How Shiatsu Works
The Concept Of 'ki' And Channels (Meridians)

The Japanese massage form shiatsu basically works to facilitate in harmonizing the energy as well as vivacity of the body and the mind. We are all aware that when we eat we obtain energy and when we are eating in a healthy manner, we anticipate having added vitality. Moreover, we are also aware of the fact that the quality of our breathing is expressly linked with the intensity of our energy. However, the fact is that, apart from food and air, there is something else that exists within us which helps us to remain alive.

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According to the traditions in the West, our life force is an esoteric (mysterious) occurrence, which we normally accept as a gift from the great or supernatural powers. In effect, the Westerners have not made any endeavor to comprehend the life force to the point people in the Orient have. According to the Oriental viewpoint, our life force is our 'aliveness' and, hence, our liveliness and vigor are more closely related to our interface with the neighboring nature as well as the universe. The Taoist philosophy, which forms the basis for most of the medicine in the Far East, is a means to describe as well as comprehend the manner in which we as well as our environment work as one. Taoist philosophy is also focused on comprehending the way all things are eventually endeavoring to sustain balance as well as harmony plus the reflection that it is not possible for a complete balance and synchronization to exist anywhere, as continuously contrasting forces are working all through nature.

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The Western notion possesses a rich fund of exhaustive information relevant to the manner in which we are influenced by cosmological cycles, the most apparent example being astrology. Nevertheless, it appears that compared to all other philosophies, the Oriental beliefs most clearly work out the manner in which nature as well as our body and mind are living and functioning. As long as we are alive, Ki infuses all parts of our body, maintaining all bodily functions animated. While cells die all through our body, they are being replaced continuously by regeneration of the cells. However, as we grow older, the regeneration and replacement of cells in our body declines. Then comes a period when the body fails to replace sufficient number of essential cells that are required for the proper functioning of the vital organs. As a result of such malfunctioning of our organs, we eventually die.

It may be noted that the Oriental philosophy believes that the additional Ki that arrives at the cells, they become less susceptible to decay. Therefore, profuse supply of Ki to any cell denotes a healthier cell. Nevertheless, it is not just a matter of the quantity of Ki reaching a cell, but movement or flow of Ki is equally important. In healthy and vivacious individuals, the cycle of flow of Ki is smooth as well as abundant. It is, therefore, very natural that unhealthy creatures are not energetic, since Ki is not flowing smoothly within them.

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When the organs begin to malfunction eventually resulting in death, it is possible that adequate amount of Ki is not present to produce sufficient momentum to facilitate its smooth circulation. As a result, some areas of the body are ravenous of this energy, while the other areas of the body stagnate and build up waste products, something akin to inadequate water unable to flush out debris from a pipe. On the other hand, it may perhaps also be the excessive Ki is building up in a specific body area or the function of the body, resulting in inaction or hyperactivity or frenzy and pain in those areas.

Imbalances or disproportions in the amount as well as flow of Ki may be owing to several reasons, counting shock, emotional troubles, anomalous environmental aspects like too much heat or cold, poisons, intense assault from poisonous organisms, poor diet, inappropriate use of the body like creating postural or organ strains, accidents and several such instances. Therefore, a professional practitioner of shiatsu would endeavor to detect the cause as well as the precise influence/ impact of the cause on the individual seeking therapy and will subsequently apply shiatsu to augment the flow of Ki to places where it is required. At the same time, the shiatsu practitioner would also scatter and/ or calm down Ki at places where it is obstructed or places where there is irritation and ensure that it flows smoothly without any obstruction. Founded on the perception of what had caused the imbalance of Ki, the shiatsu practitioner would generally render advice to avert situations or issues that aggravate the problem.

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In order to comprehend the fundamental nature of shiatsu, you require comprehending that Ki circulates in all the places all through a living body, but it accumulates into 'channels' or 'meridians' of more intense flow of Ki. During the past millennia, Chinese have outlined these channels and observing them over the centuries have noticed the consequences of a channel not flowing in the manner it ought to. As a result, they have succeeded in working out ways and means to reinstate the appropriate approach of these channels or meridians and also the Ki flowing inside them. It is interesting to note that these core principles form the basis for even contemporary shiatsu.

For instance, the channels or meridians flow like rivers throughout the surface of the body as well as profound into its inside, regulating Ki into and from every internal organs. The place where one channel starts and ends, Ki continues to flow into a new channel, maintaining an unbroken course. At times, it is possible that a channel will join with one or more new channels or meridians somewhere else the length of its route. Various streams separate from the main or primary meridians and they subsequently sub-divide into further streams to provide Ki to all the structures of the body, including the muscles, bone, fascia or face and similarly to other parts. This channel arrangement is akin to an immense matrix or milieu providing Ki to, and, at the same time, enabling inter-communication of Ki between the entire areas and bodily functions. In fact, these channels or meridians are something very similar to the ever-dividing as well as scattering outline of the nervous system as well as the circulatory system within our body.

