top of page

Shiatsu Blog : Healing with shiatsu

I've had this book on my shelf for years, I've started it a couple of times but never really got into it; I expect you've got books like that!

I think a time comes along when you open that book again and then you REALLY read it, and it makes sense and it explains things in a way that is completely enlightening and the right time to embrace the messages within. This book is called 'Waking the tiger: Healing trauma' by Peter Levine PHD.

The further I get into this book the more it explains why shiatsu is a go-to therapy to resolve the issues that arise in our bodys. I've been receiving shiatsu since the summer of 2005, I felt I needed something really therapeutic, but for me it's always been bodywork and less so talking about things. I'd been having crancial osteopathy since I was 20 years old and I it helped me with all the muscular skeletal issues that I had at that time and had been putting up with since I was a child. I didn't know a day when I wasn't stiff or in pain until I started osteo, and then the pain tended to get worse as it 'came out' and then I got more and more tension headaches and sore throats and I just thought that this was 'how life was'.

I'd had knee pain everyday of my life since about the age of 5, then it was growing pains, but at the age of 30 no one could use that excuse any more. I had a back problem, neck problem, shoulder problem, IBS, anxiety and more. The cranial osteopathy was brilliant, it got be so far, my back issue resolved over time but I was still left with everything else.

I was really lucky that my osteopath John was interested in other things, he started learning about 'energetics'. I didn't know what this was, he was only starting in this area but I said 'hey if it helps, I'm happy to try'. One day I burst into tears and I cried for about 3 hours, he didn't know what to do! I was alright though it felt like a major release, which it was. It this incident when I made the connection that body work was also helping me relieve emotional stress.

It was all very experimental at the time, but John progressed more and more into energetics and I happily went along on his journey as I was feeling better, it was helping me cope with life; and I'm also fascinated by the things 'we don't understand'.

Sadly John moved away and life moves on and I went without a treatment for a couple of years until one day I thought I desperately needed something and I came across Shiatsu. I'd never heard the word but I know acupuncture (not a fan of needles!) and I'd even done an acupressure course so I was intrigued.

And it was life changing, I couldn't describe exactly how; only that I felt better.

So much so that within 3 months of my first session I was booked on a the 3 year practitioner-training diploma course.

I suffered from regular sore throats, they vanished (barely had one now in nearly 20 years) when I was used to having one or more a month. Headaches gone, that life long knee pain - gone, back good, shoulders good, anxiety vanished. All of it gone, gone, gone... and that was without even trying to do anything, it just went the more shiatsu I had, and the more training I had to understand about how we push emotion into our body. That's when it sits as stuck energy causing pain, stiffness and a host of other problems.


You don't have to really understand all the theory that goes on behind shiatsu and why it works. I do explain some chinese medicine to the clients that want to learn, and I put it in laymans terms for others, and some just want the sensation and that feels good; and that's enough.

I've never been very good putting into words what's actually going on in your body with a shiatsu, but on reading Peter Levine's book 'Waking the Tiger' it explains it perfectly so I'm going to use some quotes from his book which really tap into what's going on in your body that causes you to have ailments when emotions get stuck, and importantly how shiatsu is a fantastic medium for helping you resolve stuck and problematic energy.

'Old trauma symptoms are examples of bound up energy and lost lessons.

Becoming physiologically stuck in the immobility response'

Something has taken place at some point and being undealt with at the time it has become embedded energetically somewhere in your physiology, maybe at a point of weakness like your gut or your shoulder. This becomes a chronic condition for you and when it becomes so noticeable that it interferes with your life you seek help. Sometimes its released, you feel the relief and you don't seek another treatment until it returns. However to resolve it entirely means we need to understand what caused it in the first place. So many things we put up with came about through social conditioning, and this means we didn't resolve it at the time. For example, lashing out, crying, stomping, shouting, leaving the room, slamming the door, having a rant, telling someone what you really think of them, and far far more. The 'energy' of the incident has been internalised, pushed into an organ, or a muscle and become stuck; it's trapped energy. At the time you may not notice, but it'll be there and it'll rise again as a chronic niggle of some intensity. Then something similar may happen and that'll be repressed too and exacerbate your current issue until it becomes a pain and at some point require attention.

