How does shiatsu differ from other forms of bodywork?

Shiatsu was my first contact with the healing arts, this journey began in 2001 when I did a one year basic training course in Brasil with Master Yasui. Since then I have studied various forms of massage and acupuncture but I always come back to shiatsu, at the heart of every session with me the essence of my work is based on the touch of shiatsu.

Nick Duggan

This is a discussion that has been asked and argued since they all coexisted. In my opinion, I put it down to the healer at hand, you can learn all the techniques from the best masters, but if you are not present and connected to the receiver all of that wealth of knowledge and the advanced techniques become just a pretty flower on the table.

Shiatsu is based on the giver putting perpendicular pressure on the receivers body in a methodological and at the same time organic way. This taps the giver into a sea of knowledge. When this pressure is applied we are looking for changes in what could be called the natural flow of things. We are looking for the qi status, in basic, a lack or excess of energy in specific points.

The deeper we study and start connecting this touch sensitivity to the plethora of knowledge within Traditional Oriental Medicine, we are able to use these points of blockage to map out what is happening at the core, for example, somebody who comes to the clinic for lower back pain, we have to find out why they have back pain, is it connected to an injury, posture, diet and are there other issues at hand, eg. Ringing in the ears? Knee pain? A feeling of low energy levels? waking up tired? With all this information we can then cross reference with the micro systems of the body, the body being a macro system and parts of the body the micro, eg, the ears, eyes, tongue, hands, feet, etc. All of these micro systems have a map of the entire body (macro system).

Back to the original question, how it differs?

It could be said, the connection to this inner world is one of the key differences. The techniques used are secondary, eg. Swedish massage uses more friction, utilising a cream/oil to help this happen. Ayurvedic massage uses oils and powders to balance the doshas, etc. The list can go on and on and in my opinion ,none are BETTER than the other, it is all down to the givers ability to connect with what cannot be seen and make changes there, this can be done by a child who has the right intension, for some things 🙂

The reason I have connected so deeply to shiatsu is because of its technique of applying pressure and measuring what is happening under this touch, those who work with shiatsu or who have had a session with an experienced shiatsu therapist will tell you, there is a huge difference in the experience when comparing it to other forms of bodywork. If you have never tried shiatsu, TRY IT 🙂

One of the keys that have helped the evolution of my work is the practice of qigong and its ability to help tap into an outside energy field at will. This isn’t something that is done only by ancient masters, we all have the ability to do it, we are born with this ability and loose it along the way from not engaging in it. The practice of qigong, when learned from a good teacher, can put you closer to this connection with primarily yourself then others, an intense sense of empathy can be found without endangering your space.

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