• To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.

    - Buddha
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Ki? Qi? Prana? Subtle Life Energy?

“Begin when the spirit moves you.”

I use the above words in class when instructing students to begin their practice sessions. In other words, “wait for the energy to move you, wait to be animated, wait to be inspired.” At the start of a healing session, take a moment to ensure that you’re calmly grounded in body and mind before gently contacting the client’s mind and body. Essentially, you’re waiting to feel the spirit moving through you.

It has only recently been realized that when indigenous people speak of spirit in their healing traditions, their definition of the word spirit is the same as our scientific explanation for energy.

Perhaps when a Druid Priest, Shaman or Medicine Man prayed to or called forth the spirit in an old oak tree this was not an appeal to a ghost living in the woods but reverence from an heart-felt understanding of scientific principles explaining how much energy, or how much spirit, it takes to become a 250 year-old oak tree. The indigenous healer actively acknowledges the deliberate transformation from tiny acorn to mighty tree and allows this wisdom to move through him, to inspire him, to animate his being. In my healing practice and in the classroom, I use the word spirit synonymously with the following terms: energy, Ki, Qi, Prana, Mana, life force, subtle energy, vital energy, ethereal body and universal energy. Spirit is energy; spirit is everywhere and in everything.

The word that you’re most comfortable using depends on your cultural background and on whom you are talking with. I prefer spirit because it expresses an experiential quality about energy that is difficult to put into words; elusive yet graspable and it shouldn’t be neglected when expressing one’s physical experience of the human spirit.

An example is when we talk about a person’s fighting spirit, or stamina of spirit. Here, the word spirit conveys the feeling-tone by giving the person’s energy an outwardly emotional experience. To me, when one uses only the word energy it lacks the subjective expression and subsequent transformation of character that is essential in mind-body-spirit healing.

To further clarify, here is my operational definition of spirit used for the purposes of Spiritual Healing or Soul Healing:

The Universe’s energy is Spirit, capable of infinite expansion and contraction. It is a real force that can be intuitively perceived and mentally directed. The best way to strengthen one’s Spirit is to understand and practice the unification of mind and body.

According to William Reed, author of Ki A Practical Guide for Westerners, “A Japanese dictionary defines Ki as mind, spirit, or heart. It lists hundreds of expressions, which use the word Ki; most of them ordinary ways of talking about human moods, attitudes, or character. It is sometimes given a more philosophical meaning. In the martial arts and Chinese Medicine, the word Ki refers to a subtle form of vital energy. Ki is the life force; a source of internal strength.”

I find it interesting that after looking up the word spirit in an online English dictionary it was defined in pretty much the same way as Ki was in the Japanese dictionary. Definitions include subtle forms of vital energy, divine energies, moods, attitudes, and character:

spir·it -noun

  1. the vital principle in humans, animating the body or mediating between body and soul.
  2. conscious, incorporeal being, as opposed to matter: the world of spirit.
  3. a supernatural, incorporeal being especially one inhabiting a place, object., or having a particular character
  4. an attitude or principle that inspires, animates, or pervades thought, feeling, or action: the spirit of reform.
  5. the soul or heart as the seat of feelings or sentiments, or as promoting to action: a man of broken spirit.
  6. spirits, feelings or mood with regard to exaltation or depression: low spirits; good spirits.
  7. excellent disposition or attitude in terms of vigor, courage, firmness of intent, etc.; mettle: That’s the spirit!
  8. temper or disposition: meek in spirit.
  9. The Spirit, God.

Chinese Medicine is an example of a traditional yet highly scientific understanding of energy. The ancient Chinese described a life force circulating in the body that protected, nourished, and animated all life. This is the foundation of Chinese Medical Theory: universal, life force energy, Qi, in its various stages of vibration and manifestation. It’s important to mention that their concept was universal and widely accepted. The ancient Greeks called it pneuma; Indians from the far east, prana; Paracelsus called it quintessence; the founder of homeopathy called it vital force; and my favorite is Mr. Mesmer’s magnetism.

