practitioners own hara. The education included dietary awareness, strong physical exercise and philosophy that awakened the multi-dimensional meaning of hara. It was as much a spiritual training as it was a technical vocational training.  

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Many of the Asian teachers that first presented shiatsu to the west gave very strong and vigorous treatments that were directed by a whole body view with organ, meridian and tsubo considerations in a supportive role. The goal of these treatments was to restore balance and fluidity to the ki flow and to encourage the the body/mind/spirit to discharge toxic qualities of a physical, emotional and vibrational nature. This kind of treatment came to be considered too provocative for the western appetite. Gradually this approach was westernized, modified, and distilled to meet the needs of the clients’ capacity for challenge and change.

Over time the role of hara was diminished, both in treatment application and practitioner education. People began limiting the use of hara to kyo/jitsu diagnosis. Shiatsu education became more conceptual and intellectual. It started to emphasize the development of acupuncture theory instead of developing and evolving the the most important quality of the practice - the manual, physical aspect: touch and pressure. This trend has almost overshadowed what was of utmost importance in early shiatsu and it’s origins: awakening the hara in the practice, in the condition of the practitioner, and in the life flow of the healing arts community.

Hara is a microcosm of the whole environment: our local landscape, the air we breathe, the water we drink. We can also see the hara as a microcosm of the larger physical and spiritual universe. By spiritual I am referring to the world of vibration, not beliefs or religion. In the taoist practice of chi kung, the hara is open to exchange with all the physical and vibrational forces of nature - air, ocean, geographical landscapes, mountains, trees, environmental entities.

Environments themselves have a frequency range and ‘personality.’ Often particularly powerful centers are areas where civilizations develop and grow. Cities, towns and countries flourish where there is a strong flow of ki. It is interesting to walk in a major city and feel the vibrational vortex circulating through all of the buildings, people and activities. Why does a city develop in one place and not another? There are particular characteristics that create access, movement, and resources to feed the creation of that place. There are other areas where civilizations tried to develop, but they withered and stagnated because they lacked the right energetic flow. 

 
Treating the hara is one of the most potent tools to improve a person's condition.

Treating the hara is one of the most potent tools to improve a person's condition.

 

When we touch someones hara, we can feel their personal history and their environment coming through, depending on our experience. A person’s whole story is in their hara. Working with it gives us one of the best opportunities to listen to and understand who they are. It can transform the health of their organs, emotions and life system. Treating the hara is one of the most potent tools we have as practitioners to improve a person's condition and assist them in the initiation of changes that will lead to engaging in present time with vibrant awareness and health. 

We welcome your comments & questions below. 


For more information about our online video courses in hara treatment, please click on the button below:


The True Nature of Shiatsu

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.

acupuncture
Instead of working in a specialized manner to adjust the function of the meridians and organs and systems of the body, shiatsu 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. 

shiatsu healing

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.

We welcome your comments & questions below.


Bring more skill & depth to your bodywork practice with our online video courses. Study at your own pace whenever you want, wherever you are. Click on each course below for more info:

The Bioplasmic Body & Proprioceptive Exercise

During a recent 'Governing Vessel & the Spine' course, we livestreamed a portion of a talk on the bioplasmic body and proprioceptive exercise. Because it was live, the video is informal and the sound quality is not great, but please enjoy the content. Make sure to turn up the volume on your device/computer as well as the video.

This material is integral to developing the sensitivity to do Shiatsu Shin Tai bodywork.

 
 

We welcome your comments and questions below.

Tips for Strengthening Your Digestive System: Part II

Learn more techniques to strengthen your digestive system. These are things that you can do for yourself  to increase health, balance and clarity. If you missed Part I of this series, it is below this video.

This was a livestream session, so is relatively informal. Enjoy!

 

 
 
 

To watch Part I, please click on the video below:

 
 
 
 

 

For more information about our online video course 'Hara: Treatment for the Digestive & Circulatory Systems', please click on the button below:

 

Facial Diagnosis - an introduction

Facial diagnosis is an important tool for a shiatsu practitioner. Learning how to read the face to diagnosis the condition of the organs can give valuable information about how to craft a client's treatment. This video is a short introduction to this healing art. It is part of an online shiatsu course called 'Hara: Treatment of the Digestive & Circulatory Systems.' For info & enrollment, please click on the button beneath the video.

