Zen Shiatsu Treatments
Based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shiatsu is a method of healing and self-discovery in which acupressure along the body’s energy channels is applied, as well as stretching and moving of the joints. The work is done on the energy level in order to regain the balance on physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level.
The energy concept
Before talking about Shiatsu it’s important to understand that our body is energy. IT same energy that flows through the universe and all the things that surround us also circulates through our body and it is the motor for our organs, vital functions, thoughts, and the capacity of expressing our emotions.
On the one hand, the human being absorbs energy of his surroundings (the energy of Earth and of the universe) through the main energy channels that traverse the center of our body and connect us directly with the sky and the earth. On the other hand, it absorbs the energy of the air that we breathe and of the food that we ingest, in order to transform it in something useful for the right functioning of our body.
This shows us that, to have a good health, it is important to have a good posture in our daily activities, eat well, and breathe correctly. Once we have energy in our body it attends to the different functions of the organism. In doing this, it transforms, creating the five movements and the five elements that represent the base of Traditional Chinese Medicine, its diagnosis and its treatments.
From this we deduce that nothing is static, everything moves and transforms. In order for human beings’ energy to flow, it needs to be in continuous transformation. When we don’t change, we block ourselves, we get rigid and stuck in the same emotions and thoughts. This is how illness is created.
Each element is continuously consuming energy and providing energy to generate physical, mental, emotional and spiritual functions. It’s about learning to recognize that every part of our life is related to each element, and as a consequence that the organs and channels help us with each function. For example, we can understand for emotion that we experience, there is an organ it comes from and an energy channel through which it is expressed, and that there are Shiatsu treatments that allows the emotion’s release.
Daniela de Girolamo – our Shiatsu therapist and Qi Gong instructor
I approached Shiatsu and Traditional Chinese Medicine while studying Ayurvedic massage (Abyanga and Marmatic) and reflexology. In this time I had the opportunity to get to know some students of Shiatsu with whom I had begun to exchange Ayurvedic massage for Shiatsu, realizing that these two millenarian medicines (Ayurveda and the Chinese medicine) have a lot in common, very similar forms of understanding of the natural laws, and knowledge and tools that complement each other perfectly.
From the beginning, to me Traditional Chinese Medicine and its theory of the five elements as well as the explanation of the body’s energy processes seemed a very clear and simple way of understanding how the body and nature are perfectly connected and in a relation of interdependency. Therefore, once we understand the laws and ways of functioning of the natural elements, we can also comprehend which are the laws that rule our forms of breathing, eating, sleeping, processing, thinking, feeling, in any given moment of our lives.
In 2010 I concluded my training as a Shiatsu therapist in the school Sol y Luna in Granada, Spain, with a title recognized by the APSE (Association of Shiatsu Professionals in Spain) which is part of the FES (European Shiatsu Federation). Both have regulated Shiatsu training and the profession on a European and international level for many years.
When you find a passion, you need to cultivate it constantly and continue experiencing it in order to further develop with it and find inspiration. For this reason, I have done post-graduate trainings; among those: “Shiatsu and the menstruation cycle” with Mariana De Franceschi (Italy), “Methods of diagnosis and work with the chakras” with Diego Sánchez (Uruguay).
Shiatsu practitioners (and those of all manual and energy therapies) discovered early the importance of maintaining our own energy flow balanced and in constant movement in order for us to be healthy and develop the capacity not to allow that the energy of other people affects us. This is how I started to practice and study Chi Kung. In 2012 I finished the second year of the Chi Kung teacher training after accumulating many hours of daily practice and experiencing myself the profound benefits of this art of moving the body, breathing and directing the intention with the mind.
The FES and the ISN (International Shiatsu Network) have established a common definition for Shiatsu
“Shiatsu is an autonomous system for health care born in Japan under the influence of Chinese wisdom and the most recent occidental knowledge. Its theoretical and practical roots derive from oriental philosophy and ancient healing traditions and from the holistic concept of life and health based in them.”
“The aim of Shiatsu is to stimulate and support the natural processes of self-healing, of wellbeing and personal growth, and to maintain health looking for balance in the person’s vital energy. The treatment is based on applying pressure, energy and physical work across the channels (meridians) and on points in order to balance the circulation of the body’s vital energy (Ki or Chi).”
“It’s a self-regulated method for safeguarding and promoting health, which sustains the development of a new holistic approach of health in Europe.”
Shiatsu helps to re-establish balance in many situations such as:
- Issues with posture
- Pain in the back, neck, shoulders and contractures
- Stress, anxiety, insomnia
- Emotionally altered states
- Digestion problems
- Menstruation pain, discomfort due to menopause, hormonal alterations
- Life changing processes
- Need to relax and disconnect the mind
- Imbalance of the nervous system
- Issues with circulation
Shiatsu sessions last between 50 and 60 minutes, it is done by lying on a mat, wearing comfortable clothes in order to be able to move the extremities and joints easily. It is not recommended to arrive with jeans, for they disturb the work in the spine and tighten the hip joints.
Thanks to the techniques of Zen Shiatsu it’s possible to have a non-verbal dialogue between the therapist and the patient in which the receptor’s body expresses what it needs on a physical, emotional, and mental level, while the therapist listens with his hands, maintaining an attentive, conscious contact free of judgment.
Pressure across the channels is applied according to what the patient needs, looking for balance between the applied pressure and the intensity the patient can endure. During the massage, a specific rhythm is followed based on what the person needs (there are people who need to relax, disconnect, calm down and those who need to mobilize, have more drive, stretch…).
Step by step, the patient will relax into this rhythm more and more, and in some occasions will lose the notion of place and time, and this way disconnect from the things of his daily life in order to return to them later with a more objective and clear vision. This is what makes the healing process faster because when we become aware of where our blockades come from, we can act upon them.
It’s important to stay relaxed during the session to allow the therapist to work with joint stretching and mobilizations. When we resist and keep the joints rigid, the energy cannot flow. When the energy does not circulate, the changing process will be far slower.
The meridians (energy channels) that traverse the whole body pass through different tissues, and according to how the energy flows through these channels can we perceive different sensations. We notice how each body zone reacts in it’s own way to the same level of pressure. In this way we discover where blockades are located and where the energy flow is weaker. This means that we can discover points of the body where we experience sensations we would never have imagined when touched, very painful or very pleasant, those which refuse the pressure, or others that need a very, very deep pressure in order to feel something.
All these sensations help the patient to create a map of their body and notice which points are strong and which are weak. Because of this we can look for balance in a natural way, changing incorrect postures, feeling in the digestion that the body processes better or not and changing alimentation, learning to release emotions and to control thoughts giving them more clarity.
Shiatsu is not a pill with preview quantities for each type of pain. It is difficult to determine how many sessions are needed in order to gain back the balance and – above all – maintain it. This depends on a variety of factors: the time the person holds an incorrect habit (posture-wise, emotional, nutritional, mental), his/her genetic predisposition, the level of rigidity accumulated in the body, or the quantity of stuck emotions.
When there is a lot of rigidity (physical, mental, emotional or spiritual), it’s necessary to work first on this in order to reach a deeper level of work.
If the imbalance we are confronted with is very recent, the healing will be faster. However, finding the origin of this imbalance to know what created it and make sure it does not repeat itself can be a longer process.