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Part 2: Treatment Of Psychological Problems With Shiatsu

Originally published on December 13, 2021.

Perceiving the psychological as well as the energetic

The basis of professional Shiatsu, and this includes working with psychological issues, is the perception of the physical patterns in the body as they mirror the human’s actual life situation, including their emotional state. The treatment takes these specific body patterns as its starting point, touches prominent key areas of the body, and looks for the changes that occur as a consequence of the touch.

The physical patterns may have already existed for a long time, mirroring the personality, and the often un­conscious beliefs of a human. However, these patterns might also mirror the current situation, the experiences, and events of the day, or even the treatment.

Shiatsu, however, is more than that. Besides bodywork, Shiatsu is first and foremost about touching the energetic space of a person. This space reaches beyond the physical and yet the bodyworker can find it within the body and can reach it through physical touch.

This means that an experienced Shiatsu practitioner can perceive the energetic space and its structures in the same way as they perceive the physical body (e.g. the state of the energetic organs and meridians but also the energetic pattern, for example in a painful joint). However, the perception of the energetic follows different rules than that of the material.

Whereas, for example, the physical body has a clearly defined shape and limit, it is the nature of the energetic that it has no such boundaries; rather, everything is connected to everything else. As a consequence, the energetic perception is never really sharp – the clear contours of the physical world are missing (this is why a beginner often lacks trust), but it can still create a very clear impression.

Despite this, the energetic can show clear and precise structures, which react more quickly or easily to touch than the physical body does, and their changes can be perceived equally well. Physical and energetic patterns always exist at the same time, they are mutually dependent, and in the end, it is impossible to clearly distinguish one from the other.

For example, a person in a difficult emotional situation may show great tension in their wrists. When we take such a wrist into our hands, the tension will be perceptible at once. If we now feel into this tension with our Inner Awareness, we may find that it is distributed unevenly. There may be spots where the tension is particularly prominent while other areas may be lacking strength and tone.

Some of these patterns can be felt by the tactile sense. Their essence, however, evades the tactile, physical perception. The Inner Awareness goes further, it allows you to follow strings of energy within the body. Finally, it provides the means to travel to every part of the body. This is possible even though, on a material level, the physical body is solid and separated by its surface from the environment. But energetically speaking it is an open space through which we can travel with Pure Attention.

Another area of the body, too, can show conspicuous patterns of tension during a psychological crisis in the same way as the wrists in the above example. Typical areas are, for example, the masseter muscles under the cheek-bone (these can be so tense that a person may literally grind down their teeth during the night), the throat (this can feel tense and narrow, maybe with the feeling as if something that has been swallowed got stuck), the thorax (e.g. painful blocked ribs or the feeling not to be able to breathe deeply and freely), the upper sternum (where there is often a feeling of pressure or the feeling as if something was stuck, which may provoke coughing as if to clear one’s throat), between the shoulder blades (e.g. constant pulling pain or numbness), the upper abdomen (e.g. feeling of pressure, pain, or just stiffness), the lower back, the pelvis, the knees, ankles etc.

In essence, every part of the body can draw attention to itself in this way, and make it clear that an issue in the person’s life wants to be looked at more closely and be understood more deeply.


This is a transcription from a presentation that Wilfried made during his Global Shiatsu Virtual Gathering on November 13, 2021.

By Wilfried Rappenecker

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