 

 
 

This video is part of an online course called 'Hara: Treatment of the Digestive & Circulatory Systems.' For info & enrollment, please click on the link below:

Treatment of the Ileocecal Valve

The Ileocecal valve lies at the juncture of the small and large intestines. This valve often gets stuck open, disrupting movement of waste material into the large intestine. This technique helps to strengthen this area of the body and restore its proper function. 

This video is part of the online course called "Hara: Treatment of the Digestive & Circulatory Systems." For info & enrollment please go to the link:
Hara: Treatment of the Digestive & Circulatory Systems.

Many people today have digestive challenges, including constipation, bloating, gas, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, colitis, leaky gut, Crohn's or Celiac Disease, diabetes, gall stones, or cancer somewhere in the digestive tract. The techniques that you will learn in this course are powerful tools to address these ailments and assist clients in recovering digestive strength and balance. Some of them are original to this work, while others have a long tradition of use.
 

 
 
 

This video is part of the online course called "Hara: Treatment of the Digestive & Circulatory Systems." For info & enrollment please click on the button below:

 

The Digestive System and Conception Vessel

This video is an introduction to the online course 'Hara: Treatment of the Digestive & Circulatory Systems.'

Bodyworkers who can work skillfully with the digestive system offer tremendous benefits to their clients. Hara treatment is one of the most powerful ways to strengthen this area. To better understand the digestive system and its relationship to the Conception Vessel meridian, please click on the link below to watch a short video.

Working with the digestive system in a specific, therapeutic way improves digestion, strength and clarity and gives the receiver ability to develop a better blood quality. In the online video course called 'Hara: Treatment of the Digestive & Circulatory Systems' we give instruction in treating not only the organs, but the energetic factors which contribute to poor function of this area of the body. The series of techniques presented can be used as a complete protocol, or separately whenever they will be effective.

Many people today have digestive challenges, including obesity, constipation, bloating, gas, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, colitis, leaky gut, Crohn's or Celiac Disease, diabetes, gall stones, or cancer somewhere in the digestive tract. This course provides powerful, unique tools to assist them. Some of the techniques are original to this work, while others have a long tradition of use. Being able to offer a treatment like this provides tremendous benefits to clients who often do not have access to anything other than diet and/or medications to assist them in recovering digestive strength. 

 
 

 

For more info on the online course 'Hara: Treatment of the Digestive & Circulatory Systems' click the button below:

 

We welcome your comments & questions below.

Hara: the path to manifestation

Vision of Life = Life?

We all have ideas, dreams and projects. We have visions of how we want our life to be. However, there is usually a disconnect between how our reality is actually playing out in real time and what our inner visions look like. Maybe there is that rare person whose total image of how they want their life to be matches their actual circumstances, but most people experience some degree of gap between their vision and their current life scheme. For many clients this is in the mix of reasons as to why they come for treatments. 

They might say ‘I have back pain’, ‘my digestion is not good’, or ‘I’m depressed.’ But as you get to know them a little better, you discover that the inability to create the experience that they desire is a strong force behind what is going on in their life that is making them unhappy. Many of the things that are bothering them physically or emotionally are actually symptoms of this disconnect. There is festering frustration and discontent with the difference between what they envision for their life and what they actually experience, and how that feels day in and day out.

 
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In other words, what they dream is not what they experience. Not the dream while sleeping, but the inner semi-conscious dream we have while we are awake. If there is an extreme disconnect, the inner dream becomes fantasy. The closer the dream comes to what is actually happening in the daily life, the less a person fantasizes, and the more engaged and creative the person becomes with what they are doing.

 

Hara is the translator

The hara plays a large role in translating ideas, images, and dreams into physical reality. There are several aspects of hara that contribute to this activity of manifestation. First of all, it is the physical seat of our digestive system, which converts food into usable fuel for our body to function and act in the world. The hara transforms food into energy so that we can act, so that we can carry out our visions on the physical plane. It also holds the reproductive organs, which function to spark and create new life.

