the original kStyle blog.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Shiatsu Talk: By Popular Demand

What’s it like to give Shiatsu, you ask? What a difficult question to answer.

In Zen Shiatsu we look for a kyo and a jitsu meridian. Kyo means empty or deficient; jitsu means excess or full. (The jitsu meridian is trying to fill a need for a kyo meridian, or substituting for it. It’s important to tonify the kyo meridian and disperse the jitsu one.) We find these two meridians by palpating the hara, or abdomen. Certain hara areas correspond to certain meridians.

A kyo quality in a meridian or diagnostic area is often described as feeling empty or hollow. It can feel too soft, allowing the fingers to sink in too far; shy, cold; flaccid; and occasionally doughy and slightly tough. Sometimes a kyo area will feel like it has a thin layer of ki on top and is hollow below, like a bubble covering a hole. Those can be tricky to spot. Lung is an unusual case in that it sometimes feels very hard when it’s weak, in account of overworking. A good rule of thumb (ha!) is that, when it feels like the receiver wants your hand to stay in an area, it’s kyo. Needy. For an example, place your hand on your lower back around the kidney area. How does it feel?Almost everyone is kyo there.

Jitsu qualities are stuck; hard; pushing back on the giver; sometimes it feels like a big jolt. I’ve noticed that Large Intestine meridian often feels zingy when excess. Jitsu areas tend to be tender. Ticklish areas are usually jitsu. Try this: press the area just below your greater trochanter (hip bone on the side of upper thigh). Tender? Hard? It usually is.

Most meridians, even if overall kyo or jitsu, will have blocked jitsu areas and empty kyo areas. We try not only to balance out the meridians with each other, but also within themselves. Last weekend I practiced on a woman with sinus bloakage. Well no wonder--her meridians were very tight and stopped all around her shoulders, keeping ki stuffed up in her head. (I suspect she thinks too much. She also talks probably too much. She talks...a lot.) The forearms were soft and sinking. I worked down the chosen meridians with intent to bring the ki down to her forearms and hands. The best results came when I held an especially blocked upper arm point with one thumb and an empty forearm point with my other thumb. After a moment or two---sliiiiide went the ki, all nice and smooth. A second after I felt this, her whole arm relaxed, the shoulder point softened, and the forearm point filled up to a healthy level, gaining tone. After the treatment, her sinus headache went away for at least a couple of days. It's probably back now, what with all the thinking, talking, and dairy-eating she does. :)

Properly flowing ki feels like tingling warmth sliding between points, like a river of silver, or maybe like magnetic attraction. Try this: rub your palms together 9 times, pause, 9 times more, pause, and then nine times more. Then hold your hands, palms facing each other, maybe 6” to a foot apart. Feel anything? Play with moving your palms closer and farther apart. Relax your shoulders. I see you holding them up by your ears. Harder to feel ki that way...

Some people, of course, are generally so weak that it’s difficult to find a jitsu (excess), or generally so tense that it’s (literally) hard to find a kyo (deficiency).

And then, different meridians feel different. For example, Liver (LV) and Gallbladder (GB) tend to be somewhat hard regardless of kyo/jitsu status: they are wood, after all. Bladder (BL) and Kidney (KD), in balance, feel like rivers, being water energy. (But they’re seldom in balance because the very act of living depletes the KD ki. When KD runs out of ki, you die. Everyone’s born with an allotment of Source Ki or Jing, which is stored in the kidneys. Proper, moderate living, exercises such as qi gong, breathing well, etc., can add to your ki such that the Jing isn’t tapped. Poor living—poor diet, no exercise, excess exercise, not enough sleep, too much stress—and things like serious illness deplete the Jing.)

I’m starting to pick things up from the meridians, too, like poor sleep or excess caffeinated beverages. It’s cool.

SO…hope that answered your question, Carla. Feel free to ask more and I’ll do the best I can with ‘em.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was really cool--thank you!

Here's another question for you: a lot of Asian medical practitioners, whether of your school or TCM, seem to want people to avoid dairy (and, at least sometimes, consume soy). I wonder sometimes how much of that is cultural, though: most non-European populations have much higher incidence of lactose intolerance, which would (a) be noticed and (b) encourage medical practitioners to recommend avoidance. (Similarly, or perhaps only analogously, there are genetic differences in the metabolization of alcohol.) So how much of the recommendations are based on, historically, treatment of a predominantly Asian population? How do or should the recommendations differ by racial background? (I hesitate to use "racial,' but don't know what fits better here.)

9:56 AM  
Blogger kStyle said...

There is some cultural bias--once an acupuncturist from China (the one I went to in Santa Fe) absolutely insisted that I was eating too much oily, fried food. I wasn't eating ANY. I later questioned this to my now-acupuncturist, an American, who explained that sweets and dairy have the same effect, and are the more likely causes in Americans. I had chronic sinusitis and stomach upset, which went away when I cut out dairy at a naturopath's advice. I now consume moderate amounts of dairy--for flavor--and stop when I can feel the phlegm creeping in. Soy is also in the category of "dampening" foods that cause phlegm, and should taken only in small amounts by people with damp tendencies. Other dampening foods are roasted peanuts and orange juice. Some people, however, are dry and can handle the dampening foods.

My (Madeiran) grandmother always said not to drink milk when you have a cold because it gunks you up more. Same idea.

