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Shiatsu is a form of Japanese Acupressure which runs Chi and energy (light) through the client’s meridians leading to relaxation, harmonious energy flow and greater vitality. The pressure used is more firm than traditional acupressure (which primarily works with light touch focusing more on the Chi transfer than the pressure).
I learned Shiatsu in massage school – as I went to a very Chinese Medicine focused massage training program in the sacred Sangre de Christo mountains of Colorado – the Crestone Healing Arts Center. It was interesting though – in massage school Shiatsu was my least favorite modality.
It requires a sharp mind, mindful focus and focused energy work. In Shiatsu we are pushing little spheres of light into the client’s meridian system, which is what leads to such incredible relaxation and in some cases, enhanced chi sensations (more on this later). And Shiatsu is very rhythmic – inhale, shift hand / acu-point positions, exhale, firm pressure in, find a still point, count one-one-thousand, inhale, shift… etc. And we do this for 50 mins or more straight! Running all the 12 Principle Meridians!
So let’s just say in massage school I got nervous and I had trouble maintaining that pace and rhythm for more than 5 or 10 minutes. If the mind of the practitioner starts to drift off, the rhythm changes and the client will probably notice (unless they are in a healing trance which happens quite often these days).
When I got back to Virginia over a year ago, I wasn’t sure if or how much I would use Shiatsu at all, especially considering my cantankerous relationship with it in school. Then I started experimenting with muscle testing my clients to see which modality would be most beneficial for them in that session (consider I offer about eight or nine modalities, this created a quick easy method for assessing what might serve them most). And if I wasn’t sure what modality they would need that day, it invariably nearly always came up as Shiatsu!
So now I offer Shiatsu at least once or twice a week. And it is not my specialty! I would say working with the Vagus Nerve – the Polyvagal System – the Autonomic Nervous System settling and resourcing is my specialty. Along with offering Craniosacral Therapy. Plus I offer Deep Tissue and Hot Stones massages. And if you are regular reader, you would know I have been doing astrology for years (since 2004). So Shiatsu is a little bit lower on the pecking order, and yet I find it to be the most settling, integrating and harmonizing of everything I offer.
If I do a deeper session with someone in the Vagus work, then I usually do one or two sessions without emotional process involved, meaning I will do a pure Craniosacral session (less talking involved) or I will muscle check them to see if Shiatsu or Acupressure would be ideal.
In other words, if someone needs to calm down, I offer Shiatsu. If someone is feeling stressed and anxious, I definitely consider offering Shiatsu. If someone has just gotten back from a long journey and they are jet-lagged, I offer Shiatsu… You get the picture!
Recently, with a few clients, when I do Shiatsu, toward the end of the session, I am sending positive well-wishing toward their pituitary and pineal glands (in the brain). And this means I am imagining light streaming from my hands down into their endocrine glands. And with a couple of clients in particular, who have done a lot of their own personal growth work, something amazing happened!
With one, who has done a ton of yoga and energy work, when I did this, their pituitary gland lit up like a prism and it cascaded the light I was sending to it down in a rainbow colored shower throughout their body! It was incredible! Definitely first time I witnessed that! They commented later that it was the most amazing Shiatsu they had ever received…
And another person, with whom I did a similar type of technique toward the end of the session, I was aware that their Brahma aperture was opening. Afterward I actually commented saying, “You know at the end there, when I was sending light and Chi into your endocrine system, it felt like your skylight was opening. The crown chakra was opening.” And they said, “Yes, that was a weird sensation. I’m glad you mentioned it, it wasn’t just me imagining things.” !!!
Pretty incredible for a modality I almost abandoned! I love Chinese Medicine, in school we had to memorize more than 120 acu-points and I use most of those during a Shiatsu session. First we do the head (face down), then the back, arms, hips, legs – including all the 12 Principle Meridians there (the Lung meridian, the Heart, the Kidney meridian, the Spleen, Stomach, Liver, etc etc). There is even an abdominal portion called Masunaga (named after the creator of it). This can be very powerful as well because most of us sweep uncomfortable emotions under the carpet… and it turns out the abdomen is where those unexpressed emotions end up! Better to shine some light on those shadowy areas than to let them fester and ferment behind walls of repressive psychic energy… (in my humble opinion).
So give Shiatsu a try sometime! It is an amazing modality with therapeutic results. At worst you will be more relaxed. At best, the sky is the limit as far as what you might experience!
Thank you for reading!
P.S. Not to brag too much… You may not get all of these benefits above from all practitioners of Shiatsu… I bring a daily meditation practice, a weekly Qigong session and years of doing personal growth work – cleaning and clearing my meridians and energy channels, allowing a powerful circuit for Chi life-force energy to flow to my clients.