Tips for Bodyworkers

When giving hands-on help to those in need, there are a few key points that can make everything you do more effective and safe.  Each of these things could be a whole course in and of themselves.  In fact, in Shiatsu Shin Tai classes we cover them quite extensively.  For now, we will touch on them briefly in order to help improve the quality of your work.

 

1.  Never Force

Always use pressure and movement that is within the receiver's comfort zone.  The goal is to gently encourage the body into new ranges of mobility and freedom.  A receiver may feel slight discomfort at certain points of the treatment, but it should be a 'good pain,' not an 'I can't wait until this is over' pain.

 

 

 

A good way to go about this is to go into each technique as far as is easy, and then take it just a little farther.  If you notice your receiver clenching their body, tightening the whole area you are working on, or holding their breath, you are using too much force.  As you do a technique, the area you are working with may soften or increase in flexibility.  At that point you can take the technique a bit further, always staying within the receiver's comfort zone.

 

2. Use Proper Body Positioning

When doing treatments, using your body properly is of utmost importance.  In shiatsu, practitioners are trained to move and apply technique always coming from their hara.

 

 

 

Hara is a Japanese word that has many layers of meaning.  Anatomically it refers to the abdominal region of the body, or our center of gravity.  But hara can also extend to mean life quality.  Hara is a central theme in the thought process and way of life in China and Japan.  Whether it is shiatsu, martial arts, flower arranging, noh dancing, or any activity, the origin of action is in the hara.

When practicing the techniques in this course with your family, friends and clients, it is important to have an awareness of your hara as you are working.  You can begin on your own to practice moving from your hara, by keeping some focus on your center of gravity and your hip joints.  Allow your belly to relax and settle down into your pelvic structure as you work.  This will help you be comfortable and treat with power, without exerting much physical effort.  

Watching the demonstrations in our videos and courses will give you enough information to begin to cultivate an awareness of moving from your hara.

 

3. Go Slower with Children, the Elderly & the Sick

We can do bodywork with children and the elderly, and with people who are in a weakened condition.  But there is an important difference to be made: always treat with LESS pressure and LESS movement.  If someone's system is not fully developed (a baby through the late teen years) or in a weakened state (an elderly person who is not in vibrant health or someone who is ill), we want to introduce change more slowly.  The idea is to stimulate an amount of movement and energy flow that the receiver's system can handle with ease.

 

When motion and energy are stimulated in the body, toxins that have been compressed are released.  These toxins can be chemical, emotional and psychological.  The physical toxins need to be flushed out of the system through the bloodstream, skin, intestines, and/or kidneys.  The emotional and psychological 'toxins' or stresses need to release through the web of a person's emotional landscape and belief structure.  If too much toxicity and stress is released at one time, it can become bogged down and cause sickness, discomfort and excessive emotional turmoil.  We want to make sure not to give a very young, very old, or a weakened system too much to handle at one time.

So pay attention to who you are treating. If they are very young or old, or in a weakened state, go slower.  Work with less pressure. Treat for a shorter period of time. If the technique says 'do three times', do it one or two times.  The basic rule of thumb is that if you don't force, the body will release what it can handle.  If you force, you may stimulate too much change at one time.  Sometimes there will be some discomfort after a treatment.  But we are looking to not overwhelm the system with too much change at one time.

 

4.  Tools of the Trade:  Be Creative

You will see that Saul usually works on a futon when demonstrating techniques in the online courses.  He also uses something called the BodyCushion, a set of cushions designed to give the receiver maximum support.  These things are useful, but you do not need these things to give a great treatment. 

 

 

If you are already a professional bodyworker, you most likely have a massage table or futon, plus a variety of bolsters and cushions handy for positioning.  If you don’t have these things, don’t be afraid to be creative.  Your receiver can lie on some blankets on the floor or on a bed.  When I was starting out, I even practiced on people on my dining room table!  A couple of sleeping bags made it a great surface to use.  You can also use rolled up blankets or pillows to help provide support when needed.  Work with what you have to make your receiver as comfortable as possible.  