Another factor in the hara’s function to translate dreams into reality it that it is the energetic center and physical component of the Conception Vessel meridian, an electromagnetic current which runs up the front of the body. The word conception is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as:

  1. ‘The process of becoming pregnant involving fertilization or implantation or both’ or 
  2. ‘The capacity, function, or process of forming or understanding ideas or abstractions or their symbols.’ 

When the Conception Vessel meridian is flowing with strength and balance, it gives the capacity for visions to begin forming into third dimensional reality through a process of fertilization. Ideas become pregnant. They enter the phase of developing into a fully matured form. The Hara is the most direct way to diagnose and treat the Conception Vessel and effect this capacity.

 

A third factor that contributes to the hara’s role in manifestation is related to the hip structure. I consider the hip structure as the boney aspect of the hara, and the hip joints as the mechanism that set the hara into motion. The hara and its motion are a large factor in moving our intentions into the life sphere and so play a role in determining what unfolds there. 

When we work with clients and treat the hara, it becomes more clear, strong and balanced. The organs begin to function better. Circulation and oxygenation of tissues is increased. The flow of the Conception Vessel meridian improves, and the hip structure gains mobility and alignment. The hara can better do its job to manifest images and intentions into the physical plane, and so people's visions about their life and their actual life itself begin to have a more direct correlation. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Shiatsu Wrist Adjustment

Increase mobility & alignment in the wrist articulations.

This is a great technique for creating more alignment and mobility in the wrist articulations. There are 8 carpal bones in the wrist that lie between the radius and ulna and the metacarpals of the fingers. Many people experience stiffness and pain in this area of their body due to repetitive use or postural habits. 

The wrists also reflect the condition of the pelvic/hip region of the body and can indicate issues in the reproductive organs or lower bowels. This adjustment can stimulate more balance and chi flow to these related areas.

Please Note: It is NOT appropriate to use this technique on clients who are experiencing acute pain and inflammation in their wrists, or who feel pain upon the initial gentle rocking into the carpal area. 


We welcome your questions & comments below.

 

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Treatments & Advice, Part II

Learning how to navigate through the verbal parts of a bodywork treatment takes skill, experience and constant flexibility and many practitioners find it challenging at times. We received many emails in response to our January article 'To Talk or Not to Talk: Treatments & Advice.' Below we share one of them (along with a response), because it held many questions that were asked multiple times.

Every time a practitioner has a treatment, they are going to need to speak with the receiver. First, there is the greeting and a usually brief discussion of the client's situation. During the treatment pertinent information, questions or suggestions may surface. Afterwards the receiver often has questions and it may be beneficial to give some advice. However, sometimes discussion during a session begins to dominate and it can feel like getting caught in a web. You as a practitioner might struggle to know how much to respond and what to say, and loose energy managing the process instead of focusing on the treatment.

Of course, it is important to listen to our clients and offer useful information and advice when we have it. That is very healing in itself! But if you find yourself tired or confused regarding how much to interact with your clients at this level, it is a good idea to do some work in this area. Even very experienced practitioners need to sometimes work on the balance of touch and talk and do not always get it 'right.'

 

Learning how to navigate through the verbal parts of a treatment takes skill, experience and constant flexibility.

 

A Practitioner's Questions

Here is an email about this topic from a shiatsu shin tai practitioner in England:

"Recently I was treating a lady that was suffering from depression, and she found the treatments very helpful. She said that she was feeling a deep happiness and a quiet mind that she had never before experienced. In these treatments she would often talk with me about her personal experiences with depression and the life factors surrounding it. 

Feeling inspired after reading your article 'To Talk or Not to Talk,' I decided to try something different when she came for her next session. Before starting the treatment, I suggested to her that in order to overcome the depression it would be better that we not discuss it and instead focus on the treatment itself. Afterwards, she wrote me to say that I had been unkind with her. She said that she needed kindness, understanding and an empathic response. She did not want condemnation when she was already suffering. I realized I had been doing a kind of counseling with her and did not want to go further in this direction. She decided to stop the treatments. 

I know that the main part of a treatment is done by our hands, but how should I proceed if a client wants to discuss things extensively over and over. Then afterwards they often ask what I found, and ask what to do to improve their health. Sometimes I do  not find it easy to express myself about what I noticed during a treatment. For instance, recently I found a lady's belly very bloated, and she asked me what I had found. I tried to explain that the energy was stagnated and that it might be some old things going on in there. Then she asked me 'What can I do?' I gave some vague dietary advice. After saying that, I started to question myself." 

