I have come to identify, and endeavour to carry, 7 principles as I practise shiatsu. They have been arrived at partly as a result of my aikido training and in part through a teacher who I had the good fortune to study under in Japan many years ago. I have found their relevance in shiatsu to be valid beyond doubt. They can be divided into 2 groups: the first one is the internal landscape, which comprises of: weight underside, extend, relax, and focus. The second group is the external landscape or the anatomy of touch, which comprises of: depth, direction, and timing.

I explore these principles in depth in my book, Touch of Awareness. My reason for introducing them here is to ask the question: What is the path we follow when we wish to explore shiatsu beyond theory and technique to a practice that take us from human doings towards human beings?

Some years ago I was running a workshop on the 7 principles of shiatsu. At the conclusion of the weekend one of the participants came up to me and said, “It is so great to get back to the basics”. I received the comment as it was offered in gratitude. However, it struck me that the principles, for me, are not ‘the basics’, but actually the highest form of practice. They are what takes shiatsu into the realm of a spiritual practice, asking me to extend myself beyond shiatsu as a profession and into the honouring of the art.

These 7 principles, for me, form the framework that I use to guide my study and to gauge my progress. Do you have a framework that orientates and guides your practise? If you wish to take shiatsu beyond a profession, and use it as a vehicle of self-discovery, having a conscious framework provides the scaffolding on which to build.

Honour the art
Russell Makoto
Shiatsu Shihan

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