Shiatsu

THE SHIATSU SOIRÉE A Gathering For Imagining

A soirée is defined as “an evening party or gathering, typically in a private home, for conversation or music.” It comes from the French word, soir, meaning evening.

black & white photo of a soirée George Sand, noted novelist and playwright of the mid-1800s, famously hosted many of these in her salon outside of Paris. These gatherings offered a place for many renowned artists of the day to meet and hang out. George Sand, herself, often performed her plays there. Chopin would play new music he was composing. Talented artists of all genres would share their passions and their works together,  stimulating the artistic sensibilities in each other. If you were an accomplished or aspiring artist, you did everything in your power to be there!

So . . . What About a SHIATSU SOIRÉE?

I would love to revive this atmosphere for shiatsu practitioners and students. After all, we are also artists of a sort – the healing arts sort. We have experiences, insights and questions that we want to share and discuss. But the opportunity to do so does not easily find the right set of circumstances in the treatment room, classroom, or in everyday conversation. So . . . let’s have a soirée!

a color painting of a soiréeAlthough my home is by no means a large salon with a stage and piano, my dining table sits eight, and the living room several more. I am eager to hear what doing shiatsu has stirred up for you in your practice and in your heart and soul. And I’m happy to answer questions and tell stories about Masunaga and Kishi, about what I learned from them, and am still learning.

I also love the idea of having a healing circle at the end of each soirée. The purpose could vary from time to time. One evening it might be for healing each other. Another might be for sending healing to a group (like the residents of Puerto Rico after the devastation of their island). Or, it could be for a larger purpose, like our Mother Earth. I will gladly contribute what I know about healings of this nature, and volunteer to lead the circle.

What You Get Out Of It

elephants sharing affectionEveryone who took part in previous soirées remarked that, when we come together, something beautiful happens. Something encouraging. Nurturing. And sustaining. Something we offer each other that we can take home and cherish.

 

SOME QUOTES THAT INSPIRE ME TO RESTART THE SHIATSU SOIRÉES WITH THE ADDED HEALING CIRCLES:

Dalai Lama & GandhiYou may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing, there will be no result. Mahatma Gandhi

If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito. The 14th Dalai Lama

 

Helen Keller

 

Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.  Helen Keller

 

 

 

I hope they inspire you, too. I would love to see you at the next Shiatsu Soirée!

MERIDIAN ANATOMY: FINDING MERIDIANS AND POINTS BY TOUCH

Anatomy can actually be very helpful in locating meridians. Do you sometimes wish you knew for sure if you are really on the meridians? Do you wish you felt secure enough in your hand’s sensitivity to trust that you found the point? Do you wish there was another way to learn meridian and point locations besides memorizing anatomical landmarks?

While memorizing may not be much fun for some people (I am among them), anatomy, on the other hand, is really cool. After all, it is what gives the defining shape to every species on our planet – and the defining shape of every individual within their species. Pretty awesome!

That said, I do not love memorizing. I love knowing, but memorizing can sometimes get in the way of knowing. What I really crave is understanding. If I am considering the movement of a foot, I want to know that it can swing from side to side. I want to know it can point up and down. If I am doing a shiatsu treatment on the foot, it is important to understand that that movement comes from the ankle. I should also understand how the ankle works and what its purpose is.

The same is true of the meridians. I may have received a meridian diagnosis of Large Intestine. I may, therefore, be considering the elimination function or the emotional process of grieving. It is important to understand the purpose of the Large Intestine meridian if I want to treat it. And, I need to know exactly where it is in order to address it. Meridian location is important.

Blending Meridian Diagnosis And Location With Client Goals

If my client wants to feel more spring in his step, it helps to know a few things:

  • That I will have to work on the ankle, more than on the foot
  • Where the ankle is and  how to move it
  • With his meridian diagnosis as Large Intestine, where the LI extension is located in his foot 
  • How I can use the extension to move his ankle

But I don’t particularly have to remember that the movements I will use are called dorsiflexion and eversion [though it will probably impress my client if I do :-)]. I can do an effective treatment, regardless. I DO have to find the foot, the ankle and the LI meridian, at the very least.

