Friday, 22 December 2006

Confidence & letting go

People ask me, "How's the shiatsu course going?" And I'll tend to say, "Great, thanks!"
To be honest, I have times when I'm not so sure. I get good feedback when I practice on my willing volunteers. And I'm getting occasional moments of clarity with my hara diagnosis.
However, I'm just not feeling so confident with it at the moment. I assume it's probably going to be like that off & on. I guess I'm just looking at ways to pull myself back up. Thinking of concentrating on a particular channel for the festive season. Maybe some thing to aid the digestion!

Think I've had a mini-breakthrough with aikido.
Practised letting more out & it's weird, don't feel like I'm doing any thing different, but people are hitting the mat much harder. I'm doing a presentation for my green belt in January, & I'm glad I'll be able to show some progression from orange belt. During my last class, I know I did some movements with either my eyes shut or pulling a face. I was practising with two 3rd Dans & a 1st Dan, so I could hardly hurt them. Even still, I was finding it hard as I haven't practised at that level very much. Is that green belt level??

Monday, 20 November 2006


I did some shiatsu this morning.
I could feel some changes which I guess I can't quite quantify. I've recently been working on the Heart channel with this person & some thing's shifted. It's not as simple to say it's less jitsu than it was (even though that's prob the case). It's different...

I find that in aikido too. Maybe it's that I don't have enough experience in either shiatsu or aikido. It's all to do with feeling too, that's where the difference is & maybe that's why I'm a tad confused? I like logic & control, & I guess I steered away from this feeling too much in the past. I'm starting to use feeling in decision-making too. Some thing simple like which way to walk home in the dark. Brain said the isolated & dark path was fine, but my centre said I don't think so. So I went with my centre which I'm sure was the wise choice.

I've previously thought emotion could equal weakness. Crying & anger definitely not good. However, I think without emotion & being more in touch with myself, my shiatsu will lack depth & understanding. 'Going through the motions' perhaps.
I have been a bit scared about shiatsu & aikido. Maybe it's that I've never been sure what I'm capable of. Practicing professionally or facing a live blade will certainly push me.

Wednesday, 8 November 2006

Slightly off topic video

Been having a nose around the Bestest Blog of All-Time & came across this.
'The little girl giant woke up one morning, got a shower from the Sultan's Elephant, & wandered off to play in the park' -

Apologies if every one & their dog has seen this, but I think it's amazing!
More info at

Wednesday, 1 November 2006

Stage 3 & stuff

Well, I started my Stage 3 part of the course on 9th/10th September. One week end a month. Seems like a good way to slow down the amount of info I need to take on board.

Had exams for TCM (Yin & Yang, 5 elements etc.) & anatomy, which I both passed much to my delight & astonishment! (why can't I believe in myself a little more some times?)
We now have a group of 8 students, which means more different types of bodies to practise on. Lots of tongues to stare at...

I'm still trying to make shiatsu part of my life, not quite there yet, methinks. Practised on 2 people this week, both very different & I enjoyed both sessions. Guess that's an important aspect to this.
Did shiatsu tonight & for the first time I was very aware I wasn't thinking of any thing! No idle thoughts of what I need to do tomorrow etc. I was relaxed, breathing deeply & the closest I can explain as 'listening with my hands'. Sounds a little odd to me, but I suppose I was trying to work with any feedback I was getting.

Aikido's been going very well & been enjoying class. Looks like I'll be a green belt before Christmas. This does surprise me as I can still consider myself a beginner. However, I do notice most times now if there's no connection with my partner. This does say some thing to me, as previously I would've carried on trying a move regardless.

I need to have more faith in my ability to do shiatsu & aikido. It's not some thing that will happen over night. I need a sign that says 'Work in progress'. Then again, who isn't?

Work has appeared as well. Going to try my hand at being a care assistant at a local residential home. I think it will be great experience for shiatsu, as it is much more people-orientated than finance. I kinda expect to return to finance at a later stage (pays better), but it's also more skills for me. I'm looking forward to it, but it's also a bit of an unknown quantity as I haven't done a job like that before.

Thursday, 17 August 2006

Aikido summer school

Wow, from 5th-12th August was our summer school all week, taught by Maruyama Sensei! (

On 5th-6th, there was a Yuki course at our dojo, which is (I think) reiki, kiatsu, soutai & yuki. I am going to do an additional Soutai course with my shiatsu school which means I can get insurance & practise this before becoming fully qualified in shiatsu. Cool!
Wonderful 2 days which is very relevant to my study. I also gained enough courage to ask Maruyama Sensei if I could practise shiatsu on him, to which he said yes!! (both very exciting & scary)

7th-12th was taught at a local school & consisted of aikido, tanto, bokken & jo. To be honest, I enjoyed this part of the course too, but it was also hard work. To my amazement, I started forward rolling in movement on the Monday which was great & I did a bit of a dance on the mat after the first one! However, it did mean I bashed myself a fair number of times due to lumpy rolling. Then I hit my head later during the week & had to be seen to by my chiropractor who practices, Sensei, & his wife. This all wasn't any one else just me not relaxing enough & then being a bit surprised, followed by a bit dazed... A bit of a rest from my rolling, hot baths & arnica cream, & I was ready to go back for more.
Wonderful week which included my birthday as well! I don't always find aikido the easiest thing, but it seems to work on a completely different level to the goju ryu karate I did before.

