Working with clients who have Multiple Sclerosis

This article is in response to the following question from a shiatsu/shin tai practitioner about Multiple Sclerosis:

“I have a potential client who has suffered from Multiple Sclerosis for 15 years and would welcome any advice on treatments. Also, is there a possibility of reversing it?”


When working with someone who has Multiple Sclerosis, it is very important to proceed with special care during treatments. Work with less pressure than usual and for a shorter amount of time in order to not create too much change. Clearing some of the compression and restriction in the body to enhance the flow of life force in a gradual way is the best way to proceed. One reason for this is that when someone has MS, their membranes and energy system tend to be very porous, and the system tends to leak energy. If things begin to accelerate (breathing, meridians, chakras, movement, etc.), this can exacerbate the draining of life force.

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Therefore go slowly and not too deeply and do more integrative, strengthening work. This will be more effective than initiating deep change, like what occurs with extensive Central Channel work and deep hara treatment. If symptoms become worse after a session, do even less.

Dietary considerations are also quite important. It can be helpful to consult a holistic nutritionist or macrobiotic counselor.

It is best not to try and 'cure' or 'reverse' anything while doing treatments with any client. Instead, focus on facilitating a more balanced flow of energy in the body during the time you are working with them. The ‘healing’ of the situation comes from helping to restore their own inner healing power. This comes through dietary changes, treatment and their own will to go deeper into the meaning of the imbalance.

To read more about how to proceed in treatments with someone who has a serious illness, please click on the blog post below:

How to Work with People Who Have a Serious Illness


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Ginger Compress: a wonderful home remedy

What you will need to do a ginger compress

What you will need to do a ginger compress

A ginger compress is a natural, effective and relatively simple home remedy. Someone can give themself a ginger compress, but we recommend getting a friend or family member to do it with you. It works great to have each person give a compress to the other, one after the other. Try having a ginger compress evening with your family or some friends - it is a wonderful way to spend some time together while strengthening your bodies. You can also offer ginger compresses to your clients instead of (or in addition to) a treatment.

Ginger compress on the hara (abdomen) enables better absorption by the small intestine, and improved elimination by the large intestine. It helps to eliminate trapped, stagnating materials from the digestive tract, improving circulation and energy flow throughout the body. A ginger compress applied on the kidney area (the lower back) increases overall vitality and improves the quality of the blood. You can then do a compress on the sacrum as well for an extra special treatment, especially during the cold winter months!

Since winter is kidney time, it is a particularly effective time to do a ginger compress on the kidney and sacral area of the back. This stimulates circulation deep in the body and helps you feel more warm and full of vitality, even in very cold, blustery weather.

Click the button below to download detailed directions for doing a ginger compress:


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The Healing Process

Treatments Create Change

A person's whole story is in their body. Bodywork gives us one of the best opportunities to listen to someone and understand what they are experiencing, and them to shift parts of their life that are painful. It can transform the health of a person's organs, emotions and life system. Treatments can assist someone in the initiation of changes that will lead to engaging in present time with vibrant health. 

People who come to us for bodywork want to achieve well-being and healing; underneath that is always a desire for joy. One depends on the other. Joy can be difficult to experience without a foundation of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. So clients come see us and tell us about symptoms and conditions they would like to cure, situations that they would like to change. They tell us that they are not happy and would like to be.

If we can go to the client’s system and help restore strength, alignment and resilience, real change will begin to happen in their body and life. What is behind their discomfort and sickness will come to the surface and make itself known. This is not always easy; healing is a double edge sword. As someone gets stronger and healthier, they also come face to face with the situations and behaviors that caused disharmony in the first place. These factors led to compression in the body and over time caused nagging, uncomfortable aches, pains and symptoms.

 
Photograph by shin tai instructor hermann grobbauer

Photograph by shin tai instructor hermann grobbauer

 
 
The more we can perceive and understand different stages of healing, the better we are equipped to handle ourselves and those whom we treat with skill and sensitivity. 
 

The Healing Process

As a practitioner works with a client over time, there are usually several elements of the treatment that are priorities in creating positive change. Then there are other factors that can supplement those main elements, providing integration or supporting discharge of physical and emotional toxicity. These various elements of treatment shift; sometime there are certain aspects that remain primary for a singular treatment, or over a period of months or even years. Something that could seem secondary for one period of time could take center stage at another period.

At a certain point of this treatment process, there is a border that is crossed where a person begins to connect to what has been underneath their sickness and suffering. Usually they do not want to experience this. Treatments and healing are fine as long as they fit into a convenient timeline and do not not require that business-as-usual life gets interrupted. But when healing requires a cold hard look into behaviors and beliefs that undermine the health, happiness and prosperity that they are seeking, people often start to panic and look for the exits. 

All types of excuses appear, often seemingly coincidental, to push the healing out of a priority position and back out to it’s normal, peripheral status. As a someone realizes that they will have to go through a real revolution of behavior and thought transformation, and an unravelling of conditioning, they miraculously create situations that enable them to cancel sessions so that they can delay making changes and jump back into the ways of life that cause the sickness. They unconsciously sabotage the healing process in which they had previously been quite enthusiastic.