One of the things I found most disconcerting about learning meridian locations was that the texts did not always agree with what my Japanese teachers had shown me. Fortunately for me, I never doubted my teachers. I never thought I had to change my thinking about where the meridian “really” was. My faith in them allowed me to continue working “true” to the teachings. I remained open to figuring out why the texts disagreed.

Why Meridian Anatomy Varies

It was not until I taught in acupuncture colleges that I discovered why. What I found out was that the anatomical descriptions given in acupuncture texts for locating points did not include the angle of needle insertion. Angle of insertion is taught in the classroom. It is more of a “lab” course – and it makes a huge difference.

I realized that:

  • Although the point of the needle may touch the outside of the skin when it starts out (which is where the textbook indicates), it often ends up in quite a different area inside the body once the insertion is complete
  • It might be impossible for my hand/thumb/finger to start out where the text indicates, and end up where the needle ends up
  • If I started from a slightly different place with a different angle, I would end up in the same place as the needle did – the right place, the place where the energy gets stimulated.

“Oh!” I thought. “That’s why my teachers said the meridian was here instead of there!”

So when I teach meridian location, I like to use bony landmarks, especially at joints. They are SO helpful in delineating a meridian pathway. And I will use every anatomical name I remember. It is a great refresher for students to hear that language. However, I may not remember some of the anatomical language. I may not remember the name of the stylus or head or process [of a bone] that I am touching. When that happens, I may ask the class what it is called . . . because it is a good refresher for me to hear that language. 😀

But what’s more important is that I feel the meridian. That I know it. And the more I feel and know it, the better I understand it. And that’s what I like to pass along to students. I want to help them feel it. I want them to have confidence that they are in a meridian because they recognize the feel of it. That offers the opportunity to be aware of when they lose that feeling. It’s just like walking on a trail in the forest reserve. You’ve got your map, and you could swear you were following it. But you know you must have missed something because you sense that the sun would be in a different place if you were walking in the right direction. That understanding allows you to re-orient and right your course.

From my point of view, I presume the texts may be right for points and needles, but not necessarily for meridians and hands. Not to mention that exact anatomical descriptions for point locations differ slightly from textbook to textbook. Or that one person’s meridian may vary slightly in location from another’s.

If that should happen, don’t feel confused. It ‘s no more bothersome than one person’s forehead being higher or lower than another’s. It’s still in the right place so you can still locate it. If you try to touch the forehead and you get eyes, you know you just have to move up a little . . . because you felt it! That’s what I like to teach – what it feels like. If it doesn’t feel like it’s supposed to, you just change your angle or move your finger a little, and you’re back on it.

What you feel is what makes the difference in a shiatsu treatment. It’s how you get a good effect and longer lasting results for your clients.

How Shiatsu Can Positively Enhance Your Life About Shiatsu & A Case Study Explored

lindy1Shiatsu, meaning “finger pressure,” is the practice of applying thumbs, fingers, palms or feet to pressure points, or meridians, as they’re called in ancient Asian medicine. Aside from the pressing, this type of treatment also focuses on stretching limbs and opening joints. As a type of healing therapy, it produces an effect of deep relaxation, increases energy levels and brings a state of balance to the body, among many other things. As several clients say, it helps them feel more “grounded, centered and self-aware.”

Shiatsu is a practice based on the traditions of ancient Asian medicine. The theory behind Shiatsu is that our bodies are made up of energy, called Qi, and this energy can get blocked and cause suffering within the body and mind. Shiatsu helps to remove blockages by clearing channels and acupoints, which balances the Qi and eases the body and mind. When Qi is balanced, healing occurs. The applied pressure stimulates both the nervous and immune systems, providing relief, while also restoring the circulatory system, improving blood flow.

lindy2A current client, named Christina G., has been receiving Shiatsu for approximately 18 months, at a rate of once every two to four weeks. At the start of her treatments, Christina was seeking the following:

  • Regularity in her menstrual cycle,
  • An increase in energy and stamina,
  • A decrease in daily anxiety and stress, and
  • An improved awareness and connection to her intuition.