 

Limiting Discussion

It is normal that sometimes a client will not like being told to limit discussion during sessions. You are serving your clients to risk this, and saving yourself the loss of energy that occurs when we enable them to stay in their story. It is important however, to broach the topic with sensitivity and compassion! It can be very helpful to present your request in a positive light, such as "It is important that I not speak too much during a treatment so that I can focus on listening to your body" instead of "Don't talk during a treatment because you are just perpetuating your story." Read about and practice how to set non-negative boundaries if this is a challenging thing for you. You are serving everyone involved to keep the focus more on the bodywork, instead of the talking.

 
Shiatsu Treatment - Spleen Pump
 

Feedback After a Treatment

If it does not come easy to share with someone what happened during a treatment, you do not have to. You can remind them to pay attention to sensations in their body over the next few days and explain that is the best way to proceed after a treatment. It takes discipline to educate a client in this way. You teach them over time that you are not there to give extensive verbal diagnosis, therapy and advice, although you may very well do this to an extent sometimes. You are there to facilitate more freedom in their body so that their innate wisdom is flowing more and can guide them more clearly. Again, this takes practice and ongoing development on your part to find what works best for you. It is important to balance the expectations and needs of the client with your boundaries.

 

Sharing Advice

Regarding advice & lifestyle tips: share only advice that you are confident about with a client. If you do not know much about food and diet, do not give guidance in this area. If you have extensive experience with exercise or meditation, you may have some tips that would be helpful. Collect a list of resources for nutrition, exercise, therapy, etc. that you can refer your clients to in the areas that you lack skills/background to provide guidance.

Another tip regarding advice: it is usually better to give less information rather than more. Offer them small, doable suggestions that they can be digested with ease. If they resist or start into a story about why they did that already or why it didn't work, let it go. They are not able to take it in. Let the treatment itself do the work and have faith they will be able to take care of themselves better as their system becomes more clear.

If you get too caught up in long explanations and extensive suggestions, you may find yourself in a complex maze of dialogue that is not feeling particularly effective. Counselors and therapists train for years how to assist others through verbal means, because it takes lots of training and practice to do it effectively. You have probably trained for years to use touch to assist others, so that will most likely be your most potent tool.

Remember that the treatment itself is clearing the body of restrictive forces and reestablishing the flow of life force, which in turn increases the ability to access the most accurate guidance. Remind yourself and your clients of this when necessary. Often clients are in such physical and emotional need that a practitioner feels compelled to help them with many aspects that could be contributing to their suffering. But it is not your job to solve all your clients' problems and figure out intellectually why this or that is happening. It is your job to give the treatment and empower them with a more clear and aligned body. Our primary training as bodyworkers is to use touch to facilitate freedom and power in someone's body. This has unique potential that other methods do not have; it can be wonderful to trust that and watch it unfold.

It's like the adage 'give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.' Giving someone bodywork is like teaching them to fish instead of giving them a fish. We clear restriction, misalignment and jumbled up information in a very practical way so that a person can function better. A shiatsu shin tai treatment naturally gives someone more freedom and power to access their true, unfettered self. Then they can perceive, listen and respond to their innermost wisdom and have the will to make the changes that will be beneficial to them. 

 

A shiatsu shin tai treatment gives someone more freedom and power to access their true, unfettered self.

 


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Intention - a synthesis of instinct, intellect & intuition

The Topic of Intention

The topic of intention is a necessary one to address in any bodywork training. It is important to understand what it is so that we can give treatments with clarity and direction while also listening to the needs of each receiver. Reflecting on the role of intention can also greatly increase the effectiveness and power of our treatments, as well as increasing the effectiveness and power of all of our life activities!

We thought it would be valuable to share with you a recent inquiry about intention from a shiatsu/shin tai practitioner in the UK, and the subsequent response:

 

Why do I need intention when giving treatments?

"Lately I am struggling with the concept of intention, and I am not sure whether I am not understanding it. Why do we need to intend anything while giving treatments? I myself am not sure that I want someone else's intention in my system, particularly if they don't have clear systems themselves (and who does have a completely clear system?).

