Reponse Ability

Shiatsu is both treatment and training.  When you study shiatsu you’re bound to come across Shizuto Masunaga’s edict that when one makes an energetic diagnosis by palpating the back or abdomen that this action is both treatment and diagnosis.  in shiatsu one shouldn’t separate treatment and diagnosis or knowing.  The receiver should also not separate treatment and knowing.

Perhaps a particular physical or psychological pain has brought you to my praxis but rather than focus completely on whether the treatment relieves the pain or not the receiver, I think, is obliged to explore his own kinestheic sense and increase their own self knowledge.  You may think, “shiatsu and acupuncture are just placebos so of course you rely on a conditioned response from the client.”  Without directly refuting that statement just yet I would say that having the ability to respond to both the treatment and the knowlege it brings, is ancillary to the treatment and is instead part of your job as a client or patient seeking health.

One of the faults of our health (re: insurance) system is that we try to insure not just accidents and catastrophic occurences but also all of our normal maintainance.  If you have car insurance, you’re insured if someone barrels into you as you wait a stop sign, but you’re not insured for every oil change or tire rotation. That would increase your insurance costs exponentially.  Yet in the field of their personal health most people are hard pressd to do any “maintainance” unless their health insurance picks up the tab. Yoga or pilates classes, sure if my insurance will cover it.  Shiatsu or psychotherapy? Only if I can bill it to the collective. I’m not saying this is you, but the existence of particularly in europe, of socialized medicine encourages this type of thinking to a large degree. If you’re a “health nut” like me, and you try to make conscious food choices and exercise regularly you’re not getting any recognition, encouragement or financial incentives for these positive behaviors per se. But if you’re waiting until you’re “ripe for the emergency room” before you act, then the system is designed to kick in and give you the most expensive care imaginable. Penny wise and Pound foolish.

In this interview Dr. Smith tries to make the point that health care is theoretically inexpensive and that it would actually be inexpensive if the market were free and government would get out of the way and let health providers compete.  I think there are many merits to this argument but it presupposes a client and patient base willing to take responsibility, willing to pay for their oil changes out of their own pockets, so to speak.  The day when most everyone has the ability to respond to what their body is saying to them may be coming soon and is one of the advantages to using modalities like meditation and bodywork. If you’re willing to invest more mentally and psychologically in shiatsu than “I hope my knee pain disappears,” then evolving your own health routines are not far down the road.  As you evolve your own singular approach and awareness of who you are in this body, all of the seemingly hot air I spew about nutrition and training can be gradually integrated into your unique approach.  Eventually you may be willing and able to easily compare this surgeon with that and decide if you’re better off heading off to Poland for your dental procedure or Nicaragua for a cancer therapy. But as Stephen Molyneaux alludes to in the above article this mindset has to be in place before disaster hits. You have to buy your the insurance before the flood sweep your house away.

Begin with the simple routines and awarenesses in and of daily life. These don’t have to be shiatsu or yoga or kinesiology if you don’t believe they’re proven or effective. But don’t just wait around doing nothing, eating chips and watching Big Time Wrestling on Saturday mornings either. Don’t be penny wise and (£)pound foolish.


Meditation and Stress Management

Last time I talked about why you just might want to ‘manage’ your stress and unconvincing as that article may have been, my primary point was that shiatsu is only one piece of the puzzle. Regardless of what brings you to shiatsu, whether it is a family crisis that doesn’t allow you to sleep, a running injury or just the ‘need’ for deep relaxation, you will need a strategy that penetrates your life more completely than even the rare luxury of weekly visits to a body-worker could ever bring.

I would also indeed like a life that allows me both financially and logistically to have shiatsu at least once a week but until that time (and even after) what can I do to keep everything on point and humming smoothly? What are you going to do to augment the occasional deep tissue work, Rolfing or Tibetan point holding?

I mentioned that traditionally shiatsu or tuina is part of a continuum of natural approaches to fighting illness that begins with meditation, moves to nutrition, and continues with movement therapy, before arriving at bodywork. When bodywork is not adequate then herbs (oral medicines), acupuncture and surgery follow. Some argue that nutrition is more accessible than meditation and perhaps should be at the top of the list and there are merits to that argument but my response is that the mind is at the root, managing and controlling all approaches to nutrition as well as movement therapy (like dao yin or yoga) so its logical to start there.

Unfortunately when described as I have above, the whole process seems like a prioritized list, a kind of triage. “I shouldn’t look at my nutrition until I’ve exhausted the possibilities of meditation” for example but that’s not what I’m getting at. What I’m saying is that don’t forget the whole, even when a single theme or health issue is begging for your complete attention. It would seem to be simple common sense but it is not natural. What is more natural is for the mind is to give more emphasis to negative stimulus, for the impressions of negative experiences to have greater weight in our consciousness and for us to pay more attention to things that we perceive as a threat than to things that are positive or that bring “hapines.” A conscious and continued effort to balance these aspects of the mind (which incidentally have specific advantages for our survival) with meditation helps us to gain greater perspective and help us to manage our stress and oversee the complete spectrum of our health. ‘Am I getting enough sleep? Why not? How might that effect x, y, or z? Did I drink just a bit too much absinthe etc?’

So gaining meditative stability could be considered a first step in achieving optimum health, perhaps more for its downstream effects than directly, but in the worlds of qi gong, and internal martial arts, intimate familiarity with and control of the mind has direct, palpable effects on energy, health, power and ‘enlightenment.’ But that’s a fish that’s too big to fry in this blog. Happy New Year and stay on point. Peace.