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Origins

The Zen Aspect of Zen Shiatsu – “a meditation in action” – has its beginning in the ancient philosophies of Buddhism, the training through meditation to be a monk. With today’s awareness and influences on culture, “Zen”, has drifted from its early orientation, and infiltrated societies with a fundamental purpose of achieving total human enlightenment through the discovery of one’s self.

The Shiatsu aspect has ancient origins in the philosophies of a Japanese manipulative therapy known as anma. Anma methods described in early texts indicate diagnosis and treatment. However, in the later years anma was known to be performed specifically by the blind, usually for pleasure. As governmental regulations took form, and professional therapists wanted to make a distinction between pleasure and medical treatment, the term “Shiatsu” was born.

Zen Shiatsu as we know it today was established by Shizuto Masunaga in Japan. He brought it back to its roots in traditional Chinese medicine.

How Does It Work

Eastern philosophy is based on the premise that all life occurs within the circle of nature – a single unified system with polar and complementary aspects known as Yin and Yang. These energetic elements reside in the “nature” of the human body, as well, and when they are in balance, life is harmonious and flourishes. When their balance is upset by “blockages”, disharmony occurs in the form of various discomforts like muscular pain, digestive upsets, poor sleep, emotional upheaval, stress and so on.

These life-giving energetic elements in the body are known as Qi, and the concept of Qi is absolutely at the heart of Oriental medicine. Qi maintains and nourishes our physical bodies as well as our minds. When our bodies are healthy, we say our Qi is balanced and flowing freely. In Shiatsu, therapists are trained to feel the Qi with their hands, to find imbalanced areas in the body, appropriately stimulate the imbalanced Qi meridians, and bring the flow of Qi back into balance.

To learn more:

  • Masunaga, Shizuto, Zen Shiatsu How to Harmonize Yin and Yang for Better Health, Japan Publications, 1977, or, Redwing Books, 1999
  • www.Ohashi.com


Benefits

Zen Shiatsu aims to strengthen (increase) the flow of Qi in the body, while simultaneously generating a smoother flow of this energy throughout the body, in an effort to restore and establish a relative state of balance, thus creating a sense of vitality and well being. It works directly to align bone structure, calm the autonomic nervous system – increasing resistance to stress – and supports proper internal organ functioning. In addition, it helps with blood and lymph circulation, and improves muscle function.

Shiatsu benefits those interested in maintaining an optimal state of health, and those with a wide variety of ailments, such as muscle and back pain, neck and shoulder pain, headaches, depression, fatigue, constipation, respiratory problems, and more.

Precautions

In the past, Shiatsu was taught with Contraindications (conditions that are not helped or may be aggravated further). However, today there are many who are stepping beyond these boundaries and finding wonderful benefits in the Zen Shiatsu healing process. For your information, the contraindications listed are: acute illness such as acute fever or insulin shock, malignant tumor, cancer, advanced internal organ disease (nephritis, kidney failure, respiratory failure, etc.). 

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