Non-physical touch and energy Pt.2: Never mind the body

February 1st, 2015





‘Healing’, Papa would tell me, ‘is not a science but the intuitive art of wooing nature.’

-W.H. Auden


This week’s blog features an article written by myself and colleague Graeme Docherty for the British Journal of Shiatsu more than half a decade ago. It has never been more relevant to my work. At the same time it has moved on again from many of the descriptions here though they are no less valid for that. The journey continues…


Taking shiatsu off the body

– Where does shiatsu end and non-physical healing techniques begin?

(Jeremy Halpin and Graeme Docherty)



Sun pinch



The practice of shiatsu may be approached from many levels and employ a vast array of techniques. As we become acquainted with them some have a more intrinsic and intuitive appeal than others in accordance with our individual nature and aptitude. A significant watershed for us was the discovery of the two-handed oneness technique in zen shiatsu. Compared to the common techniques of the time including barefoot, hara and macrobiotic shiatsu it made a very strong impression.


All of a sudden it was as if someone had turned on the electricity.


Now after many years in the zen shiatsu playground with these electric gloves it feels as if an imaginary border has been crossed. We may no longer want or need to explain or translate everything that is happening in our shiatsu practice back to meridians, organ energy systems or element phases. This decision, though initially difficult, has been a fantastic awakening and release. We still see everything we do in our clinical practice as shiatsu. However, by opening up for what can be called the Solid Air body (the etheric or energy field) when treating, one may now allow the energy tell its own story.



When the meridians disappear


It’s understandable why non-physical touch in energy work has had such difficulty gaining a foothold in shiatsu. It’s not only a question of pressure but more that the meridians gradually disappear the further one works from the body. As the meridians merge with the etheric fields and dimensions in the Solid air body they become quickly irrelevant and other more interesting and relevant systems emerge. Here the energy takes on a more multi-dimensional form.


No one system rules, there are no absolute truths, only endless energy stories


There a several challenges when working with others in this space. When we leave behind the rules, boundaries and limitations governing the physical universe we encounter another etheric playground that at first seems random and shifting. We face an interlocking puzzle formed by the creative forces of our own thought/dreaming process and those of our clients. Sometimes these meet and are shared. That is, giver and receiver experience common symbolic references or images, sensations, sounds, emotions and so on. Just as often these experiences may seem unrelated.


When working in the solid air and letting a treatment unfold to tell its own story it is possible to access a space that seems almost beyond time. It is important to creatively follow the messages that our interaction with the client’s solid air unearths and openly experience and accept whatever we meet in the course of a treatment. When working like this it’s best to leave fixed ideas and closed systems behind, remain in the here and now and intuitively respond.


The zen oneness in shiatsu is beyond any system. It is the solid air in free flow but it is often seen as an almost freak, unexplainable experience, a kind of peak or climax in a treatment instead of the starting point for a new one.



Tapping into the source


Solid Air as a treatment form has its roots in what may be called infinite planetary knowledge. This seems to be the same knowledge upon which the indigenous tribes of the ancient world based their traditional medicine. It is a natural healing source.


Every one of us shares this knowledge as a kind of pure inner state. This is actually a highly evolved sense that most of us take for granted. When we sit thinking alone drifting in and out of meditative thought waves, we are able to travel at random with our minds to distant places, through countless dimensions. You will naturally experience this state.


The next time you are in the country-side, just stand still and sense your surroundings. Or, simply let your mind relax while looking out the window at the sky. Only the distractions and demands of the three dimensional physical world keep us tethered to our common sense of ‘here’ and ‘now’ in space and time. Here, knowingly or not, we have one of the major keys to our health and understanding.


Galaxy planets


Are not we, as a human race, in a trance most of the time? Zen Shiatsu has oneness as a main unifying force. This state of oneness is very similar to when we are drifting in and out of meditative thought waves.


The difference here is that we drift together with another person in a unified space


In this space there is a timeless dimension universal to all in nature.



Typical client experiences during a Solid Air treatment:


  • ‘Disappearing’ during the treatment with little recollection of time and events.
  • A change in one’s perception of their body’s physical boundaries, shape or density
  • Meeting the therapist. The therapists’ appearance however may be completely different from how they appear in the physical universe.
  • Possessing powers or abilities that seem impossible in the waking state: flying, breathing underwater, travelling in space and so on.
  • Interaction: with other beings, shapes, architecture, animals, plants, previously unknown technologies and the like.
  • Spontaneous physical movement: twitching, spasming, breathing changes, heat and cold sensations, specific movements, spontaneous yoga postures relevant to their physical blockages regardless of previous exposure to these disciplines.


Typical therapist experiences in Solid Air treatment:


  • Finding rifts in the air space around the client
  • Feeling or seeing the contours of the patients’ body differently from their physical one. e.g., long hair on a short haired person, different skull shapes, clothing/costumes/jewelry etc.
  • Finding objects in or around them such as crystals, musical instruments, wings, plants, flowers, animals etc..
  • Seeing the patient in symbolic form such as an animal or a geographical landscape.