Here are the results she experienced over the course of the first few months working together and then ongoing over the last 18 months:

  • Menstrual Cycle: Christina experienced better regularity and less blood clotting in the first few months of treatment. Within four months, she experienced a brighter, healthier color of blood and better flow in general, which she hadn’t experienced in years.
  • Energy and Stamina: Christina experienced more energy immediately following each treatment along with a “sense of calm and strength” that would endure for several days following treatment. In conjunction with her bi-weekly meditation and daily supplementation, she has experienced an increase in energy and stamina over the last 18 months and “it continues to improve everyday.”
  • Anxiety and Stress: Within the first few treatments, Christina experienced less anxiety and stress in her daily life. She also worked to manage her anxiety and stress on her own based on suggested exercises and regular reassessments, including identifying areas for
  • Intuition: After the first year of treatment, Christina wanted to connect to and be more aware of her intuition. In each session we reviewed progress she made, and feedback in the form of exercises was given for further improvement. She now says she “feels more connected to her intuition and is now able to look inside for answers to questions and for direction.”

lindy6Christina G. experienced the benefits of Shiatsu in every area that she was seeking assistance and vitality. It is through client experiences like these that Shiatsu proves time and time again to be a viable and effective treatment for those experiencing many types of mental or physical suffering. What once began as a treatment for simple muscular tension when it was first introduced to Western medicine has become something much more integrative. The benefits of Shiatsu have become more apparent, and it is now used for treating a variety of ailments and issues. These include the following:

  • Overall Weakness & Fatigue: Shiatsu can restore and maintain the body’s energy, helping those who suffer from overall weakness and fatigue.
  • Muscle Pain and Rheumatoid Arthritis: Shiatsu is frequently used to alleviate the muscle and joint pain associated with arthritis.
  • Injury Recovery: Shiatsu can aid in the recovery from sprains, fractures and other injuries.
  • Migraine Headaches: Shiatsu helps relieve headaches and migraines by relaxing the body and increasing blood flow and circulation throughout.
  • A Stiff Neck & Back: Shiatsu can reduce problems with the neck, shoulders and back, including sciatica.
  • Stress: Shiatsu can do wonders for a body and mind that is stressed. It can reduce stress and tension as well as anxiety and depression.
  • Reproductive Issues: Shiatsu can be used to aid women during their monthly cycles, especially to alleviate menstrual cramps and regulate blood flow.
  • Pregnancy: Shiatsu has been known to help women in labor and also to help babies turn in the womb. It can also help ease morning sickness and swelling.
  • Circulatory System: Shiatsu can help to improve circulation throughout the body, improving blood flow.
  • Digestive Disorders: By allowing food to digest more easily and aid in the elimination of waste, Shiatsu can benefit and improve your digestive system.
  • Skin: Shiatsu can stimulate circulation in the soft tissues of the skin, helping to keep skin soft and moist. This can in turn can give the skin a glow and prevent wrinkling.
  • Immune Support: Shiatsu can reduce the severity and frequency of coughs and colds, along with other sinus and respiratory problems.
  • Combines with other treatments: Shiatsu works well with other treatments like acupuncture, chiropractic, physical therapy, chemotherapy, herbs and supplements.

lindy4A shiatsu treatment can last anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour. It can be administered on a padded mat on the floor or on a massage table. Typically, the treatment begins with gentle stretching and pressing to relax the muscles and stimulate the flow of energy. Depending on the needs of the person receiving the massage, it can be very gentle and calming or used with high pressure. However, it should never be painful. For more information regarding Shiatsu and to receive a treatment, contact Lindy Ferrigno here.

