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How Japanese Shiatsu Massage – Utilises Natures Seasonal Elements

Written by: Nicky Abell-Francis, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Nicky Abell-Francis

Knowing how nature harmonises itself, allows us to rebalance our bodies naturally as the seasons come and go. Emotionally and physically, we need to observe what are the natural laws of the wild. Learn how you can reverse feeling under parr, before more serious conditions manifest. Explore how rebalance occurs with this ancient oriental bodywork.

A statue of buddha

What is Japanese shiatsu massage?

Japanese shiatsu massage is a fantastic treatment looking to natures cycles to heal. Western and Eastern medicine work quite differently. Western working with statistics, artificial drugs, cutting out or replacing damaged parts. In the past we didn’t have these skills or options. Medical systems were wise men or women, highly respected in their community, with knowledge of what nature had to offer. They generally had a compassionate, psychic or emphatic personality. They tuned into the laws of nature in creating a prescription. In the far east traditional Chinese medicine pulse diagnosis and tongue diagnosis were practised regularly. Allowing an insight into the health of the body. What was required for harmony. A lot could be assessed from these skills.

There were some wild and very strange options as well prescribed. Traditional Chinese medicine focuses on all things being opposites. Negative and positive poles, dark and light. Hot and cold. We do not stop day and go straight into night the two will blend. The light fading to dusk to inky darkness to dawn. Developing into bright morning light of the day to come.

Shiatsu elements

Japanese shiatsu massage uses the five elements, traditional medicine tongue diagnosis, pulse and acupressure theory. We initially analyse where the most prominent parts of the body are requiring release or support. If energy is depleted in the body, it's yin in nature, needing support. If full and restless it's yang in nature requiring calming or draining.

Current symptoms and signs the client displays are compared with the characteristics of the elements of water, wood, fire, earth and metal.

The kidney and bladder meridians are linked to the water element. A western mind can see the connection. Liver and Gallbladder are classified under wood which is harder to connect without a deeper understanding of the diagnostics of traditional Chinese medicine.

Treatment involves slow pressure over the body using thumbs, knees or elbows. Focusing on acupressure points, the same locations that acupuncturists apply needles to. Allowing access to support weakness or move stagnation of qi or blood. A little akin to an electrical circuit in a house.

This ancient theory of the diagnostics of traditional Chinese medicine is well respected and produces dramatic results particularly on more troublesome conditions that can't be resolved. Japanese shiatsu massage is widely used in other countries and the principles of both cultures are used.

Toxic overload symptoms

Water can become stagnant when still. The body mimics this in real life. Becoming stiff, bloated with water retention. Producing swollen ankles, the blood stagnates causing pain, limbs may feel like a dead weight. In nature to purify and energise the water we need to stir it up, allow it to start to flow again. Allowing plant and animal life to thrive. Just as our bodies organs need to function well with free-flowing blood. A comparison to our own water supply within.

How we can balance the five shiatsu elements

Winter is associated with the water element

We feel the cold more, gets in our bones as they say. We hibernate, sit huddled over the fire. Drawn to hot drinks, heavier rich food. It’s essential to avoid becoming that dark, toxic pool. Movement is the solution. Try to wake early and get out into natural light as soon as possible. This aids depression and low mood. Fresh air however cool encourages us to become alert. Waking the senses up avoiding that fuzzy heavy head that develops for staying in our overly heated offices and houses.

Diet is very important in Chinese medicine eat with the seasons. What is available is the choice we should include. Hot stews, broths, soups with root vegetables. These nourish the body, warming our constitution. Readily abundant with maximum vitamins. Not enforced growth or travelled miles to the table. Hence organic is preferable. Eating salad all winter we soon develop a low mood, become poorly, cold and lack energy. In some cases, even vegetarians need meat to be strong and feel well occasionally. Our bodies hold on to a lot of knowledge, we just blot this out with our current fads and ideals.

Movement is key with the water element. Any gentle rotational movement of the limbs and joints with pressure applied gently but swiftly along the bladder meridian line has a stimulating effect. Personal actions could be daily Tai chi. A slow movement-based exercise cultivating energy. Observing a class, it appears effortless but experiencing a class you will see it has the ability to work all the joints, allowing the synovial fluid to flow and the breath to calm. Stretching in a gentle manner through dynamic movement. Blood flow starts to oxygenate areas that have become tight or compressed. Moving fluid build-up.

If the client has a lot of symptoms and emotional problems that seem related to the water element, we follow the rules. Gentle exercise being important to warm the body as well as through diet, so we have good quality enriched blood to nourish our organs. Pressing acupressure points is akin to releasing a dam for water to flow. Each having numerous functions. Encouraging movement in areas the blood gushes. Flushing excess fluid away.

