by Jule Webb
My introduction to Shiatsu occurred early in 1996 when I was attending a home show in Toronto. At the point of leaving the home show I noticed a group of soon-to-graduate Shiatsu students giving "sample" treatments. For most of my adult life I had been having chiropractic treatments to treat migraines and backache with limited relief. I had previously read articles about Shiatsu therapy, some positive and some negative, the negative explaining how some practitioners used elbows, knees and sometimes full body weight to exert pressure. The negatives ones influenced me against seeking this type of treatment. I later found out that Namikoshi's Shiatsu method uses only thumbs, fingers and palms. But at that time, feeling extremely fatigued and with lower back aching from all the standing I decided to take advantage of the students' offer. The session lasted about 20 minutes, at the end of which time I felt such rejuvenation it was difficult to believe the extent of relief. My back was no longer aching, fatigue had vanished and I was left with a pleasant feeling of relaxed tiredness and a lightness of body as though it had, to a certain extent, been released from the pull of gravity.
This experience led me to seek out a permanent therapist whom I found in Kensen Saito of the Shiatsu Academy of Tokyo. I have been having regular therapy since then and the benefits have proven to be numerous: fewer and less severe headaches; relief of backaches and tension in the neck and shoulder area; lowering of high blood pressure; less insomnia; ability to breathe more deeply; fewer episodes of short term memory loss that come with aging, and a corresponding increase of powers of concentration.
My husband was in an automobile accident a few months after I began therapy. As a result of this collision his lungs, already weakened from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, suffered severe bruising. He had never been in favor of alternate therapies but his suffering was such that he agreed to Kensen administering Shiatsu therapy. After only one treatment he said the relief he felt was nothing short of miraculous. Unknown to us he was also in an advanced stage of prostate cancer, diagnosed six months later during a general medical examination. He continued having regular Shiatsu therapy until the time of his death in 1999 and it gave him enormous help in coping with all of the discomforts of two major illnesses. He looked forward to the days when he would have Shiatsu therapy and was always able to fall into a deep, restful sleep following the treatments.
I believe if Shiatsu were at least partly subsidized by government the overall benefit to the health of people in treating existing and preventing future problems would be considerable, not to mention the resulting savings in medical costs.