All of these concepts are referring to the energy that is found in the tiniest particles that create and form everything in the Universe. This is actually the same as the concept that is accepted in quantum physics: the entire Universe is comprised of the same energy in varying stages. If you accept that the word spirit can be used interchangeably with the word energy, in the same way as pneuma and magnetism, then spirit is no longer only the mysterious, such as angels and aura, divine beings and holy light, even human consciousness expressed as attitudes, but also the observable, such as earth, rock, metal and this includes you. You are spirit.

Everything that exists is spirit continually transforming itself into and being expressed by varying forms. If you consider the process of life, beginning with conception, then birth, growth and finally death you can see that there are many stages of form, or physical expression of your spirit. Spirit is manifesting as the underlying change in all processes in the Universe.

All phenomena are interdependent through Spirit.

Spirit is “the One” from the opening line in Lau Tzu’s Tao Te Ching:

The Tao begets the One,

the One begets the Two,

the Two begets the Three,

the Three beget the Ten thousand things,

All things are backed by the shade,

faced by the light

and harmonized by the immaterial breath.

“One Gave Birth to Two”

I believe that Chinese Medicine is based on man’s reverence for spirit in all things. Why else conceptualize and then express yin and yang as harmonized by the immaterial breath? The philosophy of two, always separate, yet connected includes the Universe. Well, what if we divided the Universe into yin and yang? Our temporal world of matter (planets, trees, mountains, streams) is the yang Universe, while the spiritual world full of unseen phenomena (particles and waves) is the yin Universe. Physical life and spiritual life are united. This balance is described in not only Lao Tzu’s Tao Teh Ching: ‘the One begets the Two, the Two begets the Three’ but also in quantum physics.

In Soul or Spiritual Healing it is important to understand that even though everything can be divided into yin and yang all things are seen as their mutual source (One) and then subsequent transformations. Essentially, all things are witnessed as one source of the Spirit that creates into differing appearances.

Perhaps you’re wondering what is the point in my preference for the word spirit over the word energy when speaking of the vital principle of healing? One simple point: the strength and courage to heal and renew oneself is spirit; so, why not choose to be mighty like the oak tree?

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Healing Lies In Relationship

Ease Pain With That Which Holds The Universe Together

Healing relies on a true synergism of physical, psychological and spiritual harmony within the individual. And this synergism, or lack thereof, comes from relationship.

But within our relationship to what? or to whom?

As I write this I wonder how many of us share a complete understanding of the meaning of the word relationship?

Jiddhu Krishnamurti says, “the meaning of the word (relationship) is to be related, actually to be related, to be in contact, to have empathy, sympathy, a sensitivity that understands each other completely, not partially.”

Krishnamurti’s simple explanation strongly emphasizes relating, contacting, understanding each other completely. In essence he describes sympathy and intimacy with one another. He describes communion, does he not? Communion means to have an intimate communication, a sharing of emotions.

In an older post titled Eros Heals, I wrote on an element of healing that is often overlooked: It is to approach an individual with eros for the landscape of their pain. According to Thomas Moore, “This is not eros as sex but eros in its true origin, which is relatedness.”

Prior to the Greek use of the word, eros referred to the coherence that holds the entire Universe together. I can’t give an in-depth explanation on the coherence, or fabric, that holds the entire Universe together; it’s beyond my basic scope. I can conceptualize, however, from a Naturalistic perspective that that which holds the Universe together is participating in its continuation.

For the Greeks, eros was much more than cosmic glue as it inspired a highly spiritual form of Love that united our bodies with our souls. Yes, the Greeks were wonderfully amorous with their intimations on the merging of body and soul. Their description reveals our purity and offers a complete understanding of the responsibility we have for every action on our planet.

Approach Your Client or Patient With Eros

Real Love, as eros is experiencing our oneness in the expression of our mutual origin. Approaching your client or patient with eros, with oneness in expression, is altruistic and highly intimate, it yields a complete understanding that relates to the individual’s pain. In mind-body-spirit healing this unravels the deeper wound of our shared separation.

