What is Movement Shiatsu?

Movement Shiatsu was developed by Bill Palmer as a method for dealing with difficult chronic conditions through Shiatsu.

In a typical session, normal Shiatsu is alternated with exercises and experiments which help the client to feel their own strengths and weaknesses and to sense directly the effect that the Shiatsu is having on them.

This facilitates a more interactive style of work than is normal in Shiatsu and we place much importance on the client learning and providing feedback. We take care to make sure the client understands the reason for the bodywork by being able to sense the reason for it (for instance, feeling a disconnection in the body) and the effect (by feeling how those parts of the body now feel connected).

This allows the client to carry the work of the Shiatsu session consciously into their lives, experimenting with how to move differently and respond creatively to situations which, beforehand, they reacted to habitually. This helps the nervous system to re-pattern even very deeply ingrained habits and unlocks the healing of chronic conditions.

The Postgraduate Certificate Programme is designed to help practitioners incorporate the styles and techniques of Movement Shiatsu into their own style of work. In particular it shows:

Making Shiatsu Interactive

Shiatsu is often done in silence, with the client passively lying in a position and the therapist working on them. There is nothing wrong with this, and, in certain situations, such as a client who is hyper-active and focused in the mind, may be the most appropriate form.

Movement Shiatsu, however, specialises in working with chronic conditions, and in these cases it is usually necessary for the client to become more active in the therapy, so that they can become aware of their engrained postural and behavioural patterns and to start to experiment with them.

In the course, we show how to make Shiatsu more interactive by involving the client more in the energetic work. Helping them to move into positions in which they can feel the weaknesses and the compensatory tensions for themselves and helping them to feel the effect of the bodywork.

We also show you how to design customised exercises and experiments for the client to practice outside the Shiatsu so that they can feel how to soften their habitual patterns and make the connections felt in the sessions for themselves.

Using Movement to develop awareness

Bill practised Zen Shiatsu for ten years before he started to develop Movement Shiatsu. The development was inspired by the fact that for many clients, although they felt relaxed and better after the Zen Shiatsu treatments, the chronic issues in their life and health were hard to change.

Movement Shiatsu was developed to deal with hard to change patterns in chronic conditions. The client needs to be more aware of their body and the detailed patterns of their energy so that they can challenge them and make fresh choices in their normal lives.

Movement brings awareness because it involves change. So Movement Shiatsu alternates periods of Shiatsu with periods of movement or postures like yoga, in which the client can feel their own weaknesses and strengths, and can feel the effect of the bodywork. This allows them to take this awareness into the rest of their life and starts a process of organic and developmental change.

Processing emotional issues through the body

When dealing with chronic issues, it is almost inevitable that they will have some strong emotional content, if only the sense of shame, failure and frustration that goes along with having to deal with a difficult, long term problem. Sometimes, the stuckness in the chronic state is actually a protective shield against strong feelings from the client's past. In any case, when the client starts to loosen the condition, emotions will come up.

Instead of trying to calm the energy down when emotion arises, in Movement Shiatsu we teach the client to process the emotion through the body. This is a very specific skill which is enormously useful in normal life. Instead of being swept away be the emotion or entering an emotional drama, the client learns to contain the emotion without blocking it; to be energised by the emotion rather than be a victim to it and to use the energy of the emotion to free themselves of its cause.

This is a therapeutic echo of the process learnt in Tantric Buddhism, where strong emotions are not avoided but, instead, are transformed into their pure energetic driving force, which can liberate the practitioner from their original karma.

Introducing experiments to change stuck patterns

Movements, exercises and postures are all forms of experiment, with which the client can learn to get a handle on their dysfunctional patterns. The aim is to make them active rather than passive victims to the condition.

As well as these purely physical experiments, there comes a time in most therapy when the client needs to take the insights learnt in the Shiatsu sessions into their normal lives. Their normal web of relationships and friendships expect them to be their old self and their friends and lovers can actively resist change in the client.

In the course we will show how to deal with this issue and how to help the client to experiment with their 'expected' behaviour and how to gently confront the pressures from their extended circle. In most cases, we find that this increases the depth of the relationships the client has and frees both them and their friends.

Using Developmental Movement and the Six Divisions in Shiatsu

The physical experiments and movements used in Movement Shiatsu are derived from the Developmental Movements through which babies learn to grow into their bodies. In doing these archetypal movements, babies are also learning the physical bases of important life skills such as "Knowing and Getting what you need", "Rejecting what is harmful", "Turning desire into action", "Choosing to put up with discomfort for a greater future reward".

Both the physical movements and the life skills can be related directly to the Six Divisions and Bill has shown how the movements develop in babies along the precise lines of the meridians that make up the Six Divisions. He believes they form the archetypal pathways along which the mind learns to inhabit the body and so can also be the road to re-discovery in adults who have, for some reason, lost contact with their body.