How does zen shiatsu differ from regular forms of this popular Japanese healing system? Traditionally, practitioners use their hands (or occasionally feet) to apply pressure along key energy pathways in the body.
The difference is simply one of intention. With zen shiatsu the practitioner still use the fingers, palms, thumbs, forearms, elbows, knees, and feet as normal, but their focus will be different.
In Zen shiatsu the focus is on the receiver, on the "here and now," and the practitioner works to coordinate their movements with their breath. With this intense focus, these sessions are therefore very quiet and contemplative - there is a minimum of talking during the session.
This combined practice comes from the work of Shizuto Masunaga, a professor of psychology who combined his knowledge of traditional healing methods, psychology, and Western physiology, to create a comprehensive theory of healing.
During a session the practitioner uses their thumbs, fingers, palms, even elbows, feet and knees, to stimulate the meridians.
These meridians are energy pathways which carry Qi (our essential life energy) around the body. When these pathways become blocked, it can have a negative impact on our health - mental, spiritual and physical.
The skilled practitioner uses their hands to find the imbalanced areas in the body, and by applying appropriate pressure to the imbalanced meridians, restores the balanced flow.
This stimulates the natural healing powers of the body, causing a variety of symptoms to lessen, and overall vitality to improve.