General Guidelines for Giving Shiatsu
The following guidelines are important to understand prior to giving shiatsu. They create a condition or mind-set for the practitioner that encourages an optimum environment in which to produce maximum results.
1. Empty Stomach
It is best to be empty inside when giving shiatsu. This makes the nervous system highly charged and you become more sensitive to vibrations. On the other hand, if the stomach is full, energy is diverted to the digestive vessels an your sensitivity is reduced.
2. Empty Mind
‘Empty mind’ is another classic attitude of ancient, spiritually orientated peoples. It means that we approach each situation and the multiple factors involved as unique. We must drop all our pretensions and concepts so that we can receive the real picture in any given situation. This holds true when giving treatment in that if our minds are full of what meridian is imbalanced, what points need stimulation, or what the receiver’s problem is related to, we can be blocked from seeing the condition that is really there. If our mind is still and we allow the hara to guide us, we will know what needs to be done and how to do it.
To give strong shiatsu, we need three things:
- A simple, broad context
- To work from hara
- An empty mind
3. Never Use Force – Support Only
When we try to force things in life it create the opposite of what we seeks to achieve. For instance, if you coerce someone into eating healthy foods they will eventually go to junk food. If you try to force someone intro a spiritual path they will become more materialistic than before. The unconscious body works by the same mechanism. If we force it in a direction that it does not want to go in, with the intention of stimulating energy or of making it more flexible, we actually produce more tension and constriction.
The body opens up and energy flows when the client becomes relaxed. IN order to do this we must make them feel supported at all levels of our interchange. IN treatment, always position or move the body in a way which allows it to relax and be comfortable. Pressure, stretching and rotating actions should be applied in a gradual, gentle, and firm way. Allow the body to adapt to each procedure according to its own capacity and not to a preconceived idea that you have of how flexible or resilient it should be.
The receiver has generally come for shiatsu because they sense something is imbalanced or stuck in their body, mind and life, Knowing this, it is not necessary to immediately bring attention to the weakness or imbalances that you see. This approach will put the person on guard, making them protective and closed, along with creating difficulty for them in opening up, relaxing, trusting, and letting go. These conditions, although they may be unconscious, then carry over into and inhibit the treatment.
The movement of shiatsu should flow from one stage to the next, creating the treatment as a whole. Continuity in the application of our technique gives the receiver a sense of trust and unification with the practitioner. It allows them to confidently open up and relax. If the practitioner jumps around from one technique to another or from one body area or position to another, the receiver becomes suspicious of their ability. Fragmentation in treatments makes separation and closes off the exchange of energy between the giver and receiver.
5. Use Two Hands
Develop a ‘two hand consciousness’ and apply it as often as possible. This means our attention is directed to the response being felt by each hand at the same time. This approach effects a deep unification of the receiver’s energy system.
6. Natural Environment
Natural cotton clothing allows a smooth interchange of energy between the practitioner and the client. Documented research now shows that unnatural fabrics decrease the capacity of our biological functions, particularly those related to the nervous system. Using natural materials in the environment where you are giving shiatsu encourages maximum movement of energy. Unnatural lighting and artificial articles, along with electrically operated devices, create an environment of move (+) positively charged ions therefore interrupting, blocking or stagnating the normal current of energy flow.
7. Sincere Desire and Clear Intention
This is the most important point of all. If our desire and intention are clear we need very little technical training in order to develop our practice.
Intention is the way in which we internally direct our Ki energy, and desire is what we seek to create. Always remember that the purpose of giving shiatsu is the benefit to the receiver. Our benefit and reward is automatically built in to the opportunity to serve and grow. We should always seek to make the people we work with feel better, lighter, and more relaxed by helping them to create a condition of balance.
Our goal is to strike empathy and compassion for the receiver and all that they feel and experience. Our touch and support is similar to the comfort we give a friend who is feeling low. Just by putting our arm around their shoulder they automatically feel better and lighten up. This support also resembles the touch a mother gives to a crying baby. Just through rocking and holding,the child is soothed and relaxed.
If we give this feeling in shiatsu, the results will be very strong and powerful. We should always strive to make this our basic orientation in treatment as well as in our day-to-day life.
Taken from chapter 6 The Basic Frame Outline in Saul Goodman’s The Book Of Shiatsu: The Healing Art of Finger Pressure, Avery Publishing Group, pages 71-74.