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Literally translated from the Japanese it means finger pressure. Shiatsu considers the body as a whole and looks at re-balancing energetic patterns that stem from dis-ease or dis-harmony. It is a pressure massage aimed at re-balancing the flow of the energy found just beneath the skin and also deeper in the body. It is done through clothing and the depth depends on the response of the recipient's body to open to the process and receive the Shiatsu offered, like a conversation where both are actively involved in communicating with each other. The pressure can vary from an almost hands off lightness to a deep physical penetration.

Much of the re-balancing of the energy works along the same network of meridians or channels that acupuncture treats. These acupuncture channels have interconnecting pathways that reach down to the organs, as well as creating a web that covers the whole body.

As the body is treated as a whole by working on one level you can influence all the other levels as none exists in isolation. Thus by treating the physical you can work on the mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of the disharmonies in addition to the physical.

The practitioner offering Shiatsu is often like a witness, a guide and assistant helping the receiver return to source to regain connection to him/herself and the greater whole. There is an acknowledgement of how things are and a belief that there is no duality, only change. Shiatsu supports the body's systems with this dynamic life-process. Although Shiatsu is rooted in the pre-history of Chinese Medicine, the origins of acupuncture and oriental medicine in general, Shiatsu is in fact only a relatively recent addition to the therapies to emerge from the east. It started in Japan at the beginning of the last century, evolving from Anma, a Chinese massage system operated by blind practitioners coupled with acupuncture theory. It was made much more popular by Masunaga Sensei in the sixties as he explored its connection with the psychological aspects of disharmony or dis-ease and looked beyond the purely physical cause and effect to the bodymind as a whole functioning organism.

In the end we are all responsible for our own health - and unhealth - and we can actively participate in our growth to wholeness. Shiatsu, so much more than just finger pressure, can be a major positive support in this process.


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