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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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


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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.

spring-chi-flower

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.

 
spring-chi-dew
 
  • 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.

meditation-bird-song
  • 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.


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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:


12 Techniques for Strengthening the Digestive System

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Please click the link below to read a short booklet '12 Techniques for Strengthening the Digestive System.' The techniques are simple, effective practices that only require doing easy-to-integrate exercises. Use them for yourself, and offer them to your clients to increase energy, decrease pain, and support their quest for better health.

A majority of people suffer from the effects of a weak digestive system. Poor diet, low quality food, sedentary lifestyle, and environmental factors have all contributed to a decrease in digestive function and led to a whole range of symptoms that many of your clients (and perhaps you!) are struggling to alleviate. It is well known that a healthy digestive system is a cornerstone of good health. Strengthening this part of the body is of utmost importance in leading a fulfilled and vigorous life.

 


For more information about our online video course 'Hara: Treatment for the Digestive & Circulatory Systems', 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 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. 


 

Bring more skill & depth to your bodywork practice with our online video courses. Click the links below for more information:

 

We welcome your comments & questions below.

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:

Tips for Strengthening Your Digestive System: Part I

Learn some techniques to strengthen your digestive system. These are things that you can do for yourself immediately, including a never-before-taught style of hara Do-In that is extremely effective and easy to do.

This was a livestream session with Saul Goodman, so is a relatively informal video. Enjoy!

 
 
 

To watch Part II of this series, please click on the following link: Tips for Strengthening Your Digestive System Part II.


 
 

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

 

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.

healthaspects

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.

 
shiatsuwholebodyki
 

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.

shiatsu-discharge

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

beginnersmindshiatsu

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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Whole Body Chi - diagnosis, treatment & discussion

Early on in Saul Goodman's bodywork studies, he had the good fortune to study with several of the shiatsu pioneers that brought the practice to the West. In this video he shares some of their diagnosis and treatment methods, along with answering some FAQ's about learning shiatsu through video instruction.  

Please click the play button below to watch the video:

 

 

For information on our new online course "Shiatsu Techniques of the Masters"  please click on the link below.

We welcome your comments & feedback below.

The Original Spirit of Shiatsu

Early on in Saul Goodman's bodywork studies, he had the good fortune to study with several of the shiatsu pioneers that brought the practice to the West. He took classes with Masunaga, Yamamoto, Kushi, Bo-In Lee and Ohashi.  As shiatsu has become more standardized in the last 25 years, much of the spirit & style of these original teachers has fallen out of use. 

He would like to share some of the things he learned in order to revive the spirit of this traditional shiatsu.  This will bring more vitality into your practice & your life!  Click the play button on the image below to watch a short video called The Original Spirit of Shiatsu:

 

 
 

For more info on our new video course "Shiatsu Techniques of the Masters" please click below:

 

Get ongoing resources about shiatsu by subscribing to our mailing list:

 

We welcome your comments and feedback below!

Keeping Inspired in Your Practice

Many bodywork practitioners struggle to stay inspired on a daily basis in their practice.  They might lose inspiration, get bored, and lack the discipline and direction to keep themselves motivated and engaged.  There are specific things you can do to address this issue.  We wanted to share them with you so that you get the most out of your classes, continue to grow as a bodyworker, and enjoy your work.  

But before saying anything further, here are some quick ideas if you have little time, energy or will to do much of anything.  These are for those emergency moments, when you need a boost but are too overwhelmed to fit much in:

  1. Crack open some of those books that are gathering dust in your treatment room and read something related to bodywork that motivates you.
  2. Watch a video from our YouTube channel or another bodywork video.
  3. While sitting or lying down, imagine that you are gathering energy into your physical body.  Take your thoughts, emotions, sensory perceptions....  and imagine that you press them into yourself.  Imagine sunlight and earth and ocean and press that into your body. 

And now, for some more involved ideas, there are a number of different approaches on different levels.  We have grouped them into three main categories:  Self-care, Integrating New Material, and Keeping Things Creative.  