On the Sunday after summer school, I practised shiatsu on Maruyama Sensei & his wife. I don't think I can still quite believe it... They were both lovely, I wasn't nervous once there & they gave me very positive feedback. I was a bit nervy when I woke up & trying not to think how Sensei is one of the few surviving direct pupils of the founder of aikido etc., etc.!
Some years ago, I would never had the confidence to even consider doing some thing like that :)

Stage 2 course

Well, I've given this a bit of a rest as it seemed to be becoming a bit of a chore.
Stage 2 of my practioner course covered:
  • Therapeutic stretching & cross fibre techniques
  • Vital substances (Qi, Body Fluids Blood & Essence)
  • Anatomy (muscles)
  • 12 channels (Liver, Heart Protector etc.) & their relevant points, techniques etc.
  • Practical feedback & the usual Qi Qong practice.
Many of the days were spent focusing on a particular channel & how to work it in the best position (supine, prone or side).

As usual, it was an excellent 2 weeks teaching by Chris & Andrew. However, there seemed a lot to take in & I found them quite tiring. On the first day, myself & a fellow student were agreeing that we both felt a bit overwhelmed by the amount to remember & also the speed with which we have covered it. It is fascinating, but even still lots to learn! I know the day will come when I just find Liver 8 without thinking, but it's still some way off...

Rather than do Stage 3 intensively, we have all signed up to study one week end a month. This will slow down the pace of the course considerably. Instead of having approx. 6 weeks to practice on 20 people, I now will have until next June to practice on a further 30. Phew! Starting off studying in blocks of weeks has been great, but I think we're all more than happy to give ourselves a bit more time.

Sunday, 25 June 2006


I have recently finished a very interesting book 'Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ' by Daniel Goleman.

It talks about 'flow' - when you are relaxed, yet highly focused & it feels so good because every thing is aligned & in harmony. I know I haven't experienced this many times in my life, as previously concentration was always paired with some level of anxiety & trying too hard.
My yellow belt grading in aikido was definitely this flow. Completely focused, but relaxed & very aware - brilliant feeling!
I guess I want to experience more of this for both my aikido & shiatsu. The book says it's when your brain activity actually decreases & every thing comes together.
For example, one surgeon was so focused on his operation, that he didn't notice part of the ceiling collapsing in!!

I passed my motorbike test in 1994 & only sold my bike last year. I know that I would normally be in flow when riding. Some how I don't get that when driving my car, but I guess I only have 5 years car driving experience in comparison.
Riding a bike like that is fantastic. It's this state of heightened awareness that make every thing so easy & I've also heard it likened to the trance-like state you enter during hypnotherapy.
I guess it's also relevant to scuba diving too. The more slowly you breathe the longer you dive, but you still need to be aware of your air/equipment & surroundings. I still breathe too quickly, but that'll come with experience.

I miss riding a bike. I assume it has an awful lot to do with this flow, so I'd like to experience it more else where. There are wonderful moments in aikido where my brain doesn't interfere, I'm relaxed & all of a sudden my partner goes flying off to return with a big smile on their face.

Friday, 16 June 2006

Intensive courses & temping

Slightly different to first planned, I did my Stage 1 by the residential option. Except I commuted each day as it's only a 40 min drive. This means you pack a huge amount of study into 2 weeks, instead of say once a week for 12 weeks (another option).

Going back to my temping job was a shock to say the least. And I've been getting a bit nervy, not even really anxious. I've only just worked out what's going on. I've just finished week 1 of my Stage 2 course today (more to follow). I think I had thoughts that I should know Stage 1 stuff 100% before I start the next part. However, there' s so much info & really, we'll practice stuff again & again until it's 2nd nature. I suppose all my other purely academic courses have been study, take exams before you move on.

Work is becoming a problem... I've never been this bored before, & seriously it's started to get to me & been tiring me out. After an intensive week of study, I feel better & more full of energy than when I started. Well, I'm going to talk to the boss on Monday, & if need be, leave & try another placement else where. Weirdly, work isn't my priority at the moment, so I can't let it interfere with my study & general well-being either. It's just to support my shiatsu & aikido habits! It's odd to consider work in this way, & it's taken me a while to adjust away from the career way of thinking. I'm sure other folk have had the same thing with career changes, especially moving into a completely different area.

Stage 1 course

Well, after attending the introductory day in January, I wait to hear about dates to study.
All of a sudden there's a possibility of a course starting in March, arrgh! (I was planning for the autumn) So it's a case of giving up my job & moving house in time (including getting another tenant).
Ta da!! All done, & after a bit of 'will the course run or won't it' business, I'm due to start on 27th March for a week & then again on 8th May for the next week. I even manage to get a temping job that fits in too.
Some people have asked me, "So, is shiatsu some thing you've always wanted to do?" And I've got some odd looks when the reply is, "No, only since January".