Healing is primal: It is vital to address psychophysically and neurochemically the mechanism of distress but this is a part of a larger process: If the primal is not acknowledged then this approach risks becoming mere escape from pain, thus strengthening the pain by habitualizing the escape. For many, escape becomes ritualized within routine creating a desperate loop inviting a new pain within a new illness.

Spirit completes the process: Not what a reductionist may think of as neurospiritual, but purity in spirit because it is subjective: It is to help someone accept and honor their pain and fears as a wounded part that needs to bond intimately, to belong, to share, and to receive that which holds the Universe together.

The principle element: Vulnerability: Healers must learn to express the consistency of eros for one another effortlessly. One does not intellectualize nor even need to differentiate Love from fleeting emotions. However, one does guide the individual in sharing the truth of their pain. You’ll recall that the word communion means to have an intimate communication, a sharing of emotions.

This open sharing may or may not be expressed through spoken words. Words represent our beliefs but mean little if they do not carry our truth. My favorite Martha Graham quote is, “The body says what words cannot.” Herein, sharing through tears, gestures, tension, a sigh, cries, an embrace and trembling communicates the truth of the individual’s pain. However, the sharing that I refer to is even subtler, elusive to the senses and is intuited through our attunement to the other person; a true navel-to-navel connection.

I can only describe the experience of my shared calling to be in service: To hold the emotional sensitivities of the individual’s pain within eros’ more coherent emotional expression, fueling the person’s reverence for their whole body, their wounded parts; allowing the unraveling to begin…

So in seeking healing, look within relationship. In relationship, relating comes from our oneness. In our oneness, Love comes into being. And within Love, one’s suffering is eased by that which holds the Universe together. Thus complete healing lies within relationship.

They do not love that do not show their love. -William Shakespeare

The Heart of Summer

Summer Is In Full Gear, So Let’s Take Advantage of What Chinese Medicine Has To Say About These Long Summer Days!

For me, six words come to mind when thinking of the invigorating and enlivening experiences of summertime, they are: The Sheer Joy Of Being Alive!

summer joy by Dmitry Kichenko.

I feel totally imbued with the human spirit on a long, hot summer day. The farmers market abounds with juicy fruits and delicious veggies amidst the perfume of brightly hued blossoms. Activity is effortless and life feels full, transformed and somehow complete.

Needless to say, there is no complaining here about the heat because it won’t be long before we reach the dynamic height of summer’s inspiration and settle into a cooler, calmer and more collected fall.

So what does this mean for you in terms of body, mind and spirit?

Chinese Medicine teaches us to observe ourselves as an expression of Nature’s observable elements, depending on the cycle of the season and changes in the environment.  Just as Nature goes through a process of change, the Nature inside of you also undergoes a transformation.

If you are in harmony with the fresh green shoots appearing in spring then you will feel reborn, bursting with springtime activity. And when the trees are full of mouthwatering fruits and the plants are blossoming around you, then you will feel the joys of abundance coupled with the passion of the creative spirit.

Hmmm, an abundance of energy, stamina and passion!? Yes, clearly this is why I Love summer!

In the Five Element Theory, summer is ruled by the Fire element and is expressed through growth, joy, spiritual awareness and Love.  This is the Yang-est time of the year, which translates into a surge of physical, mental and emotional activity.

To be in sync with the long days, I wake up as early as 6:00am and stay up until at least midnight (it’s actually 1:48am while I write this post). Don’t worry to balance the work and play, I schedule a midday nap. Without my regular siestas I would be totally exhausted before summer’s end.

Anatomically, the Fire element corresponds with the heart which pumps oxygen-rich blood throughout our bodies. Emotionally, we’ve been warming up, going out and connecting with others. The heat of summer flows into our deeper relationships while our bodies relax around a more open heart.

In the Elemental theory, the heart houses the Spirit, also called the Spirit-Mind. A harmonious Spirit-Mind can be felt as a heart-connection with others and, for many of us, as a spiritual connection with Nature. This is a time that ushers in sensitivity and expression with the true contentment only known by a unified heart and mind. I view summer as an opportunity to transform negative experiences into feelings of Love.

