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Highlighting the treatment

Shiatsu is mostly administered, to a patient wearing a single layer of comfortable clothing, which allows for conduction of the skins resonance. Although this is the prevalent form of practice, in some places inside the U.S.A. and throughout the world, Shiatsu is administered to bare skin, in pursuit of a better sensation of the Qi flow. Giving Shiatsu in the clothed manner is based on the assumption that: a) the patient is much less inhibited by the touch and b) a direct contact with the skin may distort the giver's focus and perception of the Qi flow.

Shiatsu can be administered on the floor, on a carpet or on a futon in a variety of positions lying on the back, l on the stomach, or on the side, or even sitting up. The practitioner can access the relevant pressure points (Tsubos), and perform the necessary stretches, in every one of these positions. However, the choice of the position should be most comfortable to both giver and receiver. For example, it would be unwise to try to treat a pregnant woman while lying on her pregnant belly.

It is also true that for certain manipulations, certain positions are possibly more effective than others. Often shiatsu is administered in more than one position in a single session. This, however, is decided by the therapist, and depends largely on patient's comfort and the therapist's own energy and skill. One way or another, it is not the number of positions your are experiencing in your session that determines the skill of your therapist, nor the outcome of the session. I have witnessed sessions in which a senior therapist applied pressure to one or two single Tsubos throughout the session with very interesting results. Before the receiver is offered to lie down, it may be advisable to soothe his/her possible apprehensions, by simply standing along side the patient and gently placing your palm on the patient's upper back. It is a warm "greeting" and introductory soothing and reassuring gesture.

As the session gets under way, it is the perogative of the patient to initiate any conversation with the therapist. It is best to keep an empty mind and quiet throughout the session, thus promoting the meditative focus. However, I find that promoting correct breathing technique along with professional use of aromatherapy ( by air diffusion only), as well as playing soft meditative music, although not written in any Shiatsu manual I have read, can be very beneficial.

Before I move on, I feel it is necessary to address the topic of discomfort, associated with Shiatsu therapy.

Discomfort or pain is a sensation originated in some imbalance-causing stimuli. It is a warning transmitted from the affected area to the brain, by our nervous system, registered and evaluated there, and reacted upon brain's command, e.g. wince and pull away, or say "ouch" etc. In a Shiatsu session pressure is applied gradually, with a great sensitivity to body parts, be it "pressure points" or just "wider parts of the body" (tissue, muscles, bones and organs) with the intention of regaining balance in the flow of life's vital energy (Qi). Sometimes, a number of these points may be obstructed, and does not allow for a healthy flow of this energy. The patient may or may not be aware of that obstruction until the therapist is stimulating a certain obstructed point, thus causing some degree of discomfort. Other Tsubos happen to be directly on certain nerves. It would be a sign of some disorder if such a Tsubo would not create some reflexive discomfort.

No skilled Shiatsu therapist uses exaggerated amount of pressure, nor is the pressure abrupt. However, each individual has a different pain threshold, and what merely feels like pressure by one, is interpreted as pain by another. During a Shiatsu session mild pressure is necessary to stimulate the tsubos, however, those stagnated, blocked tsubos, may respond with some degree of a sensation defined by some as "good pain" by others as "pressure", and by some - as pain. Since the therapist is tuned in and focused onto the receiver's reactions, it is usually easy to determine a painful spot, by sudden grimace on the receiver's face, tightening of a muscle or a gentle pull away movement. Although a patient is instructed to inform the therapist of a presence of pain, many don't unless the discomfort is "too much" for them. Upon sensing discomfort, the therapist may lighten his pressure over the particular point, until pain is bearable or not felt anymore. If he would try to press in spite the pain, that would only cause a complete shut-off of access to the particular point, and failure to achieve the healing and stimulating effect desired. Besides, there is frequently an alternative, less sensitive point to use, in order to release the stagnation in the blocked one.

The application of pressure in Zen Shiatsu is performed simultaneously with both hands. However many times we use the hands for two different roles: while one hand " tonifies" (= stimulates) certain "weak" (koyo) meridian - the other one applies stationary light touch to the "hyper" (jitsu) meridian which needs to be "calmed". Sometimes both hands are used to stimulate, and sometimes both are used to sedate. Tonification is performed by firm stationary pressure of a thumb or a finger/s to the points we wish to stimulate. The pressure is applied until we feel the Qi rising, and filling the weak part of the channel. This may take a few seconds or a few minutes. Calming/sedating a "hyper" meridian is performed by covering the "hyper" with one or two palms, creating a supportive touch, very much like placing a hand on the shoulder of an upset friend. The third way of application of the Shiatsu pressure is named "Dispersing". It is aimed at Tsubos, which are "hyper" and need to be "pumped out" of the excess Qi.. While it can and is done sometimes through gentle tapping or rotary motion on the Tsubo, a skilled practitioner will choose, mostly the calming/sedating approach, possibly along with simultaneous stimulation of a "weak" meridian, since "dispersing" carry the risk more discomfort.

A typical Zen Shiatsu session includes also stretching of the limbs and certain body areas in various angles and ways. Since Zen Shiatsu is a very fluid and mobile practice, we often combine the stretch with pressure application. The stretching, besides being very pleasant and relaxing, helps open blocked meridians, very much like the untangling of a garden hose full of pressurized water, in order to resume normal flow. When the session nears it's end, the therapist should once more examine the Hara, and asses wether the results of his treatment, indeed show improved balance of the Qi flow. Not always, the full desired results happen during the session. Some take more time, and better balance develop within hours after the session.

Since the therapist is adjusting the patient's system, one must remember, that although Shiatsu has no "side-effects" - the patient may sometimes feel very relaxed, or even tired after the session. Other times, he may feel energized and slightly "hyper". These "reactions" stem from the fact that the body-mind of the patient has to adjust to the changes brought about by the session.

After a session, I recommend that patients go home and rest a while (not necessarily sleep), and avoid driving long distances. During the twenty four hours following the treatment, many times a lot of toxins are released, and should be flushed-out. So the patient is asked to drink a lot of water to assist this process.

As the session ends, patient remains on the mat, relaxing for a few minutes, until he feels alert, and ready to leave. I then offer the patient a bottle of water, to start the flushing process.

The session lasts somewhere between fourty-five minutes to seventy-five minutes, and none of these figures are sacred. Sometimes the patient asks to prolong the treatment, although it is possible, the therapist should decide through re-examination if the session already balanced or started balancing the Qi flow. Overdoing it may be counter- productive.

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Under any conditions the Holistic work provided by the WellPath Holistic therapists is NOT to be considered as an substitute to a medicinal intervention. The results of our work may be considered Therapeutic but not Medicinal. We do not, under any circumstances claim to diagnose, provide medical prognosis or promise miraculous recovery. The act of signing the  Patient Medical History form is a waiver signed by the client waving any and all claims of liability for the development or worsening in client’s medicinal physical and mental condition. Reminder: We no longer offer Massage Therapy. In any case, Therapeutic Massage is NOT sexual. Prospective clients must have a clear understanding that no matter what therapeutic technique is applied - it has ABSOLUTELY no sexual arousing implied or intended.The following level of clarity is apparently needed: the term 'full body' anything, does not include the genital or anal regions. Any Therapist who performs such acts should be reported to the proper authority or the Police.