Shiatsu stands on the ability of its practitioners. Our success as practitioners is assisted by the reputation of our art. The energy we give to shiatsu, is returned in multiple ways. To honour the art of shiatsu we are asked to continually hone our shiatsu skills as well as develop personally. This requires us to consistently dedicate time and energy toward our internal landscape and health, as well as our technical ability. In this context shiatsu becomes a spiritual path, in that it places us in a larger context. I once asked a Buddhist monk, who is a profoundly dedicated meditation practitioner, how he was able to be so consistent in a personal practice over many decades. His reply, I feel, is very relevant to the shiatsu practitioner. Two of the things he said are: make your practice central in your life and; develop a supportive community.
Most often the shiatsu practitioner works from home or in a clinic setting where they are the only shiatsu person, if not the only person, practising there. We meet our client one-on-one. Then, after a session the client leaves, often with very little feedback other than a dreamy smile, we find ourselves debriefing the session internally, without peer input, or even, not at all. In some ways, practising shiatsu can be a lonely profession.
I have found one of the most potent tools for learning and improving shiatsu skills as well as to stay engaged with shiatsu, is to receive treatments. Exchanging sessions with other practitioners, particularly those more experienced, is not only enjoyable but necessary for our shiatsu health. Actively developing and maintaining a supportive shiatsu community not only maintains enthusiasm, but provides fertile ground for growth as a practitioner. This requires us to reach out to other practitioners. Sometimes this is not easy when we live have other commitments and interests, or live in a rural or remote location. There are alternatives that can bridge the gaps between contact on the mat, such as books, videos and nowadays, online connections. However, nothing compares to laying on the mat in the hands of a good shiatsu therapist.
Honour the art