Note:  When working with a receiver in prone position (face down/lying on the stomach), it is important to make sure their neck does not get stiff from being turned to the side. If a receiver is uncomfortable lying with their head turned to one side, put a small pillow or rolled up towel underneath the shoulder on the side to which their head is turned. This relieves some pressure in the neck and makes them more comfortable.

Teaching Central Channel in Scotland: Feedback

By Liz Arundel Dear Friends,

I wanted to give you some feedback on the first Central Channel course in Scotland and what I learnt from the experience.

We had 2, 3 day weekends 6 weeks apart. This big space between the weekends was due to the room only being available at those times. The students said that it was very helpful having time in between to digest the information and practice and rewrite their notes.

2 students sent me their typed notes by email after the first weekend for me to check for mistakes (there were a few but not many) and then we shared them with the group. They had a good grasp of the info and I think it helped them to type them out.

We had 9 students and 5 teachers on the first weekend! We, the teachers, were all very excited about the course and the students picked up on the significance of it being the first CC in Scotland. I felt very honoured to be teaching this material and the other 4 teachers (Char Scrivener, Kindy Kaur, Rachel Boase, Petra Elliott) all made very valuable contributions to discussions and helped clarify the information. At times it was like a mini teacher training for us all! The benefit of having so many of us in the room was that when they worked in 3s, each group had a teacher with them which they found very helpful for guidance and questions. It also gave the teachers an opportunity to teach their group, just like in Hungary! Seeing their confusion really taught me humility, patience and compassion and reminded me of how I felt when I first started learning this work and right up to the TT!

On the second weekend it was just Kindy, Petra and myself. The group was more confident and less confused this time and more settled and clear themselves from all the work they had received so there as a better flow to the 3 days. Clearly the CC was working! So having 3 of us guiding the class was perfect. Kindy led some of the proprio exercises which the class  really enjoyed. After Stage 5 the class did a short treatment in 2s on their own and that helped their confidence.

Alot of their questions were useful in clarifying information. When I was demonstrating Stage 2 and 3 they didn't come up in the person I was treating but stage 4 appeared so they saw how non linear the process was. So I showed them on the spine where to contact and then reviewed it after the practice session when the stages did come up. With Stage 5 it was right there at the beginning of the demo! There was more phase 3 motion in the second weekend while I demoed and when the class practiced which gave them heart that it was working. Lots more proprio suggestion from givers and priopro sensations from receivers in second weekend too.

After all the writing on the board the first weekend, it was suggested to me to organise a powerpoint presentation of the stages for the second weekend so didn't have to spend so long writing them up. This was a major logistical challenge for me as I'm not great with computers. So I got some help from a friend and I did it, only to find that I didn't have  any powerpoint technology at the centre. So I printed out my powerpoint notes for the class for stages 4-6 (just the basic info) which they said was very helpful and it gave us more time to go into the finer details of stage 5 in particular.

I had an hilarious moment when I was showing on the spine the anatomical difference between C1 and C2 and had turned the spine anteriorly and forgot to turn it over to show the spinous processes on the back but gamely tried to show them the processes on the front. Kindy's face was a picture of horror. When I realised  a few seconds later we had a good laugh! So always good to admit mistakes immediately!!

So I'm trying to organise a review weekend in September so follow up their progress. They all have buddys to practice with and go over the material and notes. I feel it was a great success and can't wait to teach the next one.

I hope all your plans and teaching are going well.  Love and hugs to you all,

Liz (Arundel)

Let the Receiver's Body Do the Work

Shin Tai - Central Channel Shin Tai treatments have many pauses where the practitioner is watching and waiting.  The increased life force in the receiver's system is taking over the 'work' of the treatment.

Let the receiver's body do the work; encourage their body to do the work.  Their body knows best how to balance, adjust, and evolve.  When the receiver's body does the work it recovers its powers of self-healing, self-maintenance, and regeneration.

Saul Goodman

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