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Textbooks to Fill a Gap?

A teacher once advised me to write the textbooks I wished I had during my own student days. Perfect! As my background was in journalism before I trained in Zen Shiatsu, I was equipped, and had published works of fiction and non fiction on both sides of the Atlantic.

I planned The Self -Shiatsu handbook to be a total contrast to all the other self shiatsu books on the market. First of all I wanted it to be multi-ethnic and to include all ages. I was fed up with books that just showed a single model, usually White or Asian. As though no other races existed in the world of Shiatsu!

Photo Sessions – The Self - Shiatsu Handbook

So - in planning the photo sessions with a wonderful Dallas photographer Alison Russell, we invited a range of friends: Japanese, Puerto Rican, East Indian, Ethiopian, African American, mixed race African American and First Nation, Mexican American, and yes, some White!

Ages ranged from 4 to over 80. I posed them all in front of the camera in a series of fun sessions. None had any training in Shiatsu, as I wanted to show that anyone can perform simple solo or paired Self -Shiatsu for problems ranging from computer related aches and pains, to grief, menstrual pain, breast health/breast cancer, headaches, intestinal discomfort, jogging related pains, etc. We also had family groups working in circles. The book was a total labor of love and it was published in the USA by Perigee (now Penguin in 1995) the UK (by Newleaf in 1996). German editions titled Shiatsu were published by Trias Verlag in 1995, with a second edition by Edition Con/Kom in 2005).

TAKE FIVEthe five elements guide to health and harmony.

Studying the five elements was thrilling for me. But I felt the need of a colorful textbook that worked equally for students and clients and members of the public.

I wanted to explore the elements on many global levels, in literature, customs, rituals, life, language, idiom, and especially in art.

I scoured art museums in all the cities where I taught and obtained the rights to include photos of Inuit Art (Water theme) from Toronto’s art gallery of Ontario, a Fire Sculpture featured in Stockholm’s Cultural Capital of Europe festival of 1998, Magritte’s 6 Elements from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and even folding screens from the Edo period showing 12 months of flowers and birds, from the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. Other illustrations included global photographers showing everything from folks toppling over in the savage south-easter winds in Cape Town, to colorful five element displays of fruit in France, to my own photos of spring rituals.


Graphic artist Friedrich Hartmann of my German publisher Trias Verlag of Stuttgart, worked with me to craft color coded charts, diagrams, and cartoons. Multilingual friends shared idioms and sayings in German, Russian, Arabic, and Danish.

It was a joy to create this work together with case studies and tips for teachers. I hope every teacher who reads it will be inspired to use assorted colors on their flip charts and blackboards, and set storyboard projects for their students to chart family dynamics and patterns of illness according to the Five Elements. Certainly this is one of the most universally colorful topics to teach in Asian Medicine! Take Five was published by Gill&Macmillan, Dublin in 2000. A German edition was published in 1999 by Trias Verlag titled Lebensfreude und Harmonie durch die Kraft der 5 Elemente)

SAND TO SKY - Conversations with Teachers of Asian Medicine (2008)

My co-author Debra Duncan Persinger Ph.D and I decided it was time to craft the first anthology of teachers of Asian Medicine for the 21st century. Debra had just left the NCCAOM (National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine), and I had just left the faculty of AOMA (Graduate School of Integrative Medicine) so we were primed to pool our resources, and love of teaching innovations.

We had a huge array of global contacts in all aspects of Western and Asian Medicine and those who created schools, from the USA, UK, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, Switzerland, China and Japan. We opted for a snappy Q&A style, not only to give the work immediacy and accessibility, but to avoid a stuffy textbook approach. We aimed to inspire teachers and TA’s worldwide with insights and innovations and to focus on unusual and inventive modern ways of teaching the ancient arts of medicine. Calligraphy was crafted by Dr Yuxia Qiu L.Ac

Our front cover, based on a painting by Karen Greathouse Austin based Acupuncturist and Artist, actually prompted the title. Published by iUniverse in 2008.


About The Author:

Pamela Ellen Ferguson has been teaching Zen Shiatsu globally for over 4 decades. She ls dual national British and American, was born in Mexico and raised in the UK, South Africa, and the USA. She was trained by Pauline Sasaki at the Ohashi Institute in New York City where she also completed teacher training. She has helped develop Zen Shiatsu programs in the USA, Canada, Switzerland, Germany and Austria. She is Asian Bodywork Therapy Dean Emerita of AOMA, and a former board member of the AOBTA(r). She currently lives in Austin Texas. Her books (including second hand copies) are available on,, and

Textbooks to fill a gap?” is based on a chapter in her evolving memoir

“Cornish Cactus”. (c) 2023.

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