Staying In Touch Through Unusual Times (1)

Greetings to all of you who check in on this blog-page from time to time.


Last year was quite a challenging period for me on a personal level – I needed to concentrate my energies on some necessary life-changes and so this site only carried minimal information on my courses, plus one short article. Times move on, however, and I am happy to be returning to the field with renewed vision and energy.

Reflections on Covid 19:  Opportunities for Change (1)

Recovering the Way of Touch; We Can Do This Now

Meanwhile the world community itself is now facing a new challenge and the times are changing yet again. We must respond as a community and look after our common interests. We will have to learn new ways to care. Those of us who are dedicated to the manual therapies will find ourselves temporarily disadvantaged and inhibited, at least in the professional sphere. Yet, in spite of the limitations, by adapting and incorporating proper protocols we will be able to continue in some way. We are social beings, and isolation does not favour the human organism. Let’s accept the challenges and reach out to people in whatever way we can.

Especially in this moment, we have the chance to turn our gaze in another direction, humbly shifting our focus  to the smaller domestic circle of the home. Here, where we live with our families, is where touch has been intuitively practiced as the simplest and most natural of healing methods in  traditional societies down the centuries. Folk medicine has really been the source of much medical knowledge, only recently eclipsed and regulated by the scientific approach. Nowadays we are completely accustomed to seek medical treatment from professionals, that is only right and proper, and it is also the route we usually take when we need other kinds of therapy. But now’s the time to remember that the formal manual therapies have no monopoly on touch. We can do a lot for each other in the home, among friends and family members. Healing through empathic touch is part of our human heritage.

There has been a long tradition in Japan for sharing simple massage techniques for the relief of common ailments, aches, pains and bruises. Within families it was often practiced between grandparents and grandchildren, strengthening inter-generational bonds as well as providing much welcome comfort. Shiatsu, a new form of traditional therapy in the first half of the twentieth century, became very popular among the ordinary people. It was promoted in many new books for household management, food preparation and health. It’s simple pressure-point methods were easily demonstrated, and Namikoshi famously extended knowledge of Shiatsu and traditional exercise through a series of television programmes.

It is paradoxical that these valuable skills have been gradually ignored and lost in many of today’s highly developed societies. As we’ve became more sophisticated we have also been seduced by the material comforts, instant gratification, excitement and entertainment that our technological advances offer us, culminating in the recent developments of the smart phone. This sleek little invention hooks our senses into a separate a virtual world, where we often feel the need to project an idealised version of ourselves, one that may not correspond to our lived reality. It does keep us in touch with each other, but through a screen. Meanwhile, our very own body, the most sensitive and responsive thing we possess, the real base of our existence, remains for many of us a burden and a mystery, poorly understood, even alien to our personal life and ambitions. We love it for the pleasure, but hate it for the pain. Physical contact is the primary means by which we bond with each other, but touch is also the sense that carries the most weight of taboo in our society. Our need for individual respect and safety requires this reinforcement. But we lose out when established customs isolate us from needed touch. A healthy upbringing should include a good foundation in the norms of intimacy, one that helps us recognise and manage our own needs and those of others. Through sensitive and caring touch we can understand better the the middle ground where real life takes place ……..  An open field, criss-crossed by many paths, touch connects us all at deep levels within our family and and community.

At this time, then, when wider social contacts are necessarily curtailed, let’s recognise its power for good, its healing potential, as something we can offer each other within the closer circles of the family home or in the apartments we share with fellow students or working colleagues. All common sense precautions can still be taken, but if we are living together in the same space, we can find a moment for shared touch.

Suggest it first, and get agreement. Then sit with someone and take their hand, just holding the hand for a few moments is very reassuring. Now, with genuine curiosity we can explore and massage the hand, slowly pressing the palm, the back of the hand and the spaces between the fingers – what a great feeling of care and support that will transmit. Our immune system responds to all such gestures. We can work on the feet in a similar manner – using massage and pressure, going slowly, following our intuition. This little routine, easily offered and freely given, can be the basis of experiment.  It’s a favour that easily be returned. Swapping is fun.

If someone is suffering from shortness of breath, the cause may be some pre-existing underlying condition, such as asthma, or it may be due to a recent infection, an ordinary cough or cold. It could also be triggered by anxiety. In any case, by the simple act of leaning on their shoulders with our open hands, we may be able to help a person to breath out. By maintaining steady pressure, perhaps leaning a little more strongly with the out-breath, we can help to slow down and deepen the breathing cycle. Then, we can also press firmly into the zone between the shoulder blades with our palms or stretched thumbs – literally touching the breath, following its rhythm. This  transmits a feeling of confidence and care via the nervous system that enables our metabolism to respond positively, whatever condition is actually affecting us. It can be taught to others and reinforced with other simple techniques by any of us who have more experience. If you feel this friendly work brings you too close, wear the face mask while doing it. While some physical intimacy remains open to us, the healing power of touch is there for us all.

If you are trained in Shiatsu, Seiki or Qigong, the topics central to this website, please consider sharing your knowledge, as appropriate, in the simplest spirit of companionship. . . . Seiki encourages us just to touch, listen and feel, while breathing together. Even if you are a total novice to any manual healing, the pages of this website are addressed to you.

Please enjoy browsing through the post history here. For information on our Seiki Summer Residential in Southern Spain visit: Information on other courses will be added soon.

My book – “The New Book of Shiatsu” is available in print form or as an e-book download.

NOTE: The practices suggested here are meant principally as a creative activity for mutual help while we are well – not as a way to combat new infections nor as a substitute for conventional medical attention and treatment.