My thoughts are that when we "intend" we are using the intellect/mind to intend and this can "pull" us out of connecting with our own body. When I "intend" it feels that I am in my upper body instead of working from my hara i.e. lower body. My thoughts are then when working completely from the hara (which contains the whole), I don't need intention because my whole body is working with someone else's body. Then I am responding to what's in front of me without any "intention" at all.  

I would really appreciate your thoughts about this as I have struggled with this concept for some time. The struggle is also about the role of intention in my life. In other words, if I don't "intend", I am forced back into the flow of life and my authenticity around that. But that's conditional upon being fully in my body/hara, because with that sensation comes the quieting of the mind and any intention."

 

Intention is a Synthesis

Intention is a synthesis of 3 things:

  1. Instinct (which is related to hara)
  2. Intellect
  3. Intuition (which is related to the third eye)
 
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Intention is meant to be applied as a synthesis of these three dimensions. The thought (intellectual or mental) dimension does not necessarily play a dominant role. The influence in the moment can sometimes come more from one dimension than the others depending on the situation: there can be a momentary instinctive understanding, there can be an intuitive message or there can be an intellectual awareness. In that case the dominant aspect is also synthesized with the others to create a full spectrum of information. 

Intention really means how you want to direct ki. As an example, with kyo and jitsu, the same technique can be used for either condition. There is a brief awareness & synthesis of information that creates the intention in how your ki is directed and how it will influence the treatment.  


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If you have an experience or question about the use of intention during treatments, we welcome you to share it below. You can also share this article by clicking on the red social media buttons -

To Talk or Not to Talk: Treatments & Advice

To talk or not to talk, that is the question -

This article began as a response to an email from a shiatsu shin tai practitioner. She was experiencing complicated responses to treatments herself, as well as in people who were receiving bodywork from her. A main question she had was regarding the role of a practitioner in providing advice to clients about lifestyle choices (diet, exercise, therapy, etc.). She also had concerns over the fact that most receivers did not have the will or ability to address changes that they needed to make to improve their health. 

These are issues that are important for all of us as bodyworkers to address. We realize quickly after beginning to work with people that there is more to giving treatments than the hands-on work, although that is primary. From the initial hello and discussion, getting a receiver on the futon/table, leading them into the treatment itself, and getting them up and on their way afterwards, it can be a bit of a juggling act to keep the session focused on the hands-on work. People coming for treatment are often in dire need of compassion and assistance, and it is our job to make sure our hands do most of the work rather than our mouths!

 


Below are sections from the email (italicized in quotes) along with my responses (not in quotes) -

"In my experience, it is a real minority of people who are willing to put the immense time and effort that is needed into self healing. A lot of this is cultural conditioning that other people can cure or heal you, without the 'patient' having to do anything. People are very reluctant to address diets, other than maybe a basic alteration. We are so disconnected from our food and bodies, that it has become imperceivable that food and emotions are underlying the majority, if not all of the discomfort in our bodies and minds."

Shin Tai (an evolving form of shiatsu) focuses on clearing the primary information system of the body (the governing vessel & conception vessel meridians). This is done through working on many layers of the body: bones, muscles, organs, meridians, chakras, outerbody....  The practitioner learns to read which layer is the priority and works accordingly. Working directly with the body is considered the practitioner's main job. They are trained to clear restrictions and create more alignment & vitality. This helps to reestablish the receiver's will to take care of themselves.

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When the body is more clear and 'online', the receiver then has access to more accurate information as to what will be best for them at that time. This might be in regards to diet, exercise, relationships, environment, job, etc. Their own body has the most wisdom regarding life choices and direction. Practitioners are instructed to give some pointers and references, but mainly to trust in the process of the treatment itself to empower the receiver's body to direct their life. Therein will be the most accurate, real-time information to best serve the receiver.  

 

"I spent years in therapy, believing that if I fixed the emotions (childhood sexual abuse), then everything would be ok. But that didn't work. Then I moved to bodywork, thinking that would solve everything. But that didn't work either. Then the spiritual life took precedence as a solution. But no, that didn't solve everything either! Now it's on to dietary needs!!"