MORE ABOUT SHIATSU

Shiatsu, a traditional healing art from Japan, has its roots in the ancient wisdom and principles of Chinese medicine. Shiatsu is often called“acupuncture without needles.”  “Shi” means finger and “atsu”means pressure. 

The shiatsu specialist uses thumb and finger pressure to stimulate the entire meridian pathway, rather than inserting needles into a few specific points along the channel.  The benefits include restoring vitality and healthy function to your body, and harmony and clarity to your mind. 

Clients are fully clothed during treatment.  Shiatsu is non-invasive and profoundly effective for a range of common complaints, injuries and illnesses.

A BRIEF HISTORY

Shiatsu is based on the same system as acupuncture, but with shiatsu, no needles are used.  Chinese medicine dates from the 1st century B.C.E. with the oldest written medical text still in existence –  The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine.  This text documents the sphere of bodywork in Asian medicine and states that “finger pressure is used to promote digestive function and restore vigor.”  Asian medicine was brought to Japan by a Buddhist priest, Gan Jin Osho, in 552 C.E.

In Japan, it is believed to this day that no instrument will ever surpass the precision and sensitivity of the human hand for assessing energy and being able to determine the condition of a person’s health.  For this reason, examination and diagnosis by palpation has been developed to an extraordinary degree in Japan. 

The Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare defines shiatsu therapy as “a form of manipulation administered by the thumbs, fingers and palms, without the use of any instrument, mechanical or otherwise, to apply pressure to the human skin, correct internal malfunctioning, promote and maintain health, and treat specific diseases.”  The ministry lists over 200 health concerns for which shiatsu is considered a primary treatment. In the United States, the National Institute of Health (NIH) has come to concur.  The research on acupuncture and massage shows agreement. 

WHAT SHIATSU OFFERS

Shiatsu addresses a wide variety of complaints.  Some of the benefits are:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Pain relief from backache, headache, muscle tension or injury
  • Increased mobility and flexibility
  • Improved digestion
  • Better sleep
  • Clearer mind

Shiatsu is used to assist recovery from mild to severe injuries from accidents or sports. Shiatsu relieves pain due to backache, headache, arthritis, and sore muscles caused by too much or too little exercise or repetitive motion. Shiatsu boosts the immune system and is effective in the treatment of fatigue, low energy, insomnia and quality of sleep.

Shiatsu has proven successful in treating digestive complaints such as heartburn, constipation, abdominal discomfort and general sluggishness. Shiatsu is commonly used for women’s health, menstrual and menopausal complaints,and  all stages of pregnancy, including fertility and birthing.

Shiatsu is very helpful for respiratory problems such as shortness of breath, asthma, allergies, and sinuses. Shiatsu combines successfully with other forms of treatment.  It strengthens and increases the actions of acupuncture and naturopathy and aids the digestion and absorption of herbs.  It combines very well with chiropractic in two ways:  if received beforehand, it makes manipulations easier; if afterwards, it helps keep adjustments longer. 

Clients report that Shiatsu enhances personal and spiritual development.  They experience feeling grounded and centered and having a heightened awareness of being in the body.  They comment on the added strength, stability and awareness they gain as an extra advantage for their personal and spiritual development. Shiatsu relaxes the mind and strengthens the body.  It promotes health and helps create a positive outlook on life.  It empowers a grounded assessment and interpretation of life’s events, and the ability to respond from the heart. 

WHEN TO SEEK TREATMENT

You can seek out shiatsu treatments for many diverse reasons. You may want to remedy the physical symptoms of acute or chronic pain and discomfort.  You may need some relief from stress, anxiety or tension.  Perhaps you are not really sick but you don’t feel quite up to par. Maybe your brain is a bit “foggy” and you would like to have better clarity and focus or feel more grounded. You could be facing the “empty nest” and need a stronger sense of self and of purpose. 