Imagination kids


  • ‘Travelling’ in time and space
  • Having the experience of transcending physical laws. e.g., journeying inside the client’s body in order to restructure, reorder, clean or harmonize a function.
  • Experience working with different elements like fire, water, earth and so on.



Effects of Solid Air therapy


  • Ability to deeply relax for the first time
  • Improved sleep patterns
  • Symbolic dreaming and visions
  • Rapid improvement in their symptoms, even those they neglected to report
  • Continuation of treatment reactions for several days afterwards
  • Greater openness and desire to explore the spiritual aspects of their lives



Target groups in Solid Air and Shiatsu


When working with Zen Shiatsu we tend to know when a treatment is effective. We can give all the good advice we can, but if the client does not click into our actual treatment then it has very little lasting effect. There are two groups of clients that seem to benefit more than the others from the Solid Air work. Interestingly enough, the one group benefit from the solid air work because they have difficulty relaxing into the shiatsu space, and the other the exact opposite.


The first group are clients that for one reason or another have great difficulty relaxing when receiving shiatsu. There can be many reasons for this. Normally it can take a couple of treatments to ‘get going’ with a client but with these clients there is seemingly no way in, no matter what we try. Many of this group have been through a deep trauma or shock.


There are also clients in this group that are in a lot of physical pain and have painful symptoms all over their bodies. There comes a much better flow with Solid Air treatments however.


The second group are clients that have been receiving shiatsu over a long period, and their reason for originally coming for treatment is not an issue anymore. Some of these clients are working with their own personal development together with other therapists, and are now using shiatsu as a vehicle. Others are not really conscious of why they are coming for treatment, but can feel that the shiatsu is addressing a central existential issue of some kind.


With them there is already or has been a deep flow in the treatment rhythm but the focus and shine has gone a little out of the treatment and are working with goals that have lost their relevance. The Solid Air work is great for opening a new chapter in the treatment, bringing the freshness and shine back, so new stories can unfold. The doors of change are re-opened and new goals are set.



Access all areas


Making the transition from ‘normal’ shiatsu practice requires an adjustment of the mind. Where traditional concepts like diagnosis, meridians and points needs a centralized focus, access to the Solid Air requires a more diffuse, dream-like sense of watchfulness devoid of expectation or preconceptions. Rather, we fall into and follow more than decide or conclude anything.


Several factors may determine our ability to access a fluid working experience in this state:


  • Our personal attitude or beliefs about multi-dimensional states and concurrent realities.
  • Our attachment to the ‘security’ of our current treatment model.
  • The receptivity of our patients and their willingness to confirm emergent experiences in treatment.
  • None of these are absolute limitations of course as the process is at work regardless.



Bridging the gap: Practice examples for taking Shiatsu off the body


third hand


1. The Third Hand: Probably the best starting point for a zen shiatsu therapist is with the familiar merging of two hands at different areas on the body to become a single field. From there we can take a mental journey in and around the body to see where a ‘third’ hand might be placed to create a three-dimensional field. Once this is established we can take this field off the body, moving around and through our patient as if they were no more or less solid than the space around them.


2. Meridian Scanning: Here we use an open, down-turned palm to scan over a meridian. Imagine holding a small hand-mirror that reflects distortions in the energy of the meridian. We ‘see’ what the down-facing mirror is reflecting without looking directly at it. Instead we use a soft-focus stare straight ahead, like a technician looking at a monitor screen while performing an ultra-sound.


meridian scanning


3. Holding the Ball: This Qi Gong exercise is not only a useful preparation for shiatsu. By stretching and moving this elastic energy ball through and around our client we can pick up on distortion and rifts in the Solid Air. These are often confirmed by the client in the form of involuntary or unconscious movements, changes in breathing and so on. This ball can be expanded to form a chamber that encloses both ourselves and our client completely within the Solid Air.


Holding the ball


Note that the above practices are only a means to build sensitivity. Ultimately all we need is to be present in the multi-dimensional space with our client. This can also include the ‘ non-local space’ between therapist and patient – that is, so called distal healing and the therapeutic application of remote viewing.



Never mind the body…


Once we accept that zen shiatsu is not a ‘body therapy’ (as it is often categorized) but an energy treatment that happens to interface with the body we can appreciate that the leap to non-physical touch in this energy work is really not that far. One thing we have experienced is that, once one leaves the body behind, it’s hard to go back.




Next week, in our final installment in this short series on the nature of energy and non-physical touch in therapeutic applications we will look at other examples of how energy may be used and interact with our perceived physical world.



Till another Monday sees us taking a hands-off approach to our work



Happy Monday then…





© Jeremy Halpin all rights reserved. All images are the author’s own unless otherwise indicated or if the original source is unknown at the time of writing. You can subscribe to this blog by clicking the button in the bottom right hand corner of the page – or share it on the social media of your choice. If you have any wishes or questions regarding subjects to be discussed on this blog use the contact information below. Jeremy is also available for seminars, lectures and personal consultation:

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