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About Shiatsu

What is Shiatsu?

Shiatsu is a physical therapy that supports and strengthens the body’s natural ability to heal and balance itself. It works on the whole person – not just a physical body, but also a psychological, emotional and spiritual being.

Shiatsu originated in Japan from traditional Chinese medicine, with influences from more recent Western therapies. Although shiatsu means ‘finger pressure’ in Japanese, in practise a practitioner uses touch, comfortable pressure and manipulative techniques to adjust the body’s physical structure and balance its energy flow. It is a deeply relaxing experience and regular treatments can alleviate stress and illness and maintain health and well-being.

from http://www.shiatsusociety.org

SHIATSU DISTANCE HEALING

Normal Shiatsu Sessions have resumed – contact me for a booking

During the pandemic I offered two types of shiatsu consultations. I will continue to offer these services. For the SELF SHIATSU SUPERVISION it might be useful for you to visit my YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqmbBpi1oJ9q40jkKknebrQ?view_as=subscriber to access some exercises/protocols to support your health whilst at home.

SELF SHIATSU SUPERVISION – I consult with you via the phone/ online e.g ZOOM to see what you’d like shiatsu to help with. I will diagnose the best approach we can do together live – from breath work to qigong, self shiatsu on points to meridian stretches to Do-In, there are many ways to bring about balance again in the body. I will summarise what we did (in the case of ZOOM the session is recorded and sent to you) for you to practise at home.

SHIATSU DISTANCE HEALING – a huge amount of an ordinary shiatsu session is purely energetic; chi is after all outside of space & time. This is what we are connecting with when we work on meridians. After an initial consultation by phone/online, I will ask you to lie down in a quiet space for 45 mins. I will proceed with a treatment in very much the same manner as if you were actually in the room, taking notes of anything I feel happening / any changes that may be occurring as I experience it. Later, at an agreed time we will again contact each other by phone, and exchange feedback. So far these sessions have proved remarkably effective.

Shiatsu Treatments have resumed in person.

Dominic has been practising shiatsu since graduating in 1995. He currently offers treatments in three different venues:

  • St. Gabriels Church Parish Centre, 2 St. Gabriels Avenue, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE6 5QN. Mondays & Fridays. Go to contact page.
  • Fulwell Community Centre, Chapman Street, Sunderland SR6 8HS. Contact: Tel. 07766014912. Tuesday afternoons from 1.30pm.
  • Blackhall Mill Community Centre, River View, NE177TQ. Thursday afternoons and Fridays.
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Jimmy shiatsu fill

About Qigong

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Qigong: A Guide for Beginners                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

by: Daverick Leggett

The practice of Qigong arises from the deep past of China and its neighbours. It is known as the root of all Chinese medicine and philosophy……..

Introduction

The practice of Qigong arises from the deep past of China and its neighbours. It is known as the root of all Chinese medicine and philosophy. Through the profound perceptions of its early practitioners, the meridians and points of acupuncture were discovered and charted and the healing nature of foods and herbs was established. Qigong can broadly be defined as the practice of cultivating the subtle energy, or Qi. Qi may be translated as breath, as the cosmic breath of life itself, as the vibrational force which animates matter. Gong implies work and the benefits accumulated over time through dedicated practice. Qigong, then, is a way of working with subtle energy to achieve some benefits.

Exactly what benefits will depend on style and focus. There are many styles ranging from the martial to the meditative. Qigong may be used to achieve good health, to develop healing abilities, to become powerful in combat, to become accomplished artistically or to achieve spiritual realisation, or sometimes a combination of these. This article is not a practical guide to Qigong but rather a discussion of some of its essential principles. These principles are part of the guidance I usually give to a class as preparation for Qigong and as a way of entering the “Qigong state”. They can be seen as forming the foundation of good practice.

Some Qigong principles

1) Relaxed attention

There is an apparent tension between these two words. We are asked simultaneously to relax and to pay attention. To relax is to become soft, let go of tension, forget about worries, settle down. To pay attention is to be alert, concentrate, wake up. Qigong demands a balance of these two states. We are asked to relax without collapsing our posture, becoming dreamy or falling asleep and to pay attention without tightening the muscles, holding the breath or becoming too intense.

Relaxed attention, or attentive relaxation, is necessary to enter the Qigong state. If we relax but fail to be attentive, we enter a state closer to sleeping than the Qigong state. If we concentrate too tightly, without softness, we will also fail to achieve the Qigong state through constricting the energy flow. The Qigong state is an attunement of the bodymind to the subtle world, a coming-into-resonance with the subtle energy, or Qi. It is a relaxed, awake and pleasant state in which profound levels of healing are possible.

Qigong can be thought of as an active form of rest. Although Qigong can be quite strenuous and demanding at times, it is distinguished from most western styles of movement by the restful quality that informs its practice. Recently a Channel 4 series about Qigong played on this concept calling itself “Stand still, be fit”. It is this “not-doing” which makes it quite a challenging practice for most westerners.

2) Taking an open posture

The mental state of relaxed attention needs to be mirrored by a physical state of relaxed and open posture. Qigong challenges our often deeply held habits of struggling, trying too hard and competing with others. Progress is achieved through softening and opening. Qigong stresses the importance of opening the joints to allow the Qi to flow, and aligning the posture. More subtly it speaks of opening the invisible “cavities” of the body and allowing the subtle exchanges and movements of energy within the body and between the human being and the cosmic environment.