Shiatsu has proven effective for treating a variety of mild to severe complaints in categories such as:

Injury –  auto accidents, sports injuries, repetitive motion
Pain – backache, headache, muscle tension, joint pain, chronic pain, neck & shoulders, low back & hips

Digestion – heartburn, constipation/sluggishness, bloating,loose stool/diarrhea
Immune System – fatigue, low energy, sleep problems, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome
Respiratory – allergies, sinusitis, asthma, shortness of breath
Women’s Health – menstrual, menopausal, pregnancy, fertility

Shiatsu also combines successfully with other forms of treatment:

Acupuncture – integrates treatment, assists digestion of herbs
Naturopathy – helps absorb remedies, stimulates detoxification
Chiropractic – makes manipulations easier, sustains adjustments longer

Shiatsu enhances personal and spiritual development. Clients report:
~ Increased vitality and vigor
~ Feeling grounded and centered
~ Awareness of “being in the body”
~ Tuning in to their inner knowing
~ Developing a desire to connect with Spirit
BLUEPRINT OF A SHIATSU SESSION
Before the first treatment I talk with you about your needs and goals and email you some basic information and directions to the office.  When you arrive you fill out a brief health history form, and I will probably have a few more questions based on the information you provide.  When that is complete, you move into the treatment room and change into loose, comfortable clothing.  You lie on the table fully clothed and I come in.
I apply palms, fingers and thumbs to the entire meridian system (the lines you see on an acupuncture chart that connect the points).  I work through the clothing, so no oils or lotions are used.
  • The amount of pressure can vary from gentle to firm, depending on your needs and comfort
  • A session lasts approximately 45-60 minutes, determined by the condition of your health at the time of treatment
  • Your whole body is addressed, even if your only reason for treatment is a stiff neck (the meridians that treat a stiff neck will run from head to foot)
  • After the treatment, you typically feel very calm, relaxed and clear-headed
  • Your complaints will often be either gone, or at least noticeably reduced
  • The results tend to last longer than a regular massage for most people. There is a cumulative effect after  several treatments that lasts even longer – for some clients, as long as months; a few have even said years

In traditional Asian medicine a typical course of Shiatsu treatment for one complaint begins with 10 sessions, 30-50 minutes each, one to three times a week.  These days, in America, we usually see clients less frequently – once a week, once a month, or anything in between.  It depends on the desired results, the severity of the condition, and whether the condition is acute or chronic.  For a strong and healthy person with little or no stress in life, quarterly treatments are recommended at the change of seasons.

We evaluate the effectiveness of treatments every two or three sessions to determine whether the best strategy is to continue with the treatment plan, refine or modify it, or, if resolved, conclude the course of treatment. One fact to keep in mind is that all forms of natural medicine show best results with a cumulative build up. To determine how Shiatsu will work for you, consider an initial series of three consecutive weekly treatments to get a sense of its cumulative effect.

WHAT I PROVIDE AS A SPECIALIST

Since 1975, I have trained extensively with Shiatsu masters, European osteopaths, Asian acupuncturists, American chiropractors and shamanic healers from five cultures.  These, combined with many years of treatment experience, form my personal technique.  I love my work! 

What I bring to the table:

  • I have 35+ yrs of experience treating everything from stress and fatigue to backache and headache, from digestion and PMS to accidents and injuries, from depression and insomnia to allergies and sinuses
  • I listen intently to what you say as well as to what your body tells me
  • I give specific attention to your areas of complaint and pay attention to any additional areas of disharmony
  • I track your progress, answer your questions, and help you connect the dots when you can’t make sense of what is going on in your body
  • I will always tell you when I think a different treatment will help you, and I will recommend someone whose skills and integrity I trust
My wish for you is that you be happy and healthy!