Love is an extraordinary thing; it arouses the realization that the self and others are one. Love inspires what I call altruistic intimacy and the knowledge that what you cause and affect are one. Experiencing your heart’s purity reveals the responsibility we have for every action that occurs on our planet because we are one. Love between two people is a holy sharing when each have experienced their own depths and see their mutual identity and mutual causality through the starry-eyed gaze of eros.

Ahh, it’s easy to get swept away reflecting on the Fire element and Love, but let’s look at our original query: What does the long, hot days of summer mean for you in terms of body, mind and spirit?

Simple answer. The heart-felt enjoyment of family, friendship, perhaps even summer Love, but more importantly the exalting experience of the sheer joy of being alive!

Finding Inner Assurance

Confidence and the lack thereof is a hot topic in my classroom. Some have it. Many are working on it.

ascetic_person-3in

But everyone agrees that confidence is an essential ingredient for their continued success. Luckily, for those who find it elusive, there are countless ways to cultivate belief in your abilities but only one true way to ensure inner assurance. Needless to say, meditation is the way.

Why meditation? Ours is a culture that thrives on how-to’s.  We’ve been taught to rely on proven methods to solve our unique issues. And many feel that meditation requires a process that needs to be verbalized as steps in order to cultivate their own inner certainty.

Do you see the irony in responding to meditation by needing assurance that you are doing it correctly? I’ve become accustomed to a few silent stares when I instruct my students to meditate. Though mute, some stares are hungry and restless for direction.

The classic challenge for the seeking mind is that it always gets in its own way. Thus, traditions and protocols are born, lessons are handed down and ‘ways’ are set in stone. Follow the leader, Simon Says, Read this How-To so that You Can Do… this is classic foundational learning. The problem for me is that then one’s boldness resides outside instead of within. There is a big difference between confidently following someone’s cues and resolutely following your inner voice. The goal is to fully apply yourself to the former process and then learn to let go. The latter requires what is referred to in Zen as the beginner’s mind. This is a mindset that loves to express, to experience and to play instead of a mind conditioned for the next perfect performance. Allow your courage to come from within.

The author of the renowned classic Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda taught that “he whose breath, life, and feeling are calm, he can have faith born of intuition; it cannot be possessed by persons who are emotionally restless.” The point is to develop an all-encompassing inner life that will keep you calm and will bring immediate comprehension of truth and your own unique steps in life. Anyone can have this remarkable realization and meditation is the way.

Meditation Does More Than Cultivate Inner Assurance.

I believe that meditation is the passageway that links what mystics call the “Great below,” the unconscious to the “Great above,” the conscious.

A discipline, an art, a child’s calling for solace… slowing down, becoming still, sitting in silence with a quiet mind mirrors the transmutation of life energy in Nature’s sacred season of the Great below; the season of water’s wisdom, winter.

All energy needs to be conserved for unseen processes to take root, to gestate, to be dreamed for the manifestation of our ideas. It’s important to understand that finding emotional peace in the state of no mind is not a sacred pardon from the cycles of pain and pleasure; it is the direct conduit to your wholeness and brings insight in the midst of pain and pleasure. It brings assurance that all experiences are valuable.

Meditation brings insight and meaning to our transformational stages and we can gradually come to terms with any anguish that we suffer. Pain that is understood from the honesty of your soul, sensitizes and opens us to a deeper communion within and to the world, making us ever more receptive to the unconsciousness in our lives.

A life without meditation is a life lived as a puppet to the dramas of your mind allowing uncertainty to reign. 

Teachers of religion and spirituality often are guides for advanced meditative practices. Observing the movement from season to season confirms that meditation is an essential process for Nature’s renewal. I believe that in our modern times, meditation is the appropriate time to experience the ‘ascetic detachment’ we read about in spiritual literature. Being naked, stripped of your achievements in the sanctity of your meditation brings forth renewal.