Qigong also teaches us to reverse some of our habitual reactions. Rather than contract when we experience pain, Qigong teaches us to soften and extend, to go through the difficulty. Rather than “toughing it out”, Qigong recommends that the way through is to melt, not to harden; and to release through the breath, not to clench the muscles and constrict the breath. There is an emphasis on creating more space in the body, not just between the joints but increasing the spaces between the cells, or even between the atoms and molecules.

By creating space we open to nourishment. Not only can the Qi circulate more freely but nourishing energy from the cosmos can fill the body. My own teacher sometimes uses the phrase, “discharge to recharge”. When we empty out the heavy tiredness from the body and clear the chaotic chatter from the mind, fresh energy and positive thoughts can come in. Implicit in this is a basic trust that the universe is on our side, that through opening and emptying we will be supported and filled.

In fact, from the perspective of Qigong, the true nature of all phenomena is their essential emptiness. Not lack of significance or pointlessness, but insubstantiality. Qigong leads us to the direct perception and experience of this insubstantiality, of the vibrational nature of the universe. Strange though it may sound, Qigong connects us to this pre-manifest level. It is through re-patterning at the energetic level that Qigong achieves its physical benefits.

3) Giving the weight to the earth

It is easy these days to live lives disconnected from the earth beneath our feet. Posturally, through fear and too much mental activity, our centre of gravity shifts higher than it should be and we hold our weight away from the ground. Qigong trains us to surrender our bodyweight into the earth, to relate to gravity.

This has several benefits and implications. When we manage to let our weight go down, we also become more relaxed and mentally less preoccupied. Often the breathing becomes fuller and deeper. More subtly we discharge the heavy, accumulated energy into the earth and open to receive light, ascending, lively energy up through our feet and into the body.

This is one of the ways that Qigong seeks to align a person “between heaven and earth”. In Chinese philosophy, the human being exists at the interface of the two great energies of heaven and earth. Life on earth is the fruit of this cosmic marriage. Qigong attempts to harmonise the practitioner with these forces. Our weight, the heavy and dense aspect of our being, is surrendered downwards to return to earth whilst the light energy ascends towards spirit. Qigong can thus be seen as a way of aligning with nature.

 4) Connecting to the Qi

Connecting to the Qi is something which defines Qigong as distinct from not-Qigong. To practise Qigong as simply a series of physical movements or postures is to miss the point. The primary method of Qigong is to connect to Qi. Its various postures and motions are simply tools to achieve this connection. To connect to the Qi is not an abstract idea but something felt and directly experienced. Qigong’s “technology” leads us into the direct experience of Qi and opens us to healing.

Qi is frequently perceived as magnetic sensations, as tingling, as warmth, as subtle movement, as vibration, as waves or even as light. This depends partly on the practitioner and partly on the level at which the work is happening. For many people, their opening to Qi through Qigong awakens an awesome sense of life’s magic. It shifts their perception and opens up a deeper level of reality.

Of course, the encounter with Qi can also lead to confusion and delusion. The journey must be navigated with sincerity and heart. Nor is it a quick fix or shortcut to everlasting good health and enlightenment: it takes persistence and practice to achieve its benefits. It is, however, time-honoured and rooted in many generations of practice, experiment and insight. I hope that this article has given you some flavour of what it is about and perhaps whetted your appetite for more.

Getting Started

If you have read as far as this point , you either practise Qigong already or feel drawn towards it. Getting started is simply a question of finding a teacher and a style that suits you. Sometimes what’s nearest and most convenient is the best place to start. Certainly it is the path of ease.

A Qigong way of starting would be to put out a clear intention to the universe that you are looking. You can make this a little more concrete by asking around, checking noticeboards and other common sense things. When you get leads to this or that class pay attention to the subtle responses in your body. How does your energy respond? What are your very first gut responses to hearing about a particular class or teacher? Remember these as you move further along the road and check it out for yourself. When you try out a class be honest with yourself about your responses to the teacher. Are they someone you feel inclined to trust and respect? Do they manifest in their own being the qualities they are teaching? Take a look at the people who are in the class. Do you like what you see? It’s important that you have a basic feeling of warmth and trust towards your teacher and that they seem to you to be a good model. They don’t have to be Qigong masters, simply people who are sincere.

Then you need to decide whether the style is right for you. Ask yourself what you want to achieve: to become less stressed, more fit, more profound, better at combat, to heal yourself from some ailment? If it’s combat skills you want then a sitting meditation class probably isn’t the best route. If it’s self-healing try to find a style that focuses on self-healing. Having said that, you may simply have to accept what is most easily available. Although the various styles have different intentions, all Qigong styles will have some benefit on overall health, will reduce stress levels and bring you into a deeper relationship with yourself. From a Qigong point of view, the teacher arrives when the student is ready. Simply start somewhere and follow your instincts. Bon voyage.

Daverick Leggett teaches Qigong in England and is the author of two books on Chinese medicine and healing. He teaches the Hua Gong style developed and brought to England by his teacher Zhixing Wang. For details of Daverick’s and other classes go to www.qigong-southwest.co.uk. For information about nutrition and Chinese medicine go to www.meridianpress.net

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