The fact that you are finding your way along different avenues that support your healing and development is in part due to the therapy, bodywork and spiritual work that you did. It is normal that the priority of what to address can change over time. For example, sometimes diet will be most important, and then it can shift to bodywork. Often, we as receivers do not recognize changes that are occurring because we are so attached to them showing up in a certain form.

That being said, shiatsu/shin tai practitioners are trained to give some instruction on diet, exercise and other self-development practices. Practitioners are also trained to know when and how to give information that could be helpful to a client. Of course these skills require years of practice and development, and every practitioner has different capabilities and strengths that they can offer their clients.

But always the main role is to do the bodywork. Not talk too much, nor get into the client's story or issues through words too much. If it seems like therapy or a nutritionist or a trainer could be helpful, the practitioner may give references. But we let the touch do our main work. That will empower the client to learn to listen to their own inner guidance, their own blueprint. Nothing could be more accurate than that. Getting caught up in discussions and advice about diet, etc. often do not penetrate and create shifts in the client. But working beneath the words, beneath the typical advice - that's where shin tai can offer a unique opportunity to empower transformation! It is not personal and can save the practitioner a lot of energy.  

"I feel we are doing clients a disservice by not mentioning lifestyle. When people seek treatments, they often have no real idea of what is involved or the depth of what they are entering into. They just want to be 'fixed'. Personal responsibility is not something many people want to hear about. I have a 9 year old who feels and sees the effects junk and certain foods have on his system, as he holds a cramping stomach or has to stop playing football while he has another coughing fit. But then he sees others eating those foods and not having any visible negative effects. He won't do a 3 minute qi gong exercise to help strengthen his bladder, yet hates wetting the bed! Adults have many, many more years of resistance in them.

I was extremely disillusioned with shiatsu and had been for a while. Shin tai has recovered some life force around bodywork for me. Ironically, I am feeling the effects of shin tai at a deeper, more fundamental level, even during a time when both my physical and mental health is at such a low ebb." 

When life force is recovered, people naturally have more energy and will to address the changes they need to make. They also have access to what direction would be most useful for them at a given moment in time. Of course, every choice is 'useful', but some bring health and development with more ease than others. The goal in shin tai is to empower the receiver to heal without so much suffering, without so many hard lessons that wake them up through crisis. It was years of experiencing clients not being able to make changes in the factors that created their illnesses that led shin tai work to make hands-on work the priority for introducing change into the receiver's life.

If you were receiving treatments with me and I heard how you were feeling and how you became disillusioned with bodywork, I would encourage you to really notice the feelings underneath that. Feel them. Feel how your body feels when you feel like that. Going through that and those feelings is actually uncovering the tone of pain that underlies your physical symptoms. Support yourself in whatever ways you can and whatever ways seem most pertinent and potent.


Touch offers a unique opportunity -

One of the unique strengths of bodywork is its ability to introduce change from deep within the body. Without any words, without giving any advice, without the receiver needing to consciously process past trauma - change moves forward. Restrictions loosen, life force surges, organs regenerate, emotions mature. Psychological distortion lessens. Consciousness and physical health grow.

 
 

It does not mean all problems go away and health is perfect. When I began receiving bodywork over 20 years ago, I was in a serious physical and emotional condition. I had little knowledge of how to take care of myself. I was so unaware of my body (although I didn't think so!) and unable to take much responsibility for my situation. Through a combination of treatments, lifestyle changes, supportive relationships and many, many painful 'mistakes' I worked my way towards a stronger more balanced state. But I still require much self care to function at a level that many people seem to take for granted. 

 


Unleash the inner guidance -

It is each individual's responsibility to keep listening to their inner guidance as it grows in sensitivity. We can encourage our clients in this direction. That guidance will continue to lead them through layers of choices that may be dynamic, changing over time with the needs of their body. It is best to not to get attached to one way of eating, one path of healing, rigid beliefs about what is best and what will work. These things will change, they will shift. Each person can grow in power to read and act on the information that lies within their own body to lead then towards regeneration and vibrant health. There will be unexpected directions that this will take, and it is important to keep listening and engage in every stage of the journey.