Really, I think the dairy industry has brainwashed us. Dairy products, although yummy, are a relatively ineffective way to get calcium. Dark leafy greens, sesame seeds, and sea salt are much better sources. Moreover, no animal anywhere, except humans, consumes milk after infancy. "Milk is for baby cows," as they say.

My acupuncturist was once at a conference on pediatric eastern medicine. They brought in a practitioner from China to speak. An American expressed the concern that severe ear infections were the most widespread, pressing pediatric syndrome, and asked if the Chinese speaker had any tips. He was floored: he never EVER saw that problem in China. My acupuncturist thinks it's because kids do NOT consume dairy there.

PS Lactaid doesn't fully relieve my dairy symptoms--I've tried. Some naturopaths think that the large protein molecule, casein, causes the problems.

10:13 AM  
Blogger kStyle said...

another thought about casein--many people who have trouble with cow's milk products can tolerate goat or sheep milk proucts better. Goat and sheep milk is closer to human milk than cow milk is: smaller protein molecule, more sugars.

10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, of course what I'm looking for is justification to keep doing what I want to do! My acupuncturist recommended eliminating or cutting back on dairy (because of the fibroids), but I won't. Of course, I don't know how much is "a lot," so it's hard to know how much is NOT "too much." I find the other "milks" (soy, nut) unbelievably nasty, and I don't have any lactose intolerance at all, so my motivation is pretty limited. I suspect I'd have to consult with someone on a way deeper level than I'm really up for, and I also suspect it's a lot like the Iyengar approach to yoga--they're all about alignment, but also all about props, too, so that those who are less flexible can maintain proper alignment.

thank you again, though, for your long answer; it would be really interesting to have a session with a practitioner from your school.


12:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And, in fact, a little rummaging on the web has found someone in Chicago who studied the same system of shiatsu as you, so, hey, if I ever start actually getting paid again at my job, I just might do it! (as of today I'm six paychecks behind).

12:19 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

Ah, Okay, I see why you asked. The idea is that the dairy creates phlegm, which blocks things up, which congeals and becomes or feeds masses, like fibroids. Try substituting some goat or sheep products instead. :)

Why are you 6 paychecks behind? That's awful.

1:01 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

Or--better yet--have your dairy with some fooods that cut damp: apples, onions, warm spices (like cinnamon, pepper, cloves, turmeric).

1:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'm just a big baby (regarding the milk thing). I probably have about a cup of milk a day (1% or 2%, though that probably makes no difference for the stuff you're talking about), maybe 1-3 tbsp. butter/day (closer to a half-tbsp/day unless I go out to dinner and/or have a dessert), and maybe 3-5 ounces of cheese/week, usually on the lower end of that. What other foods are moistness-inducing? Maybe I can cut back on some of them.

I work for a small biotech, and we've basically run out of money. The pres has been working on getting some more--we need both a short-term infusion so people can get paid, and a longer-term investment so we can get back to business development--but we haven't gotten it yet, so . . . And finding a new job in this economy, especially one that I could do without wanting to slit my wrists out of either boredom or disgust, isn't moving along with quite the same alacrity as one might wish.

Ah, well: in a little while I'm off to return a coat I don't want, and then to a yoga class with one of my favorite teachers, and then maybe dinner with the stepkid and his dad. I'm seriously considering a shiatsu session next week some time.


1:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ooooh, I love all of those spices and things! I adore onions, and garlic, and you may remember that i wrote the eulogy for cinnamon, which I put in every damned thing (including the coffee in which I also put milk, so, hey, I was doing the right thing w/o even knowing it!).

1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And ginger--I LOVE ginger. Does that do me any good?

1:30 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

I hope things turn around for your company. Good luck. Sounds like you're making the best of it, though. :)

If you get Shiatsu, you'll have to tell me what you think!

Ginger is fantastic for cutting damp. A little ginger tea with meals goes a long way, as does jasmine tea.

Other damp-producing foods include roasted peanuts (PB), orange juice (too much concentrated sugar), cold foods and drinks (I try to take everything room temp or warmer), fatty or oily foods, sweets, and soy. I think bananas can be a culprit, as well. And weather causes dampness: here in New England it tends to be very damp, so you have a lot of damp people walking around. Really.

Sounds like you're doing really good things for yourself, partly by instinct. :)

2:22 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

PS Try warming up your milk with a clove in it before drinking.

2:23 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

to find practitioners of asian bodywork in your state:

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only thing on that list that even begins to tempt me is peanut butter, but, really, if I have it once/month it's a lot (I love it, though). I really do try to listen to what my body wants--this week, for example, I haven't been all that hungry, especially in the morning, even though I'm pretty religious about eating breakfast (Lots O Fiber, a.k.a. burlap bags and dirt, with some gravel and wood chips, with a little milk). So I didn't eat much--some homemade fruit leather (apple and raspberry), some water, some prunes. It was a little odd, but, hey, it seemed better than eating food I didn't want. Of course, right now I want chocolate. And I might just have some.

Here's the website of the practitioner in Chicago I found:

And thank you once again for being willing to take the time to share your expertise and your experience with me/us; that's very generous of you, and I appreciate it!


9:50 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

Homemade fruit leather--that's awesome! Do you need a dehydrator to make it?

(btw, millet can counteract the effects of dairy. You could try eating it once a week.)

Thanks for the link, and thank YOU for giving me the chance to ramble on about a beloved topic.

8:18 AM  

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