I've been wanting to write about this topic for ages, how Shiatsu, something as simple as 'finger touch' (that's the literal translation from Japanese) can help you with your mental health.
Probably the most powerful reason for me to do and to receive Shiatsu is that it combines and balances how I feel with how my body feels. I may go in with aches and groans, and I may be in a foggy state of mind, or have a downer on something, but I come out, and feel in the coming days/weeks a different person!
THE BODY/MIND AS ONE
In Eastern culture, there is no such thing as psychology, and this is because the 'bodymind' is all as one, there is no separating them. To me, this makes perfect sense, the brain is literally rooted in our body, and connected via the central nervous system to all of our major organs. If one of them fails or hurts you know it in your head pretty quickly, we know they communicate instantly; so why do we separate out how we feel in our head, heart and soul from how our body is?
The gut is known as the 'second brain', it's full of neurotransmitters, working with the digestive tract but also feeding back to the brain and vice versa via the vagus nerve.
More and more connections are being made and published about how mental health and gut health are linked, I know this, and maybe you do to. Eat healthy, you feel great and then you have confidence and feel like you can do anything. Eat rubbish, you feel sluggish and lethargic and your mind goes the same way, and anxiety is one of the mental health /mindset issues that can set in, along with brain fog , insecurity, overwhelm , fears and phobias.
That shows me that the body/mind link is inextricable. Work to get your gut in good shape, and feel the benefits in a clearer calmer mind.
HOW IS IT PHYSICAL TOUCH CAN BALANCE OUR MIND?
Working on the gut, in the form of good eating and a probiotic, means you're standing your body in good stead with the quality of bacteria in your microbiome; this is a great starting point if you're looking to get on board with healthier and meantally balanced living.
The whole gastric tract runs from your throat, through your stomach, small intestine, and large intestine and out. Along the way all the other organs play a part, the heart, the lungs, liver, pancreas, kidneys; all have a function in aiding 'the gut' as well as keeping you alive in all the other ways. If anyone of these organs is slightly impaired whether physically or energetically, they will not be performing to the best of their abililty. They may have a physical tension or constriction, or may not be working efficiently with knock on effects.
When organs are at 'dis-ease', you may feel them physically as a tenderness or they may refer pain around your body to where their principle nerve inserts to the spine. You may have stomach ache and it could appear as back ache!
Emotional tension plays a big part too. If you think back on a recent episode where you got emotional and had to 'hold it in' where did you feel it being held? A lot of time it can be around the solar plexus / diaphragm area, if you feel like someone is attacking you and you don't want to talk back. If you feel you can't say something it'll feel like a constriction of your throat. Holding things in can also have an effect on the colon, being wound up can affect the liver, and then have a knock on effect to your stomach and small intestine. All of these emotions that you can't let out freely will be held somewhere as a tension within your system.
Another example is grief, when you're feeling sad, do you throw your arms up in the air and say 'wey hey! I'm feeling so sad!!' Or do you hug yourself and close your shoulders down, curling in to feel secure and comforted?
Doing any emotional action for any length of time will have an effect on the muscles that are being used, they can shorten and tighten, and this tension can become very noticeable to you, or it may be felt more at the organ level.
Hopefully this is starting to join the dots between what's going on physically and emotionally and how they are tied together for you? If you have IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and it's been going on for some time, I'm sure you have linked it not only to foods that irritate, but also to emotional stresses that cause flare ups, this is a perfect example of how you feel and how your body reacts are intertwined.
At this time of coming out of the covid lockdown, anxiety is prevalent, and this is valid. We're fearful for our safety, it's our caveman instincts running wild right now, and this is ok, but how can we help ourselves feel secure and grounded again?
The anxiety is rooted in the unknown, and we can't know whether this will be around for years, will we get a vaccine? How will work go? So many unknowns and they are out of our control.
WHAT IS IN CONTROL IS OUR OWN HEALTH
If you have a strong gut and a balanced body , your mind is going to reflect this. Though anxiety is natural , it should only be to a certain extent, if it is running riot with you, your body is not in a strong state. Also, for women in midlife, peri/menopause puts additional stress on and can really exacerbate anxiety. If this is the case please contact me to work with you to alleviate this.
In Eastern Medicine we say that you need good blood to settle the Shen. This is the belief that the 'Shen' your mental state is rooted and balanced when your blood is good. What makes blood good? Nutrition, a healthy gut, and a body that flows....
And this is where we get to the good stuff, Shiatsu makes your body flow!
The energetics of your body, whether it be blood, fluids or your electrical impulses and connection of your nervous system throughout need to flow and circulate to remain healthy. When you get tension from emotional stress, or an imbalance in any of the organs that cause tension or constriction then you won't have optimal flow.
This can be something very obvious, like a frozen shoulder - literally named. You can't move it, its cold, it hurts, the blood is not flowing, the muscles are rock solid, the nerves are screaming, you're in pain. A frozen shoulder can be sympathetically treated and resolved with shiatsu btw :)
Then there are the hidden issues, not obvious, but maybe you feel them unwittingly and you can't put a finger on it, you know it's not right, you don't feel right, but you don't know what is wrong with you. You wonder if it's enough to go to the doctor about, you know you don't need a pain killer, but it's just a bit bleugh!
And you may have seen the GP, and been sent for tests and nothing tangible comes back, and it may never, because the issue is in the energetic realm - tight muscles, lack of blood flow, constricted organ, not quite working as it should.
It's good when nothing comes back in tests, for this reason - the issue is in the energetic realm and has yet to set in physically. We don't really want issues to have become a physical degradation in our bodies, these are far more complex to resolve. Imbalances that are 'energetic' can be resolved by an energetic therapy!
If you have a treatment, and muscles are released and relaxed, blood flows again, minute tensions within are relieved and systems flow again. You will feel relaxed, healthier, more energised, and your mind will be calmer. Issues that were issues are now manageable. Something that would normally really annoy you or get you down, now doesn't seem important. You'll not find that irritating work colleague as bad , and you'll have more patience. You'll have a clearer mind, you'll get work done more efficiently, and in the evenings you'll feel more chilled, and ultimately you will sleep better!
And this is now the positive catch 22 situation , once you sleep better you'll deal with stress better, the less stressed you are, the less likely to get anxious, and this can be a positive cycle of health.
Keep having a regular treatment alongside maximising your gut health, to keep yourself in top health! Feel stronger in body, and keep your mind balance and calm to minimise anxiety. If you need help , I can help you, it starts with a phone chat. We look at all your symptoms, your life health patterns and we start to get you back in balance.
Currently I am unable to do the Shiatsu part due to covid restrictions but if you are anxious I can help you on the path back to feeling strong, robust and great again. Book in for a free 'Shiatsu Health & Vitality' phone chat here