In the parasympathetic response to danger, we have the fight or flight response - these are healthy but nowadays totally under utilised due to social conditioning, it's not appropriate to punch a colleagues light's out, so unless you go punch something else, this energy is surging through you and you can't release it; it's got trapped. You can't run screaming from the room when you've had a bad review, it just isn't done... but it might be what you want to do, as that is your response to a stressful situation. As you've not flown, the energy you've released into your body to prepare you for dash is pushed inwards.

Then there is freeze, the third scenario, you know the phrase ' rabbit in the headlights'. The problem with freeze is, is that it also needs to resolved, other wise you are left trapped in the 'immobility response'. Think about a zebra being chased by a lion out in the wilderness. The zebra gets away and it's first response is to 'shake it off', it's flown and then it's discharged the excess energy; and goes back to the flock and back to grazing - job done!

Then you have other animals that 'play dead' the freeze response, and when they come out of it you will also see them shaking, they're releasing this pent up energy. And that's the key, they are releasing....

But humans don't do this now, we've lost this ability, especially in the west, we've become disengaged from our natural response to stress and trauma and we hold onto it rather than release it.


I've always said that shiatsu is fantastic at prevention and it is, but what happens if you turn up with various pains and ailments, all attributed to 'stuck' energy from trauma responses? Shiatsu can help you start to listen to and feel these issues physically within; with the ultimate goal to releasing them. It does need to be gentle and this is why shiatsu suits, it's a gentle therapy, it listens to the changes in your body it doesn't pummel them because it thinks that's what you need.

Felt sense - it's a feeling within that is far greater than words can describe and more

complex than stating an emotional word.

The more gentle the work on your body, the more you become in tune with listening to it. This is known as the 'felt sense', sensations come from symptoms, and symptoms from blocked energy; and so it is this energy that we tap into and release to resolve your issue once and for all. It's about gradually decompressing your energetic issue, and not beating it into submission only for the issue to return a few days later. How many times have you had a deep tissue massage thinking it the right thing to do only for the original issue to be back in a matter of days?

I love when clients say 'this may sound weird but, it feels like.....' insert food, inanimate objects, colours, smells and more. I always say 'nothing is weird if it's what you feel'. Hey, I can taste colours, most specfically when tasting a new wine for the first time!

The 'Sensations' you may feel whilst experiencing a release (or blockage) during shiatsu maybe out of your range of words for the feeling that you have and so you use metaphors to describe/ liken to what you feel going on inside. This is okay, it means you're tapping into changes within your body that you will have never listened to before in your life, you are now internalising your awareness, this is the 'felt sense'. Not many people can do this naturally, but it can be learned (as I did when receiving osteo and shiatsu); and a therapy like shiatsu is fantastic at taking you on this journey.

Dr Peter Levine is now a leading specialist in understanding trauma and healing it, and he states that it is resolved using physiology as well as psychology, and that for too long it was believed that trauma was only in the realm of your psyche, but now:

'Therapies that employ the 'felt sense' are generally more effective than those that don't. Feel more natural, more grounded and at home in your body. Enhance your balance and coordination and

provide a deeper access to the subtle and instinctual impulses that guide the healing process...

let the body speak its mind'.

THAT is shiatsu. It's an intelligent and subtle therapy, it listens and it allows space for change. I help you tap into and listen to this as your own healing is within you. I maybe pressing some points on your body to bring you into touch with your own self, I may even be helping some stubborn muscles to relax or frightened muscles to let go, but to keep it that way ultimately you should be in charge of how your body comes back into balance and remains there. With my help you can manage and sustain your own healing responses, and with this outcome you'll feel more energetic, emotionally balanced and flexible in body and mind.

'To re-integrate yourself in mind, body and soul you need the desire to become whole again'

Dr Peter Levine


This is a gentle process that will take some regular sessions; the first session is about getting to know you, understanding how your energy works and for you to leave feeling relaxed., Don't worry about being dropped down the well from the off, it's more like being guided along a path to changing how your energy is working. You may come because you have a very real ache or ailment and this is natural. Once you've experienced shiatsu and can 'feel' how it is changing you then it's something to stay with as you'll be resolving your issues on a much deeper level than other massage therapies.

Shiatsu is gentle finger pressure on the acu points that are used in chinese medicine. These points have been used for thousands of years and are well known for releasing pain, tension, increasing flexiblity, calming the mind and the gut, releasing trauma and letting go of stress that can be the underlying cause of many of your issues.

Contact Andrea for a chat to find out how shiatsu can help you. Book a healthy and vitality call here.


  • Instagram
  • Facebook Basic Square
Follow Me
bottom of page