Balancing Act: The Ki to Shiatsu

Written by Shandoah Goldman

Shiatsu is a method of Bodywork, brought to us from Japan which aims at creating balance by regulating the bodies flow of energy. Over the past 15 years I have brought my experience as a dancer to the practice, developing a style of Shiatsu which is focused on finding the maximum amount of movement within the body. While many forms of massage target the anatomical structure of the body, the invisible streams of energy are profoundly present as well and are of equal importance. This holistic incorporation of our structure coupled with our inner workings is what I experience to be balance.

I used to think that balance was an achievable fixed state like eating a meal and never being hungry again or buying a fabulous pair of shoes and then never wanting another, yet we all know we have to eat another meal and if you are like me, buy another pair of shoes.

My practice has taught me that balance is constant change, thus a constant practice. The practice of balance becomes attractive as it is flexible rather than rigid. Like zen, which we also borrow from wise Japan, we notice that while meditating once may have a temporary effect on our state of balance, we soon notice we have to do it again. Hmmm, that's annoying. One healthy meal won't suffice? What one non-healthy meal will do however, is send some signals for the need to re-balance and bring us back to a state of well being. It's actually very simple because we know what we personally need, yet listening to that knowing is the challenge -- sometimes its not until we have eaten too much sugar, thus gained to much weight, that we stop and make a change. So the game is the to stay within the middle ground, rather than letting the pendulum swing too far too one side. The body is really well designed for knowing how to balance itself, yet the brain is also really well designed to ignore this knowledge. Going to one extreme before coming back to balance is eventually exhausting to the body.

So right now at the heart of summer if your feeling sluggish, it is the perfect time to find what will bring about the most balance for you. If you get very hot in your upper body, red face, flushed, a simple way to balance this heat is to work on the feet for example. We see this in hot cultures such as Italy and Spain where they honor the siesta. Instead of running for the AC they actually take a break to rest during the hottest part of the day... it makes sense. We can begin to tailor our routines to meet the 'requests' of our surroundings, which means that while eating cooling fruits serve to balance us in the hot summer months, they might not be beneficial in the winter even though we now have access to any food we desire all year round shipped from hotter climates. Thus a good structure is to eat whats in season where we live, thus will bring about the most balance in our internal 'climates.'

You are probably drawn more to one season then another. This preference and the way our body thrives depending on the temperature gives us a lot of information as to our present state of balance. The optimal goal being the ease your body creates while under-going change. Where there is movement there is flow, and where there is flow, there is balance. Think of a river. If there is a dam the water gets stagnant, but if someone comes along and releases the dam then the water gushes even fuller than before, creating an equal distribution of water. In the case of our body, the hand-on manipulation of Shiatsu frees these internal rivers, or energy pathways. You can try a little experiment right now. squeeze the 'web' between your index finger and thumb for about 10 seconds and then release. You may have noticed an instant release of tension in your whole arm. This quickening of movement is so essential in maintaining internal movement thus ease in the entire anatomy of the body.

Tuning in to what brings greater balance for you as well as incorporating Shiatsu into your wellness routine, will increase your bodies natural impulse to 'hover' around the sweet blend of the extremes; Yin & Yang.

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