Gimme Some Skin
Working my way again through a favorite book, Zen Shiatsu: How to Harmonize Yin and Yang for Better Health I came across this passage by author Shizuto Masunaga that beautifully describes what shiatsu offers to its receivers:
"It is important for us to keep in mind that incorporation of shiatsu and a balanced diet into our daily life will keep us healthy....
In order for the body to benefit from a balanced diet, it is important that the food is consumed under relaxing conditions that will promote proper digestion. The way we eat and digest our foods is influenced by our social environment. So, to a great extent our health relies on and reflects healthy human relationships.
Basic human relationships are "skin-ships"; -- that is, skin to skin. In our stressful environment, this relationship is constantly being threatened. As a result, a great deal of tension is carried in the skin. This in turn causes cutaneous distortions that eventually affect the functioning of the internal organs."
I love this, the idea of "skin-ships", and that healthy physical human contact contributes to our overall well-being! It is great news for someone in line of work I do, of course, but I think it also supports the cause for frequent hugging as a way to keep healthy.
Masunaga goes on to say that one's comfort or tension level while receiving shiatsu could be a good indicator of the quality and nurturing ability of their human relationships. A person who experiences discomfort while being treated, while perhaps wanting to avoid such contact as a result, would find that over time, a more trusting and relaxed relationship between them and the practitioner would unfold, rippling out into other relationship areas of their lives.
This idea supports my own about the primary healing function of bodywork being the human connections, as well as Saul Goodman's statement that shiatsu, with its variances of pressure on all parts of the body, are reminiscent of our time in the womb, when the amniotic fluid supported us, and stimulated the skin and vital organ functions. The feedback offered, also, by the skin to skin contact, even when it is first perceived as discomfort, can be used ultimately to offer valuable information and awareness to the receiver about their own condition and how their physical bodies respond to their environment.
As Deane Juhan, author of Job's Body: A Handbook for Bodywork (Third Edition) says, "Touch the surface, and you stir the depths."