Self Care

Pick one of these options and do it for at least 5 minutes before a treatment OR any time you feel scattered, uninspired or low energy:

  • Do-In, especially self-hara treatment
  • Proprioceptive exercise & light body activation work
  • Breathing, meditation, qi gong, yoga
  • Walk in nature
  • Have a cup of herbal tea or eat a quality meal;  this will get your blood more alkaline and immediately give you a boost

Maybe the most important thing that will keep you inspired in your practice is to realize that your practice is integrated with your own development.  It is constantly giving you opportunities to expand your understanding of yourself, your family, and cycles and patterns of life.  Recognizing what we get for our growth from giving treatments can help keep them interesting.  

On a practical level, various kinds of self-care/self-development exercises are integral to a good practice.  They help make our condition more in tune with what we are doing.  They help us to see more clearly what is needed during a treatment, and to convert our technique and information into a creative process during the work.  When we are in a 'creative' mode we feel better and things are more satisfying. 

 

Integrating New Material

Pick one of these options:

Granddaughter Ana after short spur-of-the-moment treatment one evening.  A few minutes of bodywork with family is a great way to practice new material.

Granddaughter Ana after short spur-of-the-moment treatment one evening.  A few minutes of bodywork with family is a great way to practice new material.

  • Choose 1 technique and use it with every client for a week
  • Do 5 full practice sessions this week using all the material from a course or protocol
  • Do at least 10 minutes of new material during each session you have this week
  • Get a family member,pet, or neighbor and practice on them for 10 minutes

To integrate material from the online courses (or other classes you have taken), it is important to be specific with yourself about practicing.  Determine how many sessions you want to sit down and work with the material.  Then make an appointment with yourself so that you outline how much time you want to spend on it and see it through.  There is always some work involved to maintain the quality of our practice.  It pays off in our own satisfaction when we give better quality treatments to our clients. 

For those of you who might not have much of a practice, do whatever amount of practicing feels right for you.  One example is to set up at least one session a week with a friend or family member and do that for a month.  If you set small, specific goals you will be more likely to stick to them, and not get overwhelmed with a huge, vague 'I've got to learn more shiatsu' goal.  

 

 

Keeping it Creative

One of the best ways to keep your practice creative is to let yourself make variations of techniques.  This leads to the discovery of new ideas and keeps your practice fresh.  When working, be aware of the condition of the client.  Notice how you can adjust the technique or even the protocol to be more appropriate in the moment.  

Being lazy and checking out is not easier, it makes things more difficult!  You will miss out on important information and miss out on opportunities to create what is most effective in each moment of a session.  Keep your eye out for a future article/video about the process of making variations to techniques.

 

 

It is Not Luxury to Take Care of Yourself - It is Part of Your Job!

Working on your own in a secluded treatment room is a practice in and of itself.  It is solely up to you to stay engaged and present during each treatment.  Most of us do not have a boss, we don't get reviewed, and don't have to answer to anyone else other than our clients.  It can be easy for the mind and heart to drift.  Maybe you think that the next session will be more interesting....  or that you will pay attention more once you can use a certain technique, or you finish doing the laundry, or go on a walk, or your client really needs you, etc. etc.  You get the picture.  We've all been there.   

Schedule a certain amount of time each month to work on these things that will keep your practice alive.  Taking care of your condition and honing technical skills is necessary to have a thriving practice that you find stimulating.  The great thing is that you probably enjoy doing most of these things!  But we think we should not take the time for them, that they are a luxury.  Well they aren't.  They are a necessary part of being an effective bodyworker who facilitates true transformation in their clients.  

 

We welcome your comments below.  

Please share any great tips you use to keep inspired!

Winter Health Tip

Here is a winter health tip to help you weather the coming winter.

Cold weather is on the way.  There are a few simple food choices you can make now that will help your body generate more internal heat for the coming winter.

Many of the common drinks and foods we eat regularly are actually very cooling to the body:  orange juice, salads, tropical fruits, avocados, tomatoes....   Avoiding these items during cold weather can help prepare your system to handle winter.

Winter Health Tip - eat burdock root

Winter Health Tip - eat burdock root

In addition, including foods that help to generate chi deep in the circulatory system can make a big difference in how you feel during the colder months.  Root vegetables like burdock, rutabaga and carrots will stoke up the internal fire.  Make a savory slow-cooked stew with plenty of these vegetables, winter squash and some kombu (a seaweed).  Buckwheat is also a great choice.

Instead of feeling a constant low grade chill, you can transform your body into a heat generator!  Not only is this more enjoyable than shivering the days away, it could save you some money on your heating bills this year :).