Originally published in Huffington Post

Ancient Therapies for Modern Times

Shiatsu Massage - Energetische Krperarbeit

 

Jual opened the door wearing therapist white and I charged through in corporate black, briskly introduced myself and apologised for being late – the traffic was this, my meeting was that. I quickly changed into my yoga pants and tank and gratefully flopped down on the futon on the floor – arms and legs spread like a starfish. I willed my heart to slow down.

After a series of medical history questions and enquiry into present state of life and work, Jual put down her clipboard and we both fell silent. Quietly, with eyes closed, Jual began to softly palpate my stomach – the hara (the body’s energy center in Chinese Medicine) – and jot down a note or two as she continued to ‘read’ my body and come to her diagnosis. I closed my eyes too and let myself drift as she began her gentle manipulations with soft pressure. She used fingers, elbows or knees on specific spots or meridian lines along my body. It was not a time for questions but quiet release into an hour of calm and tranquility.

That was the beginning of a fifteen-year relationship that only ended when I left Canada and moved to Greece.I had discovered Shiatsu some years before and since that time, Shiatsu has been a mainstay of my life and, decades later, I attribute my health and wellbeing to both Shiatsu’s therapeutic and preventive health benefits.

When I moved to Greece, my mission was to find a registered Shiatsu practitioner to keep up regular treatments. My good fortune was to find Antigoni Tseggeli right here on our island of Aegina. Antigoni is a skilled practitioner and sees clients in Athens as well as Aegina. She is now president of the Hellenic Shiatsu Society and is dedicated to teaching and her own continuing professional development. As president, she is enthusiastic to bring internationally eminent instructors to Greece and organises CPD (Continuous Professional Development) for the members of HSS. Antigoni believes that practitioners with a high level of Shiatsu skill and experience along with a well-informed public about the therapy and its benefits can create a safe environment and a trustful relationship between client and qualified practitioner.

The aim of Shiatsu is to stimulate and support the processes of natural self-healing, wellbeing and personal growth, and to maintain health through balancing the energetic system of an individual. The method uses the application of pressure and of energetic and physical touch to the body’s energy channels and points in order to balance the circulation of the body’s energy known as Qi or Chi. The wellbeing of a person as a unity of Body Mind and Spirit depends on the harmonic flow of this energy. Shiatsu treatment is a form of communication through Touch based on techniques of energetic (Qi-chi) evaluation and bodywork manipulations. Each person is unique and each session responds to the present need of the client with the view to long-term health goals.

Meridian system chart of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). Isolated vector illustration on black background.

Shiatsu is a Japanese method based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Its heritage is long with various branches that have evolved over time. As Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) has become mainstream, North America and Europe have embraced these ancient therapeutic modalities and perhaps a more fitting description of these therapies would be integrative rather than alternative or complementary as befits their efficacy and growing acceptance to support traditional Western medicine.

Antigoni Tseggeli clarifies that Shiatsu is a natural “complementary” bodywork therapy in that it works together with medical indications as needed for each individual. It helps the body system to recover, reinforces the flow of the vital energy of the body and harmonises the nervous system. It stimulates the energy systems of the body and, in turn, the physical expression of energy.

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Shiatsu is used for the alleviation of symptoms and the stimulation of the natural healing tendency of the body in situations as diverse as easing the effects of chemotherapy for cancer patients, stimulating cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients and successfully generating response in autistic children.

Antigoni is encouraged by the growing number of open-minded physicians willing to confer with natural therapists for optimum patient experience. With the agreement, timing and permission of the attending surgeon, she worked with one client before and after open-heart surgery to ease the stresses of surgery and speed recovery. Shiatsu supports the body through acute as well as chronic conditions to relieve symptoms and aid in revitalisation. Check the Facebook Page: Shiatsu in Hospitals for more information.

My own experience during my husband’s lengthy illness was to have open communication with the doctors. The result was to bring therapists into the hospital and continue treatments at home. Treatments, I might add, for both patient and caregiver to alleviate stress and aid in more active presence during recovery or in my case through the passing of a loved one.

Dr. Oz makes a most compelling case for this integration and the responsibility of doctors not to endorse but to evaluate alternative therapies and their integration with allopathic medicine to create “one medicine” – a global medicine – that recognises the contribution of both natural and technical practices. He also stresses that patients share their natural therapy practices with their physicians so that there are no cross purposes. This will also engender greater understanding and acceptance in the long run.

 

Research and many independent studies are breaking down the barriers between allopathic medicine and natural therapies and Shiatsu is leading in this. In the interest of client safety and regulation, federations assure compliance with proper standards and professional practices, ethics and responsibility. This is welcome and necessary. In the past, a great flood of ‘natural’ and ‘energy’ therapies swept over an uninformed and vulnerable public.

Therapies like acupuncture and shiatsu are steeped in long history and demand very specific and developed practical and intuitive skills. Anyone looking to take advantage of these preventive and remedial therapies must absolutely look for a practitioner who is a member of one of the professional federations. Too often these terms are tossed in with massage therapy creating confusion. Always ask questions about training and qualifications!

Whether you enjoy your shiatsu treatment in a clinic or in the home therapy room of the practitioner, the professionalism is the same and you can be confident that you are about to embark on the most rewarding journey toward your natural ability for self-healing and wellbeing.

See if you can find a practitioner near you and experience Shiatsu for yourself and please share this article with those you care about. I also welcome your comments and experiences.

To your heath!

mh

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