"Balance"? Yeah, So What?
(Otherwise known as, "My head hurts, so why the heck are you pressing on my foot?")
A very, VERY general definition of shiatsu goes something like this:
"Shiatsu, a Japanese word that literally means 'finger pressure', is a modality in which the practitioner uses pressure on the receiver's body in order to restore balance."
Doesn't this just so make you want to run right out and get a shiatsu treatment?
Don't you wake up in the morning after a fitful night of sleep, feeling groggy and with a crick in your neck, and think to yourself, 'Wow, I could really use to have my balance restored today'....?
When finding yourself taken to bed with insane menstrual cramps, teetering on the edge of a self-induced hysterectomy, aren't you wishing to god someone would come and just balance your energy???
Hmmm, I'm guessing no. (Okay, so some people actually do, and I have gotten those phone calls...)
Am I implying that a balance of chi flow in the meridians isn't a good thing to aspire to, or that from an Asian perspective, it isn't an explanation of what contributes to vibrant health?
No, I'm just saying that maybe it's not shiatsu's strongest selling point. Not to those of us who aren't used to thinking along these lines anyway.
So, I'm a visual person. Maybe this'll work for you.
Picture the meridians in the body as a highway system. When traffic is flowing, all is well. People getting where they need to be, goods picked up and delivered on time, everybody's happy. The flow is balanced.
Uh oh. Fender bender along the Stomach meridian. Traffic is slowing down, maybe even stagnating. (And in the body, symptoms related to the stomach functions will arise.)
Depending on how this situation is handled, flow may be easily restored again, or it may start backing up into connecting roadways, causing dysfunction and symptoms in other areas. Just great.
One thing to do would be to redirect the traffic to a route that is totally clear. (Ah... balancing!)
This is the idea behind kyo/jitsu in Zen shiatsu. The jitsu (traffic jam) is what we notice, and are most inclined to address. However, a funny thing about energy is that is follows our attention/intention. Putting pressure on something like, say, tight shoulders gives some relief, but really we are just adding more energy to an already excessive situation.
Finding the empty area in the body, and placing pressure/attention there redirects the traffic from a jammed place into an empty one.
Everything gets flowing again, pain is relieved, symptoms diminish and all is happy is Body-land again.
Okay, so that is a pretty simplistic scenario, but still, I hope this helps you gain a little clearer idea of what you would be paying me for.
(As to that subhead... now that you've been schooled in energy balancing... some headaches are described as "Liver yang rising". Meaning that the chi flow of the Liver meridian is going to the head causing pain and pressure, especially as in migraines. There are key points in the feet that bring that energy back down, away from the head, and restore overall energy balancing, like the master traffic light control system. Cool, right? I know!)
Like this post? How about:
Further reading from more respectable writers?