Shiatsu is a form of manual medicine from Japan. A traditional Shiatsu treatment is given at floor level, with the client fully clothed on a soft futon. A practitioner’s palms, knees, elbows, fingers, thumbs, and feet are used to massage the client’s body. Rather than using muscular effort, the practitioner uses relaxed weight from their center of gravity to attain deep pressure; this creates a soft touch. Shiatsu restores vitality, alleviates stress, improves circulation, relieves stiff muscles, and encourages a deep sense of well-being.
Shiatsu is based on the same system of medicine as acupuncture. Both acupuncture and Shiatsu work to restore the smooth flow of chi along “meridians” (see chart). Acupuncture uses needles; Shiatsu uses physical manipulation.
In a Shiatsu session, massage, stretching, pressure points, and range of motion are applied to the meridians, which aids in harmonizing the flow of energy in the body. Working on the ground allows greater versatility with stretching, and supports the client in feeling their connection with the earth. A Zen Shiatsu session begins with a Hara diagnosis, which is a gentle palpation of the abdomen to assess which meridians are to be treated. The practitioner’s instincts and intuition, common sense, and attunement work to create a customized treatment based on the client’s unique flow of chi. Each Zen Shiatsu session varies depending on the client’s needs that day; it may be vigorous with lots of movement, or very still with the client deep in that wonderful half-asleep dream state.
Why Shiatsu? With Western massage, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. With Zen Shiatsu, the silent wobbly wheel gets help, and the squeaky wheel gets grease.
Each of the meridians encompasses functions at the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels. Shiatsu focuses the treatment on nurturing the areas of the client’s self that have been neglected by treating the meridians they represent. As a result, information arises in the client’s consciousness in the form of greater self-awareness.
Shiatsu will support you in exploring a deeper connection of yourself, and the part of you that knows the answers to your problems. You are the expert on what you need to get out of suffering. It’s just a matter of being supported and getting into the right place (grounded and centered) so you can listen to yourself better. From this state of heightened awareness, you can make more conscious choices that will bring enjoyment into your life.