You must develop and maintain your own meditative practice if you’re not already a student of meditation as guidance because it is Nature’s corridor to finding your inner assurance. At any time you may purposefully tap into your unconscious to ask for guidance; answers come to those with an open heart.

One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can’t utter.

James Earl Jones

Understanding The Messages of Your Body

It is a common joke that the body’s messages, in the form of physical aches and anxieties, are often ignored, or go unnoticed, by the average man.

Can you imagine having to learn to operate based on feedback from your body if the dialogue between the mind and the body was muted? Why was the sound turned off? Probably to enable more risk-taking, hunting behavior.

Early man’s survival depended on fearless action in the face of danger, on the courage to explore unknown territories and on the willingness to fight to the death and to protect his community.

Traditionally, masculine mindfulness relied on quickly understanding details and organizing strategy, for action to occur, in spite of physical pain or an internal alarm. It arises from overriding the body’s various alarms and turning on the intellect for planning and action.

The modern caveman, male or female, created football games and reality TV shows like Man vs. Wild. It’s all about actively taking extreme risks. Perhaps you know someone modeling their business accomplishments after real life conquerors like Genghis Khan? This is masculine consciousness at its best, and it has become the predominant intelligence-model for the developed world.

However masculine consciousness, in its development, was successful because it was supported by a complementary survival intelligence to deal with being corralled by the forces of Nature, which includes natural disasters, the changing of the seasons, creating shelter, finding food and recovering from injury and disease.

The forces of Nature gave rise to the development of this other survival intelligence; feminine consciousness, which relied on information felt in the body to prevent, protect and to heal individuals in her care for the survival of her community. Basically, instead of the volume being muted between the mind and body the sound was turned way, way up.

Women Are Environmentally Reactive

According to Mona Lisa Schulz, MD, women have neurocircuitry from deserted primitive brain pathways that function solely to connect us to changes in our immediate environment.

Just think how useful it is to know a blizzard is on its way, to know that rubbing a particular plant on your skin will repel mosquitoes or to know when to warn against the outcome of an extreme risk.

Leading neuroscientists agree that women have evolved with the stronger neurochemical connection to the cycles of our planet.  As a woman, I can experientially say that we do not become the cycles; we simply are the cycles. Perhaps you too can feel this physical attunement that is our connection to the planetary body?

As a vibrational healer, it is important for me to celebrate my ancestor’s ancient role in the survival of her community. This great-great grandmother from our past could comprehend specific instances in which her physical body’s pleasures and/or depressions were actually non-verbal dialogues with her environment. It would be like the translation of a sound, or, vibration heard from a tree, a plant or even the earth. However you’re translating this vibration through your body and allowing your body to interpret instead of analyzing and rationalizing it.

Your Body Is Your Subconscious Mind

In the words of renowned neuroscientist Candace Pert, PhD, “Your body is your subconscious mind.” Perhaps this statement also explains how the mysterious subconscious can know before an event has occurred, because our ancestral neruocircuitry is earthly Wi-Fi. We all know, first-hand, that the state of our bodies conditions our psyche. So imagine how some of what you’re feeling in your body as moods is actually guidance that is meant to alert you to either a problem within your own body or in the body of those around you, including the earth’s body.

Ideally you want to be able to receive information from either masculine or feminine processes according to any perceived stress. A long time has elapsed since man was living in caves, and to navigate modern stress you want to be skilled in both the masculine and the feminine mind allowing yourself to benefit from their balanced partnership.

Are you wondering how this balanced partnership between the masculine and the feminine mind works within you?  The best answer is to actively develop a conscious awareness of and an understanding of the messages from your body.

The first step is to recognize your body as a type of intelligence. Intelligence is not limited to thoughtful analysis, logic and critical thinking even though this is what is emphasized by our society. Intelligence is also body-kinesthetic, which is the natural sense of how your body should act and react in a demanding physical situation where there is no time for thinking. Demanding circumstances were at the forefront of our evolution. I believe that body-kinesthetic intelligence is the foundation for all human intelligence just like the roots that anchor and nourish the branches of a tree. And yet this foundational intelligence is dismissed and rarely utilized except for athletics, dance, bodywork or physical therapy.

