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Zen Tao Shiatsu by Kris Deva North

Zen Tao Shiatsu is a Taoist paradox of Mu-Shin and mindfulness. Zen Tao Shiatsu draws on the same organ-meridian theory as acupressure and acupuncture but differs in approach, aspects of diagnosis, treatment, recommendations, and the personal self-development of practitioners.

The Zen approach to Shiatsu is by the practice of Mu-Shin, or Empty Mind, free of expectation.

The Tao approach is holistic, a hands-on therapy:

to harmonise the flow of energy throughout the entire being: mind, body and spirit;

to seek the underlying cause of conditions as well as relieving symptoms;

to open the Receiverís consciousness to the cause;

to help the Receiver into their own healing process, understanding Earth as the true healer, Shiatsu but an intermediary.

Zen Tao Shiatsu Diagnosis

Intuition is the primary diagnosis, with Looking and Asking to understand how conditions developed, and Sensing and Touching to explore what is happening in the moment.

Intuitive Diagnosis is awareness of the Earth connection between Giver and Receiver, allowing all possibilities of understanding and healing.

Sensing is scanning the energy-field to feel the different energy-levels which may manifest as heat or cold, or a feeling of magnetic connection, or, just a feeling.

Touching Diagnosis is trusting Intuition to take the hands where needed, to harmonise imbalances of:

Kyo - the World of Need, emptiness, lack: often the underlying cause, a more Yin state.

Jitsu - more excessive; more obvious, often the symptom, and more Yang.

Diagnosis is treatment, treatment is diagnosis. The practitioner adapts to the Receiverís response to treatment, combining skill, compassion and intuition.

Zen Tao Shiatsu Treatment works on three levels:

Physical: shiatsu means finger-push. When the Giverís hand, finger or thumb touches the skin of the Receiver, heat is generated, melting the gel around cells. As the gel becomes a solution, suspended toxins are released into the lymphatic system to be eliminated through the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.

Energetic: the solution better allows conduction of the bioelectromagnetic Qiís healing message through the connective tissues and organ-meridian networks regulating the body-mind systems.

Spiritual: where the Mind goes, the Qi follows, and where the Qi flows, the blood follows. Mu-Shin, Connection with Spirit and mindful Intuition lead to Intention: The Giverís Intention is to help, to harmonise, and to allow, with love and compassion, without judgement.

Symptoms are outward signs of inward dis-harmony. The Giver seeks the deficiency which allowed the condition to enter, take hold, grow and flourish! The treatment seeks to tonify the kyo and where appropriate disperse the jitsu.

Always the love and compassion of the Heart Connection infuse the practitionerís Intention, always mindful of the healing power of Earth, supporting from the centre.

Zen Tao Shiatsu Practitioner Training and Attitude

Qi connects mind and body: to help harmonise Qi flow in others, the practitioner looks after the flow in self, with attention to diet, way of living, and meditational exercises such as Qi Gong and Tai Chi.

Intuition, Skill and Knowledge are consciously developed, like the training of mind and muscle in conventional education.

Vulnerability to energy-depletion, contamination, and karmic debt is countered with self-cultivation and spiritual development.

Whether a Receiver suffers from a terminal condition, emotional problem, or simply needs stress relief, the Giver guards against the risk of karmic interference by acknowledging, from a deep well of loving-kindness, that each being is responsible for itself.

"Let the right outcome happen"...without attachment to cure, or success.

The Zen Tao Shiatsu practitioner draws on other forms when guided, with Mu-Shin, by Intuition, through Spirit, without limitation or restrictions of dogma.


Assessing the interplay of elements in the Receiver yields recommendations for self-healing and to prevent recurrence. Chi Self-massage and suggestions about exercise and meditation can help a Receiver transform stress into vitality.

Contra-indications and Controversy

Few conditions are absolutely forbidden treatment.

Cancer - There are two opposing views on shiatsu treatment for cancer with medical evidence for neither. One is that enhancing energy-flow facilitates the spread of cancerous cells. The other claims by fortifying the immune system shiatsu helps counter the side-effects of conventional medical treatment. In practical terms, when a cancer patient seeks out a shiatsu practitioner they have usually sought elsewhere without satisfaction. It is for the individual practitioner to decide.

Children - Shiatsu being "Complementary" and not "Primary" health-care it is both contra-indicated and illegal to treat a sick child instead of referring it to a doctor for medical treatment. A signed disclaimer or authority from the parent does not legalise it!

Infectious/contagious diseases - treatment is contra-indicated.

Pregnancy - in the first trimester pressure is contra-indicated on certain Tsubos with elimination properties.

Inflammation - rotations, stretches and manipulations are contra-indicated.

Adapted from an article "Shiatsu: Ancient Techniques for the 21st Century" by Kris Deva North published in Positive Health magazine Issue 95

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