SHIATSU VS. MASSAGE

For 15 years I lived in the Pacific Northwest where alternative/complementary medicine is used as commonly as conventional medicine.  Doctors there converse freely with acupuncturists, chiropractors, shiatsu specialists, etc. and are happy to coordinate care with such practitioners for the benefit of their patients.  They often referred their patients to me as part of their treatment plan.  Insurance companies on the West Coast and the Pacific Northwest cover the whole range of alternative therapies from bodywork to naturopathy to acupuncture and chiropractic.  When I moved back East and settled in the Mid-Atlantic, I was surprised to discover how rare it was to find that type of cooperation and coordination here.  I also found that a lot of people had never even heard of shiatsu, let alone used it.  In the time since I move here eight years ago, many more people in this town have heard about it but they still are not sure what shiatsu is and they often ask me how it differs from massage.   I thought it might be helpful to shed a little light on that question.  And, because people are often reluctant to try something new and unknown, I’ve added a little guidance on how to choose a bodyworker, regardless of the modality.

There are many different types of massage and bodywork.  Two of the most commonly practiced are Swedish massage and Shiatsu.  Massage is done with oils or lotions directly on the skin.  The practitioner uses palms, fingers and forearms in a horizontal plane along the main part of the muscles.  Massage is geared toward the skeletal muscles and the circulation of blood back to the heart.

Shiatsu is an acupressure technique that is often called “acupuncture without needles.”   The practitioner uses palms, fingers and thumbs in a vertical plane to stimulate the life force (qi) throughout the entire body. Shiatsu is geared at targeting your area of concern and harmonizing it with all your body’s functions and systems so that the effect is integrated and lasts longer.  It concentrates at the level of the nervous system to rejuvenate and enhance the:

  • Mobility, strength and flexibility of your joints
  • Circulation from your heart to all your cells, organs and muscles
  • Proper operation of your central nervous system  (brain, reflexes, etc.)
  • Harmonious coordination of your organ functions

Typically:

  • Your pain will decrease;
  • Your joints will have better range of motion with less discomfort;
  • You will recover faster from injury or surgery;
  • Your stamina will increase;
  • You will sleep better,
  • You will digest better, and
  • Enjoy more peace of mind.

Many of the written descriptions of the various types of massage and bodywork sound so similar that it is hard to tell the difference between them.   How can you know which kind of bodywork will be the best for you?

There are several things to consider. Are you looking for relief from your neck and shoulder tension?  Do you want to calm your mind and sleep better?  Is your back pain beginning to get in the way of everyday activities?  Are you suffering from indigestion, allergies, headaches, menstrual discomfort?  Most types of bodywork address the muscle tension that results in tight neck and shoulders and/or back pain.  Depending on your individual response to treatment, you may favor lighter or deeper pressure.  Be sure to let your practitioner know if you have a preference.

You will also want to consider the training, skill, experience, and [most importantly] the goals of the practitioner who will perform the treatment.  Some practitioners are focused on the physical complaints.  Some are oriented toward the subtle energy of the body.  Still others like to address any suppressed emotions that tend to get jammed up in the various tissues (there should be additional training for this orientation).  There are practitioners who feel more comfortable concentrating on science and technique, while others prefer the art and flow, adjusting their technique according to intuition.  Most bodyworkers will practice some combination of art and science in various degrees and percentages.  Pressure can vary from a very light touch to medium to deep (or very deep) work, and a few practitioners have enough skill, talent, experience and intuition to use the whole range appropriately for the client’s needs and goals.

Referral by a healthcare provider or friend is always a good way to find the right person.  Even then, don’t be afraid to ask questions when you make your first contact, whether by phone or email.  In addition to the areas mentioned above, you might want to find out why most of their clients come to see them.  This may give you an idea of what they are used to treating in their practice.  You can also ask how much experience they have with your particular reason for seeking them out.  I know that if I were the one looking for a practitioner, I would not rely on an email for the first contact.  I would want to speak with them personally to get a sense of who they are.  I would want to feel confident about their professionalism and have the sense that we would “get along,” so to speak.  I would want to feel that the person understands me when I convey my needs and concerns.  Feeling comfortable, confident and compatible with your bodyworker can be the pivotal factor that turns a “good massage” into a great one.