It can be effective to share this knowledge with our clients as they move through the healing process. Look for moments when it is appropriate to talk to them them about how the work is affecting their body and their life. Keep your eye out for the times where a little bit of advice can go a long way. But keep the focus on using your hands. They will help unleash the inner guidance that lies within the body.


To learn some beginning Shin Tai, you can enroll in our online course called "Life Force Recovery - The Spine." Click below for more information:

 
 

7 Principles of Shiatsu & the Soul of a Practitioner

Shiatsu has evolved over the years in how it is taught and practiced.  Some of the original power of this ancient healing art has been lost due to an emphasis on specialization and certification.  Although more contemporary methods of treatment, technique and diagnosis are very valuable, it is important to also integrate the original principles of shiatsu into your practice so that receivers and practitioners can reap its full benefits. Please read below about the 7 core principles of shiatsu.

 

1. Whole Body “Ki”

Original shiatsu diagnosis was very simple. The practitioner started by viewing the whole body as energy or “ki” (also called 'chi') and assessing the receiver in simple terms. Here are some examples of how the ki might be described:

  • stuck ki
  • dispersed ki
  • ki doesn’t move
  • yin or yang ki
  • heavy ki
  • weak ki

A practitioner could use any “impression” of ki that characterized the overall energy of the person.

 
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The treatment approach was often times simple and based around balancing the overall condition of the client. A shiatsu practitioner might say “If ki doesn’t move make it move” or “If ki is too dispersed then bring together & ground the ki.” The treatment might also include one or two specific targets, such as addressing the condition of an organ or body system.

Over the last 25 years shiatsu has moved much more towards details and specific diagnosis; sometimes the original spirit of a ‘ki oriented” shiatsu treatment is lost to conceptual exercises.  Learning to see whole body ki can bring more potency to the practice, and enliven it with the original spirit of shiatsu.*  

* Please click here for more information about our online instruction course in traditional shiatsu.  

 

2. A Person’s Ki Reflects the Sum Total of Their Environment & Way of Life.

The Ki of the whole body is like a fabric made of different threads. A person internalizes the forces and qualities of the world with which they interface and becomes a matrix of ki that reflects those influences. Some of the forces that compose the whole body ki are:

Life Energy

Life Energy

  • Environment
  • Food
  • People
  • Beliefs/ dialogue
  • Emotions
  • Language
  • Events

 

 

 

Seeing and having empathy for the forces that have formed a person's ki matrix, including the imbalances, helps a shiatsu practitioner direct his or her technique in a way that allows the treatment to reach the basic core of the receiver's needs.

 

3. The Body Has the Power to Heal Itself

In Shiatsu, we use touch to enliven the body's natural ability to heal itself. Shiatsu stimulates the the body’s healing power in two main ways:

  1. The treatment stimulates ki, which then activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This activates the regenerative functions of the body, including the immune system.
  2. The stimulation of ki also encourages the body to purge itself of life suppressing toxins and stagnating debris that has been stored in the body over time. This process is called “discharge."  It can cause the symptoms of a condition to temporarily get worse. After the the discharging process has subsided, a person feels much better and more alive, because the body is clearer and can perform the life functions with less interference.

Old school practitioners therefore felt that a treatment was very effective if the client became sick afterwards. This can be difficult for westerners to accept.  But these traditional practitioners understood that before healing takes place, the symptoms can appear to increase and that this is a very positive sign.

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We can also transpose the idea of discharge to transformation of emotional patterns and beliefs that undermine a person's health and happiness. When the physical body changes, these things change as well.  As that occurs, the life system can temporarily recreate situations that imitate the ones the formed the patterns in the first place.

 

 

4. The Spiritual Development of the Practitioner

Originally, shiatsu trainings were centered around the the physical, emotional and spiritual development of the student. Technique was often secondary. Classes always included exercises and practices for the personal growth of the aspiring healer. The training emphasized obtaining the strength, flexibility, and the awareness needed to navigate life and its’ challenge of constant change.

Many of the practices also focused on developing the perception of vibration, and the effect it has on our individual and collective lives. Practices such as chanting, aura clearing, palm healing, and activating chakras were used to give the future practitioner the health, vitality and perception for an effective, successful practice.

Please click here to listen to a lecture about the vibrational meaning of the word 'shiatsu' and learn more about what it represents.  