Are you thinking of your favorite sport or pro-athlete right now? Then you’re on the right track. But this intelligence is not limited to the Olympics or the above vocations. I can only describe my experience, that for me, the core of being body smart is the ability to read my internal and external environment through feeling sensations in my body — just as through reading the words in this post you can read subtle movements inside your body. These subtle movements have correspondences to your internal organs, other people and the larger world because you are inextricably linked, neurochemically and cellularly, to your immediate environment.

Body sensations are incredibly accurate and reliable, but modern people are mostly disembodied by the time they are in the third grade. Conventional education focuses on developing one form of intelligence, analytical thinking, and ignores the nourishing intelligence that was used for millennia, your whole body.

Developing the ability to intellectually understand the messages of our bodies is the second step in how the masculine and feminine mind works in tandem. Dr. Schulz also points out that neuroanatomical mapping shows us that the atypical wiring of the brain of our female ancestors processed an adaptive unconscious; women today have very different brain functions than that of their great-great-grandmothers but the original pathways are still in place allowing us to awaken the ability to interpret, or, intuit what we feel as reliable information.

An expanded consciousness allows for information from your subconscious to filter into your mind’s intellect affirming that there are no separations in the mind-body, only two of many ways to experience your intelligence. I believe that it is every human being’s birthright to utilize the knowledge in our ancestral neural network as the pure expression of intuitive knowledge.

Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart… Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens. – Carl Jung

Restoring Balance To The Body And The Mind

Life Energy Instinctively Strives For Balance

In Shiatsu terminology, pressure points that feel painful to the touch are considered too full of Ki-energy, bodily fluids and toxins; the excess is causing a blockage in the muscle, in the meridian channel and in the pressure point.

Shizuto Masunaga, founder of Zen Shiatsu, referred to fullness of energy as a Jitsu, whereas a deficiency resulting in relative ‘lifelessness’ is known as a Kyo.

KYO & JITSU ARE LINKED IN A CONTINUAL CYCLE OF CAUSE & EFFECT

Kyo and Jitsu are linked in a continual cycle of cause and effect, in which the Kyo (emptiness) causes the Jitsu (activeness) in order to bring the body, the mind and the spirit back to natural balance.

A competent Shiatsu healer must determine whether a meridian or pressure point is Kyo (low energy) or Jitsu (high energy) by the response to the healer’s touch.

In a Shiatsu session, healing begins by balancing the Kyo and Jitsu in the whole being. Complete balancing also includes freeing up the blocked or stuck areas in the movement of our feelings.

Here is a basic illustration that I use with students and clients: Every time you feel hungry you are in need, or, lack what you need.

Hunger = Lacking What You Need = Kyo

Your experience is then one of Kyo and your response to this need is to take action, Jitsu, by satisfying your craving.

Eating = Action to Fill Need = Jitsu

You bite into a delicious apple and after the last bite you not only cease your activity but you no longer have an empty stomach.

This aspect of you is now in relative balance until you once again feel hunger, or the need to satisfy a craving. Kyo and Jitsu are always in this energetic relationship in which the Kyo causes the Jitsu.

In this theory, pain and suffering is caused by not nurturing our Kyo. Let’s continue with the basic illustration of satisfying your craving for food.

What if you are on a strict diet that doesn’t allow any fruit? You know that you are craving a sweet apple. However to satisfy your fad diet you reach for a hard boiled egg.

You might experience a moment of satiation but since your body clearly communicated that it had a need for something sweet soon you will experience your hunger again. And this time it will be more intense and you may begin to feel light headed.

If you take inappropriate action again (ignoring your ‘real’ need) then you are creating an imbalance that may lead to dis-harmony and eventually dis-ease.

Taking the appropriate action, with our food choices and with life’s bigger challenges, is easy if we understand the healing theory of Kyo and Jitsu.

