Why Shiatsu for treating stress and trauma?

Shiatsu is probably not the first treatment modality one would think of when looking into treatments for mental health issues.  Historically, "talking" therapies have been the accepted mode for helping people that are struggling with their mental health but why, when so many of us have real physical symptoms?


What causes these symptoms? 

When we are stressed, there are several instinctive, primal responses.  The first set is fight & flight, our nervous system releases huge amounts of energy in preparation to fight or flee.  If we are unable to do this, be it physically impossible or socially unacceptable (real or perceived), we go into flop/freeze (this is a clever survival tactic - predators are governed by their prey drive, if it moves - kill it, so by staying still the predator may lose interest).  With either response, in the animal kingdom, when the danger has passed, the animal will "shake it off". Literally.  They use shaking, muscle tics, running, jumping etc to use the energy that was not completely discharged.  We have evolved with the same responses, but often our real or perceived social expectations cause us to seek to control it/hide it, the result being that the energy is not discharged.  Every form of energy does not just disappear, it has to transform into something else, so in the case of our bioenergy, if it is not used productively, the body will find ways to use it, often inappropriately, such as anger outbursts, general aggression, headaches, high blood pressure etc.  In the case of flop/freeze, it can be difficult to fully re-engage with life, causing lethary, inability to connect (with people and life), depression etc.



So how can Shiatsu help?

Often when we talk about our experiences, we also "feel" them in our body.  Our memory is not just in our brain/mind, memory is a whole body & soul experience.  In Shiatsu, we harness the unspoken aspect of the memory, the energetic pattern, and work to transform it, changing the way it feels - physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. 

For those that are not ready to talk about "it", Shiatsu is a fantastic alternative.



At it's most basic, having a Shiatsu will help to flick the switch - to take you out of your Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) and into the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS).  From here, your heart rate, breathing rate, cortisol, adrenaline and all other stress responses will quieten.  Your muscles can relax. Once in the PNS, you are less likely to misread people's intentions or to feel threatened, you feel more able to communicate and more able to engage socially - to connect.

Once in the (PNS), you become more open to change, the patterns of tension that you were holding begin to release and with them, the energetic pattern that was holding the tension.  From here, we can let go of a lot of baggage, we can move forward knowing that it does not hold us.

I should point out here, that there are many types of therapies that have the potential to take you into the PNS. Shiatsu is distinct, in that it uses mindful intent to "listen" to the receiver and follow subtle cues to release patterns.