 
 

There were also techniques given for healing ancestors. This added greater depth to emotional and mental clarity. Shiatsu was ultimately presented as a way of life. A person needed to practice and develop themselves to acquire well rounded skills, experience and knowledge. Their practice was seen as a reflection of their own condition.

These may be difficult ideas for people to understand in our contemporary career-oriented society. Now many students want to go to school only to get a certificate. They pay their fees and feel entitled to have classes on their terms and to have the standards lowered to their expectations. Traditionally the right to practice was determined by the students dedication to the process and the fulfilling of the many unseen requirements that really create a qualified healing practitioner.* Originally, shiatsu was a path of service and self realization.

 

5. Beginner's Mind

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Beginner's Mind is the foundation of a shiatsu practitioner's attitude. Approaching each situation (treatment) as a blank page waiting to be filled in gives the possibility to see a situation clearly and accurately. Beginner's mind takes off the filters that tend to distort and prejudge what we are actually seeing.

At the same time, there is great value to protocols, systems and conceptual knowledge. These serve as structure for learning and developing skills. However, although protocol has an organizing effect on treatments, it must ultimately give way if we want to see each client as they are and allow their uniqueness to create the treatment map.

What we learn by exercising beginners’ mind in our sessions transposes into one of the most important lessons for being in the moment and enjoying life.

 

6. Hara is the LIfe Center

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Originally, hara was presented as much more than a diagnosis vehicle. It was taught as a very potent treatment element that initiates deep healing and change. Hara was presented as the life center and a microcosm of a person's universe.**

The development of a practitioner meant an evolving awareness of hara. It meant creating a strong physical hara through training as well as a metaphysical understanding that hara is the key to centeredness in life, relations and purpose. Hara is not really something to be talked about. It is an experience of connection to nature and the earth. 

** Please click here to read about our video instruction course in traditional hara treatment.

 

 

 

 

 

7. Energy Follows Intention and Attention

A shiatsu practitioner learns to direct energy with intention

A shiatsu practitioner learns to direct energy with intention

Shiatsu is a practice of balancing ki. We move ki, calm ki, activate ki, soften ki, etc. We use our perception of energy and vibration to harmonize unequal forces of the clients ki to improve their state of well being. In life, we can use consciously formed intention to direct energy in order to create the circumstances we desire. In treatment, we can form our intention to direct energy where and how we want it to flow within the receiver's body.

Intention creates an atmosphere that supports the practitioner in their work and the client in their healing. Attention is where we focus our ki. Whatever our attention goes to, is magnified and becomes bigger in proportion. Often we see clients who have many good things in their lives, but they are focusing on the 10-15% that may be difficult. Therefore the 10-15%, in real space and time, dominates their life and appears to be 50-90% of their reality.

At the soul level, clients are the ultimate mirror for the healing practitioner who is walking the spiritual path. The people and clients we attract in our lives have the problems and habits that reflect our own on some level. Shiatsu practitioners are not curing people.  They are entering into a partnership during the treatment that encourages the innate healing power of all involved to awaken. This is where we can set our intention and focus our attention.


* For more information about our video instruction course in traditional shiatsu, please click on the link below:

Holiday Shiatsu Challenge

A family gathering can be a great time to do some shiatsu with your family & friends.  You can set up a table or futon in the corner of a room and offer 10 minute sessions.  Do more traditional shiatsu - lots of rocking, stretching and invigorating pressure - rather than something like fascia or central channel work.  Keep it light and stimulating.

Holiday Shiatsu Challenge

Here is the specific challenge:  Get three of your family members, friends (or even pets!) into your 'shiatsu area' to get some bodywork during the coming holidays.  We challenge you to find a way to share a little bit of shiatsu.   Do at least three techniques on at least three people (not clients!) before January 1st.  

It will help relieve some of their stress, and also give you a boost of fresh energy and perspective during the sometimes challenging (!?) situations that pop up when people that grew up together reconvene.  Plus, it's an opportunity to create some positive healing in yourself and those around you.  

If you are spending the holidays on your own, you can still participate!  Spend at least 3 ten-minute sessions doing some Do-In, QiGong or other self-care practices.

 
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