Life energy strives for harmony within itself. Believe it or not, it actually takes effort or really unfortunate circumstances to overcome the harmony of the body and the mind. It is when we get sick that balance has been lost. All illnesses are an attempt to restore harmony to the Ki-energy balance in the body.

bigstockphoto_Yin_And_Yang_1818215There are times when the body and the mind doesn’t have the resources to get well without some assistance. A healer versed in Kyo and Jitsu can approach the body and meet the needs of the weakness, Kyo,  and if necessary, disperse or calm down the Jitsu.

In shiatsu, the practitioner will determine the most Kyo meridian channel and the most Jitsu meridian channel and focus on harmonizing the Ki-Energy by stimulating certain meridians and specific pressure points to encourage balance.

By moving some of the Ki-energy from the Jitsu meridian into the Kyo meridian or using your own internal Ki-energy, you can revitalize the Ki within the Kyo meridian, therefore fulfilling its need for more Ki.

Tap Into The Body’s Energy By Stimulating Acupoints

Stimulating Acupuncture Points for Health & Vitality is Based on Traditional Chinese Medicine

However, the stimulation techniques that I have learned and developed in private practice and that I teach reflect the cultural background of the Japanese Martial Arts by emphasizing the importance of being connected with and moving energy from your vital center, known in Japanese as hara.

Young and confidentStimulating acupuncture points should never come from muscular strength, but should come from the body weight in relation to gravity. Basically the practitioner should lean into rather than push into an acupoint.

The practitioner should also lengthen through his or her spine as one does while sitting in meditation. This allows the practitioner to raise energy along the spine while remaining grounded.

In order to do this correctly, you need to use your center of gravity, your hara. This is considered the whole belly area. By using your Hara you are using your whole body.

Think about this for one second: By using your belly area you are accessing your whole body. This means that you are using the total power of your body.

Focusing Your Energy in the Hara Harmonizes the Body, Mind, Emotions and Spirit.

The best example of using the hara is seen in the world of martial arts. It is known that when throwing a punch or giving a kick, if you focus your mind and breath in the hara and pivot from your lower abdominal area, you will have the force of your body weight behind that punch or kick. This is the secret to harnessing unseen power.

Developing the skills to meditate and channel energy from your hara is essential for not only martial artists but also many eastern healing modalities, this is especially true in Shiatsu. Incredible transformations occur when using the art of hara while stimulating an acupoint on yourself in daily life as well as on a client in a healing session.

A beneficial byproduct of balancing your internal energies by using hara is a shift from acting on autopilot toward more desirable ways of treating your body and the world around you.

Using your hara requires you to originate all of your movements from your belly area. To be more specific–to move from a point just below the navel which is your body’s central pivot point. This point is called tanden (or dantian in Chinese).

Stimulating an acupoint with finger pressure is not enough to modify the flow of Ki, blood, and other fluids helping you harmonize the functional activities of your body. Stimulating an acupoint also requires the power of the Universe harnessed through your breath and by moving internal Ki through the hara.

So, whenever you stimulate a point on the body, you must check in with yourself to make sure that the movement is rooted in your lower hara.

How do you make sure that you’re rooted in your hara? One way to do this is to mentally trace the movement backwards; starting with your fingers and mindfully moving your awareness through your arms and into your shoulders until you reach your hara. It is in this way that you will feel when you are using force or pressure as opposed to your lower hara.

For example if you’re leaning on specific acupoints along someone’s leg and you realize that the movement is coming mostly from your shoulders then you are not going to have the most effective results.

Worse is that it may even create tension in the other person that you are working on because of the tension building in your own body. It is through using your hara that you can ensure effective results.

It’s important to understand that the meaning of hara extends beyond the mechanical. To be rooted in your hara also illustrates a person’s ability to achieve and to have continued success. In Japanese culture, diligent and thoughtful effort toward your goal reflects someone with a strongly developed hara.

To have hara means to have the ability to get things done; to not shy away from the difficult and to overcome setbacks. When you are ‘coming from your hara’ whether in everyday life, in meditation or stimulating an acupoint, the meaning is that you are well grounded, strongly focused and fully engaged in the potential of the Mind and the Body.

Shiatsu is a healing practice that requires the development of hara.