Among the potential challenges in marketing of this line of work is convincing others of the profound potential regular bodywork can have on their health.
Many of us know massage feels really good - that the relaxation and pain relief we experience are awesome.
But, believe me, I know, when the budget is tight, this is among the first things to get dropped.
And, as for shiatsu, which is even less familiar, with more subtle benefits, it's an even harder 'sell'. (I hate to use that word, but, well, it fits.)
My own experience, as well as those of a few of my clients, is that the work has cumulative benefits... the magic number seems to be three sessions after which a person will have that Ah-HA! moment (or as one woman exclaimed after her third session, "Holy Shit! This stuff is awesome!").
While shiatsu has been said to be able to address a wide variety of issues, one book I'm reading now says this: "Shiatsu never cures the patient entirely, it simply awakens his own healing power."*
Well, that's all well and good, but with little time and fewer resources, it's hard to justify spending money on 'awakening my own healing power'.
It's hard to expect people to invest in the longer term ... to suggest that if they hang in there, their 'inner healer' will awaken; that, in fact, it's doing its thing even if they're not aware of it yet - restoring the underlying balance to support and relieve outer imbalances that are disrupting their lives.
Because people (you) are hurting now. You're stressing now. Balance and all is desirable, but really, you want to feel good now and get through the day. I get that. You may feel relaxed after a session. Buzzed even. That's great. But your shoulder still hurts. And life is still insane.
It's been tempting, at times, for me to question the efficacy of this work when I can't relieve someone's long-term issue in a session or two, even though I understand from training and experience that it takes more time than that. I ask myself what I'm doing wrong. Or maybe I need new tools and skills so I can provide that more immediate relief.
So, I have to take myself back to the books and the philosophy, (as well as sign up for regular sessions for myself again) and be reminded of the power of this work. I also have to remember that expectations can be high, especially around chronic pain. Our bodies are malleable, but still dense... still slow to change. Our bodies are the expression of habits. They mold themselves around our lifestyles, our emotions, our self-images. They are living patterns, following the lead of our minds and hearts.
It takes time to make those changes. And awareness. The beauty of shiatsu is that it's a means of giving information and guidance. Not only are we showing the body another way to be, how it feels to relax, opening new pathways for other patterns to develop .. but with each session, these changes become more long-lasting, and the awareness grows in the receiver as to when our bodies are going back into those patterns that no longer serve.
So, now, how to market the value in that? :)
*"Barefoot Shiatsu", by Shizuko Yamamoto (affiliate link)