Stage 1 is also called the foundation course, unsurprisingly. We also start to learn Qi Gong to help increase sensitivity & ki/chi.
Foundation is made up of practical elements:
  • prone (back) techniques
  • supine (front)
  • side
  • Kidney & Bladder channels (inc. theory)
  • what is shiatsu?
  • basics about ki, channels & tsubos (gateways/cavities where ki can open to the surface)
  • intro to Yin & Yang
  • anatomy - bones & joints
  • intro to kyo/jitsu (fullness or excess/deficiency or emptiness of ki)
  • intro to Five Elements.
There's lots of practicing, talking & feedback during the course. Our heads are full, we're knackered, but satisfied & excited when the course is over.
A major plus is that the dates for Stage 2 are all agreed & paid for at the end too.

This is certainly not like any other course I've done before...

Saturday, 3 June 2006

Why blog?

Some one recommended blogging on the HealthyPages forum, as a way to advertise & start a web presence.
Guess I'm curious about the whole blogging phenomenon too; is it just navel gazing? Do I really have any thing interesting to say about aikido or shiatsu?
For all I know, all or most of my visitors did 'next blog' & then immediately skipped to the next!
Any constructive comments would be greatly appreciated for this blogging newbie :)

Monday, 29 May 2006

Introductory day 14/01/06

Well, after deciding shiatsu was it, I spent time researching on the web about how to start. I found that the European Shiatsu School (Marlborough, Hants) were doing £10.00 introductory days - BINGO!
Previously, making decisions has always been very logical & 'head' orientated. I would have compiled a shortlist, visited a number & looked at pros & cons. However, this time it was very much 'it it feels right, then I'll study there'. (The school does have an excellent reputation any way)

Lovely building tucked away off the main high street, white walls & beams inside. Turns out the teacher also teaches aikido. I come for shiatsu & we're doing unbendable arm, thinking of our centre & weight underside! I take this as a good sign.
The other people are lovely & we do some of the basics, like baby walking & palming. I'm hooked, & this is the right school for me. I buy a book, sign up at the end of the day & go home to rabbit at top speed about it to my boyfriend!

Tuesday, 23 May 2006

A little about aikido

Well, I've realised that aikido's going to sneak into this blog, so thought I'd do a quick introduction.
I've been practicing for just over 2 years now at a wonderful dojo (see link). I hadn't planned to mention it, but I think it will be relevant as they have much in common. Even when I'm fully qualified in shiatsu, I know that my practicing aikido will help progress my shiatsu further. More highly developed awareness is going to improve both.

I haven't found practicing aikido the easiest thing. It seems to help stir things up to the surface that have been lurking in the depths for too long. That said, for me, time on the mat is a fantastic way to learn to be in the present moment & interact with a partner. When my brain doesn't get in the way, I love the feeling & shapes aikido makes.

I'm going to class tomorrow night & really looking forward to it. I haven't been for 2 weeks due to shiatsu training & illness, so I'm raring to go!

Tuesday, 16 May 2006

In a different career

Odd how life can change direction. Figured I'd be a qualified accountant by now. Would have done a good job too. Then considered the whole computer auditor scene.

I have this desire to help people, & have never known how to shape or channel that. I still haven't really figured it out. What's my proper motive? Don't think it's world domination (I'd need a waxed moustache & some great steam-punk machines for that!)

Studying shiatsu is a bit scary for the analytical/logical part of me. I'm going to have to make a connection with people. I think it has a potential to be very powerful & have a serious effect like acupuncture had on me. I think that means I have a responsibility to study hard & become a damned-fine practitioner.

Sunday, 14 May 2006

How come I'm doing this?

Well, I had acupuncture years ago, which was a positive & amazing experience. Went for a physical reason & it had such an impact on my emotional state. Touched me very deeply.
Didn't have the confidence then to think I could do some thing like that.

Skip to about 2 years ago & just felt I had to look into it again. I was pretty much decided on studying acupuncture & herbal medicine, & planned to visit colleges to decide where to study.
Then in a half awake/sleep state, I realised it had to be some thing directly using my hands. Grumbling under my breath, I started researching different therapies & came across a description of shiatsu. I had such a strong feeling from my centre/hara that I could not ignore it. First decision I've made properly using this freaky centre-thing, so tried not to listen at first. Sensibly decided to listen after a bit of a fight.

Exactly 1 week later I'm on a day's introductory course, which seemed bizarrely easy...

Blogger & shiatsu newbie

Well, a beginning... Never blogged before, & have decided to write down my experiences in shiatsu.

Shiatsu is both a form of physical manipulation and a means towards the growth of body, mind and spirit, combining a finely tuned intuition, understanding of oriental diagnosis, posture and breathing. The unique quality of Shiatsu is that it emphasises efficient bodily movement and perception from one's true physical and spiritual centre.

Shiatsu technique involves stretching, leverage and leaning your weight into various parts of the recipient's body to encourage greater harmony of energy, circulation, flexibility and postural integrity. Many of the techniques are applied to the same system of energy channels or 'meridians' as used in acupuncture, although in Shiatsu each channel is felt to cover a greater area of the body.

Explanation courtesy of the European Shiatsu School