you once said: "When we learn Shiatsu we immerse ourselves in a challenging, inspiring and personally enriching process." Do you remember when you first felt this enormous dimension of shiatsu?
Yes - immediately when I started. I knew in my first Shiatsu lesson that this was what I had been looking for - it had everything - Philosophy, meditation, a alternative World-View, body work and it was great to experience and to do too.
Europe, the United States, Australia: you worked on different continents, in many countries. Do you see a difference in the shiatsu communities or do we worldwide speak one Shiatsu language?
Each country has its differences of course, but I think there is more similarity than difference in the "Shiatsu Family" I feel Shiatsu is part of a world-wide planetary change of awareness. I think this is really strong in our online courses on www.newenergywork.com - because we have Shiatsu practitioners participating from all corners of the globe together.
To go a little further with this question: do you think that the standard of shiatsu has worldwide enhanced over the last 10 to 20 years – from mainly physical to enegetical?
I think it probably depends in which style or stream of Shiatsu you are involved in. But I would say that those teachers who have continued developing Shiatsu in the lineage from Masunaga have been moving into a more Energy- based approach. I think this is because this is the logical development that Masunaga set up with his work …
You work with a visible audience in your workshops and recently started with an invisible audience in the Webinar, your online course. Which is more challenging for you?
I like working in both formats both Face to Face and Online. Online learning has some advantages over F2F (face to face) workshops. Firstly everyone tends to be very engaged and all the participants usually ask questions. In F2F workshops it is unusual for everyone in the class to ask questions. Also the 5 week format we use means that the participants have plenty of time to work with the material on their clients and get feedback and support - this makes it ideal for post graduate work for professional practitioners.
Because I have a formal training in Course Design - the challenges in designing and delivering the material are essentially the same. We just use a lot of video and audio - to take the place of F2F demonstrations.
The scientific side of shiatsu caught your interest early on. How important is this knowledge for the shiatsu practioner?
I think it is useful because it gives us another language to explain what is happening in the Shiatsu session (not that we know all the answers yet of course - but we have some good ideas of how some aspects of Shiatsu may work) not everyone can relate to the concepts of Ki, Blood and the Meridians.
Some Shiatsu practitioners don't want to do that .. they would rather keep the language in the TCM / Shiatsu paradigm …. and I can sympathise with this view because it is a beautiful paradigm to be in - which has many advantages over the Materialist paradigm that is often associated with Science.
I like working with scientists, like James Oschman and Emilio Del Guidice who are interested in Energy Work - because they often have had life changes experiences through bodywork and they are searching themselves to try and explain what happened to them!
You are not only a well known and highly respected shiatsu teacher, but also a musician, playing the saxophone – your first commercial album "Song Noir" has just come out. I wonder in which way this passion of yours has influenced your shiatsu practice and teaching.
It influenced it a lot! In the 90s I was trying to figure out several questions about the Energetic Field - and at the time I was studying music. Music is a great metaphor for Energy Work because sound is the most physically experience of the vibrations that we sense - it is more kinaesthetically experienced than light for example. Music theory gave me a great way to approach issues like - how can we tune into different levels of the Energetic Field?
Some people find it important to verbally communicate with their clients during the session to add a further dimension to it and to communicate with the inner self of the client. Do you also use this device?
Rarely. I normally am concentrating so much on the session I can't talk as well! Also I think it is an advantage to keep the cognitive brain quiet so that other things can happen in the healing process. I will talk though if I feel it is in the best interests of the client.
It was somehow revolutionary when you together with Emilo Del Guidice, James Oschman and Patrizia Stefanini and with the help of the research project of the European Shiatsu Federation found out that shiatsu really works and that it can be proved scientifically. Has this made shiatsu more respectable and popular in the world of energy work?
I would say it has had two effects. I think it has made us in Shiatsu feel more confident in our work, but it has also made us more visible as a target for extreme skeptics - who have a mission to undermine and discredit any form of Energy- Work - you can see that happening e.g. on Wikipedia. James and Emilio are used to these types of attack.
There are many factors that play an important role in diagnosing a client. It seems to me that the connective tissue has become more and more relevant.
The concept of the role of the connective tissue does provide some possible answers about how some diagnostic techniques might be possible - however how we actually work is something else - connecting with the Energetic Field is grounded in thousands of years of practice - how to explain what happens to a Western trained mind - is another story.
Science on one side, intuition on the other. How do you see the relationship of these two aspects in shiatsu?
I feel that what we call "intuition" is actually the processing of information via a different route from the normal "cognitive-rational" brain. Intuition is often I feel guided by a process which bypasses the cognitive mind. Intuition is however based upon knowledge. It is once the knowledge is absorbed - when we become "unconsciously competent" that we can work "naturally" or intuitively. This is what is sometimes called "beginners mind".
Thank you very much, Cliff!