How is Shiatsu nourishing? We use this word to describe food that is beneficial, healthy and nurturing; sustenance that is necessary for life and growth. For me, touch is food for the body and soul. When I receive Shiatsu with the special contact that Shiatsu practitioners use, it is as if I am being fed. I feel as if my body and mind are taking in and digesting the understanding and love that is coming through the hands, and I am filling up with the sort of support that comes from a combination of a good chat with a friend, a long hot bath, and the stimulating beauty of nature.
Touch is the first sense we acquire, and being non-verbal it does not need words, reaching to places inside us which pre-date speech or for which there is no description. In a good Shiatsu session you will have the sense that the practitioner goes to parts which you are only just aware need attention, where a deeper bit of yourself wants to be contacted. I often hear my clients say ‘you went where I wanted you to without me having to say’.
As trainee practitioners we learn the art of touching carefully, precisely, and with the openness and honesty that we would want others to touch us. This is one of the reasons we train for a minimum of 3 years. Using our body weight, assessing the correct amount of pressure, and adjusting the angle of our fingers and thumbs as we work on a sensitive body takes time and skill. We must and do continue to develop our practice throughout our working lives. To be effective is not as simple as it may seem.
When I use thumb pressure (which is the straightforward definition of the Japanese word Shi-atsu) I know about the anatomy of that part of the body, the flesh, muscles, and organs beneath the clothes and skin. I also sense the emotional feelings and electrical energy that are bound up in these and the linked parts of the body. This goes some way to explain why Shiatsu nourishes: there is a depth and comfort about this sort of touch.
We do not all have as much touch in our lives as we need. Maybe we are in a relationship but there is not enough touch, or not the right sort. Maybe we have children and friends who give us lovely hugs, but the sort of touch we need is this nourishing and confidential touch. For me, Shiatsu is a form of healing and the way the therapist applies her hands makes all the difference to how well fed I feel afterwards.