Zen Shiatsu is a form of bodywork administered by thumbs, fingers, palms and elbows, feet and knees. It depends for its success on a meditative activity of the practitioner, aimed especially at detecting the body responses to the treatment, which influences the subsequent treatment step by step.
Pressure is applied to all parts of the body along specific pathways (meridians). These are essentially the same meridians that are used in traditional Chinese medicine for acupuncture. It is understood that this technique stimulates the natural healing powers of the body, wherefore symptoms of disease lessen and vitality is regained.
The professional Zen Shiatsu therapist is trained to feel the body’s condition, particularly the circulation of energy, by his/her hands in order to find the imbalanced areas in the body. By skilfully stimulating the imbalanced meridians, the therapist helps to restore the balanced flow. From the Western point of view, shiatsu works directly to calm the autonomic nervous system, which has the effect of calming nervous distress and increasing resistance to stress.
By helping with blood and lymph circulation in the body, shiatsu helps to maintain and improve muscle tone and healthy internal organ functions. It is believed that shiatsu can also strengthen the immune system. Regular and consistent shiatsu treatments can become an important aspect of preventive health care as well as treatment for existing symptoms.
Zen Shiatsu is ideally performed while the recipient lies on or close to the floor, allowing the practitioner access from all sides and the ability to apply pressure using body weight (as opposed to pushing just with finger pressure, as may be done with other shiatsu techniques.) The shiatsu recipient should be dressed comfortably with light clothing. No massage oils or lotions are used or needed because the practitioner does not slide along the body surface, but gives a series of presses along the pathways.