Shiatsu is generally recognized as having an origin that dates back a thousand years. However, its antecedents go back as far as five thousand years. Shiatsu means literally finger pressure, and it has the same therapeutic roots as the Chinese system of acupuncture. Unlike acupuncture, however, Shiatsu has never incorporated needles into its healing techniques. It was originally called amna and was an extension of the mystical system known as Zen. In the twentieth century it became a recognized branch of Japanese medicine under the name shiatsu, and its practitioners are stringently licensed.


The preeminent foundation of shiatsu is embodied in the concept of meridians. These are focalized points of energy in the body that are considered to be the fountainheads of the life force. There are twelve of these power points, and they connect both to themselves and to the various physiological systems of the body. Shiatsu also recognizes currents of energy encircling the Earth, and the energy rivers of the body can potentially connect with the ley currents in nature to exponentially increase the force of these energies. The ultimate point of shiatsu is to free these bottled up channels of force through focalized manipulation of the twelve meridian points. This chi energy represents the ultimate quintessence of human beings, and it is the true body of power that governs the physical being and its well-being.


The practitioner of shiatsu uses very strong, intense pressure on the meridian points. This pressure is generally delivered with the hands, but the elbows and feet can also be incorporated to facilitate release of the pressure point energies. The therapist will initially survey the appearance of the individual to gain a preliminary grasp of the overall state of health and to determine which meridians should be most intently focused upon. The twelve points are each specifically connected to organs of the body, such as the liver, spleen, stomach, heart and lungs. They also have a degree of specificity with relation to overall body systems, such as the nervous system, the endocrine system, the circulatory system and the respiratory system. By causing an increase in energies to these weakened systems and organs, the stronger systems are also benefitted and aid in facilitating the healing process of the deteriorated systems and their representative organs.


The spiritual-mystical practice of Zen is frequently integrated into shiatsu. The Zen shiatsu practitioner will enter into a state of deep meditation to ascertain the blocked energy paths in the body that are causing deleterious health. Imbalances of the yin and yang energies are also determined during meditation. In Zen shiatsu it is of critical importance to rebalance these positive and negative energies. The therapist also strives to help the subject achieve meditative states that will foment greater healing and further fill the rivers of health-bringing energy that are circulating through the body.


The shiatsu spa is typified by its aestheticism. It embodies the elemental concept of Zen simplicity. In a darkened room, the beneficiary of shiatsu health techniques lies on a futon mat. The individual is attired in loose clothing. Shiatsu is one form of massage in which the individual is not nude. To many people in Western civilization, the idea of nudity is offensive or undesirable. These individuals can experience the benefits of massage at a shiatsu spa, while retaining their modesty.


Traditional asiatic herbs are frequently incorporated into the shiatsu healing phenomenon. Tumeric is an excellent anti-inflammatory herb. Perilla is used to strengthen the immune system. Ginseng is the preeminent endocrine system stimulator. These are a few of the many herbs that are utilized as an adjunct to shiatsu massage therapy.


The shiatsu spa massage treatment is a consummate approach to achieving an elevated state of energetic health through the manipulation of the body’s points of power.

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