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Inner Life: Reflections on 2019 Shiatsu Symposium at Heartwood


Where to begin? “Treating the Unseen Landscape: Emotions, Circulation and Organs” was an utterly transformative experience I simply must acknowledge.


Learning new ways of listening, can radically alter the art of expression too…


*Disclaimer: This was my first professional week-long experiential for manual therapy, and as much as I had helped get the word out for the event (I serve as a work study student at the school) I couldn’t begin to have sufficiently prepared for the revelations that unfolded through the lectures and work I was groomed to provide, and ready to receive. In short, this is an exuberant post, for many reasons, prepare thyself.



Alice Whieldon’s course, “Sei-ki and the Emotional Body” supplied us with literal bodymindsoul stretches (including Kasuga practices) and several demonstrations of the technique during which she, “[worked] with distortions in the mental and emotional fields to help people recognize their underlying condition and loosen the armor in which we [encased] ourselves, […] This [was] achieved through close observation of the mind/body distortion with the addition of skilled touch. Underlying health [began] to reassert itself as the distortion [moved] more into the background and [relaxed].” (From Alicewhieldon.com) Much of our time was spent in contemplating or aspiring to “non-doing”, and our discussions centered around the necessity to be clear and un-intentional in providing the work. In a tiny nutshell, I gather the objective of Sei-ki, is to serve as a mirror that amplifies the receiver’s form’s inclination of movement. This simple, deeply ineffable work has made it’s impression upon me, inviting a different expression of following than I’ve yet understood.


The next two days were spent upon what I’ve come to call the starship with our charming captain, Carola Beresford-Cooke. Carola steered our discussion of the Triple Heater and Fire Element in Emotional Experience, and our collective work explored the compartments of the three burners. We came to appreciate the uniqueness of the Triple Heater in that it is categorized in the text to be of “no-form - unable to be divided further”, and functions as a regulator for how fluid flow passes through the compartments. Given it’s expression as something akin to our fascial network, the TH’s role in protection and the pericardium’s function in bringing close that which is heart-fully nourishing, was thematic throughout the course. We also explored treatment techniques of tending to the pelvic girdle, and in discussion, noted the commonality of the Chakra’s and the three dantians spaced between the four gates (delineations of the burners and conception and governing vessels).

We performed an exercise comparing several form’s expressions of the Lower danteans Jing, the Middle Dantian’s Qi and the Upper Dantian’s Shen under our fingers. Additionally , treating and exploring connection with the Central Vessel through gentle extremity pulls, treating along the side of the body - was truly vibratory yet re-assuring.


Lastly, Joanna Flores, L.Ac., M.Ac.O.M., Dipl. ABT provided an incredibly dense seminar, wherein we looked at western anatomy and practiced feeling targeted areas, and slowly integrated the practice of shiatsu with visceral manipulation methods. With case examples and shared testimony, we learned of restrictions in the pericardium, pleura, and peritoneum, and were introduced to assessment strategies to track outcomes of our interventions. This course supplied dimensional perspective of the organ layering, and supplied physical affirmations of the Chinese medicine theory of Heart, pericardium, and triple heater’s network with commanding knowledge of attachment and trajectories, and Joanna

guided us with modeling the “specificity of touch needed to address even deep ligamentous restriction, while continuing to inform our work with the expansive awareness cultivated in previous modules.”


Additionally, the opportunity to share space with practitioners from all over the world, at various places in their healing professional journeys, has filled me with such hope and inspiration. I cannot recommend the experience of Shiatsu Symposium highly enough!


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