Coldness in the body can be a major symptom of the water element affecting health. Warmth can be introduced by using moxa (an Asian plant related to mug wort.) This gently heats down into the meridian channel. Allowing warmth to spread throughout the body at these key access points.

Wood is associated with the spring element

Wood has a very strong connection with wind and spring. Flexibility is key and required in the body to bend and move forward. Just like the sap of the trees as they produce new leaves. Soft and yielding. Wind darts and changes direction. Being calm or fierce. Ruffling things strongly. It can agitate the mind for some a breezy day is exhilarating for others it is irritating. Causing earache, headaches, agitation. Internal wind diagnosis is similar. No relation to intestinal wind but to how wind reacts in nature. Facial tics, aliments that chop and change. Aches and pains that come and go. An imitation of wind and its actions.

Introduce sour and green foods into your diet, lemon juice, liver cleansing herbs such as milk thistle, green tea. Cut down on heat-forming substances like alcohol. This can aggravate the emotion of wood anger. As we know in life some people can enrage suddenly when indulging. If the wood element is yang full in nature this will show up.

Rest a priority the liver cleanses at night around 2 to 4 pm if the mind is active, dreaming or restless sleep is a strong indicator the wood element is not at ease. Calm the mind, try to go over problems and put them to bed before you go to bed. Write a list and put aside not to focus on till refreshed the next day.

Fire is associated with high summer

Generally, fire can affect your mood and temperature. Our thoughts become stuck in toxic overload with emotional heart-break, high blood pressure issues leading to heart concerns, possibly making us feel light headed, even fainting. Emotional outbursts linking back to anger the emotion of the Wood element. Seeing the five seasonal elements and their connections we can see a cascade of reactions around the chain. Just like nature.

Use water elements. Swimming being cooler and far less physical than the gym for exercise, calming yin yoga. Fire conditions in the body can be cooled and reduced in intensity by using the power of water. Use this factor to balance the body. Cool water immersion is very big at the moment. Not to be taken without advice but an option to consider for future balancing.

Reduce stimulants immediately avoid coffee, alcohol, hot spicy meals. Hydrate well. Cool beverages like chamomile/peppermint tea, coconut water. Introduce bitter-tasting foods such as rocket, curly endive salads and dark chocolate.

Reduce stress in any way possible. Meditation, walk in the evening when cooler if summer time. Listen to calming music.

Earth is associated with late summer

Earth can portray toxic overload in numerous ways from indigestion, heart burn to weak, flaccid muscles. Fire can scorch earth in nature. In our bodies heat in the stomach causes acid to rise creating heart burn. Maybe developing from working hard, using alcohol, caffeine as a crutch. Ultimately aggravating the gut walls causing inflammation and stress hormones to surge. This affects body temperature, hot flushes, rage agitating the mind with angry outbursts. Leading us back round to Wood element emotion of anger and frustrations. A far-reaching level of toxic overload symptoms to deal with. The natural cycle of nature.

The person would feel very under par, with major organs under stress if left to continue. Japanese shiatsu massage works beautifully to balance the five elements. Using traditional medicine tongue diagnosis can reveal so much of the body’s inner health initially. Following on with intuitive questioning, delves deeper into what lies beneath. Not unlike the format of coaching.

Get outside and walk barefoot, ground yourself, meditate, do some gardening. Nurture is the word to follow. What has caused you to become off track. Me time, pop in the diary. Warming herbs to aid the gut ginger, paprika, yellow foods swede, sweetcorn, pumpkin, carrots, sweet potato akin to the harvest table.

Metal is associated with autumn

People become stuck, unyielding in their views noticeable in business. Possibly stuck in grief or depression. Like metal it is hard and cold. Emotions maybe detached from reality. Overcontrolling and rigid with goals or teams. The art here to balance the lungs and large intestine the organs under the Metal element. They can feel overwhelmed and unable to change or move forward.

Use Qi-gong or deep breathing exercises along with stretch work to the upper body allows movement. One option is to declutter your life. Relationships, house or work that are causing you to retreat or can't handle life. This allows the body to think and absorb more freely. Introduce more warming, pungent spicy foods to clear the chest. Connect with people more. Get out, join something new. Introduce pungent, white centred foods shallots, onions, garlic, mushrooms, apples, cauliflower.

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Nicky Abell-Francis Brainz Magazine

Nicky Abell-Francis, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Nicky brings her drive and force to the fore in Functional wellness coach programmes. Specializing in recovery support for specific conditions of ME (CFS), Fibromyalgia & long covid. Her supporting work covers bereaved clients trying to find freedom to move on. Helping to ignite the spark to progress forward once again. Having lost her own husband suddenly, their daughter within months crashed into developing ME(CFS). Nicky went on to train with the Chrysalis Effect programme. Seeing how burnt out & highly stressed clients can tip into crash phase. Developing chronic fatigue and numerous widespread health problems. Over the past ten years Nicky set up her multi therapy clinic.



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