 

Avoiding the Avoidance

It could be that taking a break from treatments is necessary for someone to have time to discharge and integrate changes. Faster is certainly not always better when it comes to healing. But a 180 degree turn-around from being actively involved in addressing certain behaviors and conditions that have been creating distress, to reengaging in ignoring (and even enhancing) more destructive tendencies is an indication of a usually unconscious decision to avoid addressing the key things which undermine health. 

When you recognize this possibility in a client, it can be invaluable to discuss the healing process in a nonjudgemental way. A bit of encouragement at the right moment can help keep someone on a path towards greater health. Let them know that they are in a period of tremendous opportunity to shift their life direction, and that a little more self-care can go a long way towards promoting healing. This may not be in the form of more treatments, but rather any lifestyle choice/behavior that promotes their well-being. Your sensitive words delivered with compassion can help a client avoid their avoidance, especially when they understand the pattern that may be playing out. 

We all move through this healing process to different degrees. Perhaps you have recognized some of these patterns in yourself, either now or in the past. It is valuable to learn about it so that we can observe it in ourselves and our clients. We do not do this judge, but rather to have the clarity to understand what is occurring. This helps us as practitioners progress into greater health and adeptly guide clients in their journey. The more we can perceive and understand different stages of healing, the better we are equipped to handle ourselves and those whom we treat with skill and sensitivity. 


 

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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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Shin Tai Treatment - Advanced Central Channel

Each shiatsu shin tai treatment below was given during an Advanced Central Channel course given by Saul Goodman in November 2014. Central Channel is part of Shiatsu Shin Tai. It works to free the body of menningal stress patterns. As space and motion are recovered, the body begins to literally enter more fully into the present time continuum. Central Channel work has been referred to as the 'jazz' of bodywork due to its complexity, intelligence, and creativity.

The material in each shin tai treatment is geared for practitioners who have already done extensive study in Shiatsu Shin Tai, although the concepts could be helpful for any bodyworker to see.

Please leave comments and/or questions below.  We welcome your feedback!

 

Shiatsu Shin Tai is a comprehensive, precise, and highly effective healing touch therapy developed by Saul Goodman. It expands on traditional Shiatsu massage to create an evolutionary system of diagnosis and technique that stimulates the flow of life force in the body.

Advanced Central Channel - a short Shin Tai treatment using anterior contacts

This short demo treatment was given during an Advanced Central Channel course given by Saul Goodman in November 2014. It includes work with some anterior contacts. Central Channel is part of Shiatsu Shin Tai. It works to free the body of menningal stress patterns. As space and motion are recovered, the body begins to literally enter more fully into the present time continuum. Central Channel work has been referred to as the 'jazz' of bodywork due to its complexity, intelligence, and creativity.

The material in this treatment is geared for practitioners who have already done extensive study in Shiatsu Shin Tai, although the concepts could be helpful for any bodyworker to see.

These anterior contacts usually present themselves once life force is really activated in the body,and there are phase II & III motions. Common locations include the sternum and manubrium, the ribs, the xyphoid process, the top of the pubic bone, and the collar bone.

 

Shiatsu Shin Tai is a comprehensive, precise, and highly effective healing touch therapy developed by Saul Goodman. It expands on traditional Shiatsu massage to create an evolutionary system of diagnosis and technique that stimulates the flow of life force in the body.

 

How Deep Can You Allow Yourself to Be Yourself?

by David Imhoof, Zurich, Switzerland Hello everyone.  Thank you for this possibility to write down and share my experience with that work!

Over the last weeks I have been treating (for the first time) two clients with Hemiparesis. It is interesting for me to witness, how quickly fascia starts moving, how meridians respond all along their way through the system very clearly, and how motion into RES 1 (phase of resonance) takes place over the treatment(s) through SHIN TAI and SHIASTU techniques (I have to adapt them to the the situaton what is another very interesting part of development for me). Today I wondered:   That at some level, those clients seem to enable movement in an easier way - in spite of their "disability". Some parts of the body with actually no conscious feeling actually is what starts reacting most in terms of motion in that part of the body, but also towards "starting the motor" running. Probably it is because I am giving those "yearning"-KYO-joints, -muscles, -bones, -meridians etc. the attention.

I asked myself again: How deep can you allow yourself to be yourself?

Some other clients seem to constantly not allow themselves to feel the sensations in- and connectedness to their body. But cut themselves off those possibilities, the moment new sensations start to popp up in a glimpse of a moment. "It might be not acurate..." At the other hand, how deep can I allow myself to let happen what happens? Staying in that neutral and clear focus of listening, without pushing or judging!? With patience. We really are growing as slowly as plants I guess. But a small step might also have a huge effect.

Since the "Teachers Training" I feel on some deep level more at ease with myself, trusting my work - my focus has eased down as well, without getting unpresent - and I realise; another kind of "understanding" is growing about "reading what is there." It is like an unspectacular beauty in a very spectacular way.