Like in the other Oriental streams of medicine, even in shiatsu the internal organs are connected with an assortment of function of the body as well as the mind. In effect, in case you influence the Ki channel of the recipient of shiatsu in any manner, at some plane, it would have an effect on the functioning of their body, their emotions as well as mental temperament. This is the fundamental nature of a session of shiatsu - to assist the recipient's Ki to regain strength as well as a further balanced and free-flowing condition by means of expert application of physical contact to the surface of the body, thereby fetching every aspect of the body as well as the mind into a superior synchronization.

The tsubos

It may be mentioned that several openings or hollow spaces exist at particular points along the pathway of the Ki channels or meridians where it enables Ki to open up to the surface. These gateways or openings are also called 'tsubos' and are necessarily pressure points (also known as acupoints), places where Ki are able to come into contact with the channels or meridians from the outer surface of the body, go away from the channel to join with the outside world or signify alterations in the flow of the channel in such a manner that when the channels or meridians are triggered, for instance, by applying pressure, the Ki is able to have an influence on the channel and, hence, a number of parts of the functioning of the body and the mind.

Precisely speaking, a tsubo is basically a whirlpool of Ki, which would appear akin to a vase-shaped churn with an entrance/ opening directing into a more contracted neck that subsequently broadens into an extensive belly.

Every major channel has several 'fixed' or permanent tsubos. Observations carried out and documented through several generations have led to the naming of every tsubo. In addition, each of them has been assigned a number and their action on the body as well as the mind when invigorated has been identified. Apart from the permanent or 'fixed' tsubos, there are also several 'transient' or temporary tsubos that appear and follow the channels or meridians flanked by the fixed tsubos. They actually crop up at places and when they do since there is an absence of Ki or there is too much accumulation of Ki at any particular place as well as the precise point (acupoint) corresponding the time alongside the channel. Locations where there is a shortage of Ki, the tsubo would experience inertness and drained, as they lack in energy as well as suppleness. In effect, in such locations the Ki may be rigid and dead or lifeless as well as unresponsive.

On the other hand, at times Ki may possibly be flaccid as well as unresponsive on the surface, but firm and insensible much deeper inside. Places where Ki is obstructed and, therefore, congested or overloaded on the exterior, it is possible that there would be a sensation of completeness, rigidity and restriction at that particular place inside the body. Pain when someone touches these locations is common in such cases. Then again, occasionally the complete areas will have a warm sensation, while the areas lacking in Ki would feel cold.

Ki balance

In order to stay alive, it is necessary to have enough Ki to facilitate our body and the mind to response in some manner, while to be dead is having a deficit of Ki resulting in no reaction at all. The manner in which Ki is reflected in our activities as well as reactions is dependent on what the outside aspects are converge on us, what exactly our pressing requirements are and also the manner in which we are comfortable with ourselves both emotionally as well as physically. Therefore, in the event of us possessing enough Ki and being totally contended, our Ki will be uniformly distributed all through our body, easily transferred by means of our network of Ki channels, providing us with the manifestation of being at rest.

Conversely, the moment there is any requirement, for instance hunger, we are normally not in a condition of total contention then. When we are hungry, it denotes that our body requires food. In such cases, the Ki flowing within our body will accumulate or build up in particular areas as well as functions of our body and mind, and, thus, into precise Ki channels as well as tsubos, to assist us to obtain food. In case the food is at a distance of only an arm's length or close by, it will require a small amount of Ki to be distributed to enable us to consume the food. On the other hand, if we require catching, killing, preparing, guarding and then consuming our food, the Ki inside of us will need to be reorganized much more. When the hunger has been satiated, once again the distribution of Ki within us will return to its balanced condition.

As a result, every action and, hence, all movements of Ki inside a living organism is caused by requirement and the changeability from the need to satisfaction continues till one is alive. This is absolutely usual and it elucidates the reason why Ki flows more in specific channels/ meridians and tsubos at any time. Provided that Ki returns to its usual balance, we are in a healthy state. Nevertheless, if Ki get trapped or caught and cannot return to its normal balance, we start feeling sick and diseases appear. In fact, it is possible for Ki to be stuck owing to our understanding as well as our association with our environment is so much complicated that we are always not necessarily clearly aware of our precise requirements, neither do we known when those requirements have been satisfied. Therefore, what is of concern to a professional shiatsu practitioner is the impact this has on the supply of Ki inside the body of the recipient and what he/ she is able to do to assist in retuning Ki to its normal balance again.

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