New Year Detox – a different view

At this time of year, the magazines are so full of recommendations for cleansing and protecting our vulnerable, polluted bodies from external and internal contamination that it almost seems like a paranoia.

On one level, sure, we can shift accumulations of stagnant or gummed-up Ki with cleansing foods and juices – another step is combining that with exercise.  Even better, cleansing with mindful breathing.  Isn’t the mindful part the key here?  How about starting with a different mindset?  We’re so used to thinking, in our Western way, that the body is basically impure.  The philosophy of Ki that permeates our practice shows us a different story.

If we do Shiatsu or another therapy linked to Asian philosophies, we can think differently about cleansing.  Our “upright Ki” is innately pure, our Shen is clear and spacious by nature.  Qigong connects us with Heaven and Earth, Tai Chi cleans up our movements by taking them into the essential alternation of Yin and Yang.  Hara breathing connects our centre with the Ki of the outside world.

Obviously we need to eat food that’s as fresh and un-tampered-with as possible and if we live in a city we need to get into a green space.  (It helps to get the cleaner air into our lungs and harmonize with the Ki of nature – as in the Japanese tradition of Shinrin-yoku, “forest-bathing”.)  But what I’m saying is that the central core of our Ki, body as well as energy, is pure from the beginning.  It’s our connection with the source, the well-springs of life, and we need to trust that and nourish our connection with it.

Cleansing comes from within, our Ki-bodies are self-cleansing mechanisms.  That’s not something I read about in the magazines.


Christmas Over-Indulgence?

Well, I didn’t step away from the Prosecco, at least not for long enough, and I’m sorry now…..  Christmas puts a big strain on the digestive system in general.  What to do about that blocked feeling, the upset stomach, the gloomy feeling as the belly expands and the thighs wobble?

Well, obviously (unless you’re already back at work) the first thing is to put away the box of chocolates (perhaps lock it away?) and get up off the sofa.  A walk in the open air is an amazing tonic.  In Shiatsu terms, walking benefits the Spleen  because it gets the muscles moving, it benefits the Liver and Gall-Bladder because it moves stagnated Ki, it benefits the Large Intestine and Lung by expelling stale Air-Ki and taking in new. And daylight plus movement increase our Yang energy and brighten our outlook as a result. 

Let’s not overdo it by running or jogging if we are not already used to it.  Just walking is great exercise, preferably in a park or wood, or some other kind of natural surroundings.  Wear good shoes and just walk for half an hour or up to an hour.

Our structure and physiology is made for movement.  Movement pumps our blood around better, increases oxygenation of our cells; all our different tissues, muscle, bone, fascia, tendons, all slide around each other, loosen up and get lubricated  Communication between our different parts improves as movement activates the receptors in our muscles.  All of this is saying just the same thing as I said in Shiatsu language in the paragraph above, just saying it in a more Western way.

When you are comfortably back on the sofa again (minus that box of chocolates you locked away), try pressing a few points to remind your body how to do it.

Stomach 36 helps your digestion and increases your energy.

Liver 3 calms irritability and relieves headaches.  It gently moves your Ki.

Spleen 6 deeply relaxes us and improves the functioning of Liver, Kidney and Spleen (so the whole digestive system)

 Press so that you feel it, but without squashing your flesh – penetrate gently but deeply.  Communicate with your Ki-body!  Hold for as long as you feel it, release and press again a couple of times.  Both sides.

Hopefully we’re all feeling a bit better now.  Let’s do it all again on New Year’s Day.

Sequel: Hammering is not enough!

If you’ve watched the Manaka Hammer video, I have to tell you that it is not the only way to get rid of Dampness, and by itself it may not be enough.  Dampness is quite hard to shift – it’s sticky stuff.  so as well as using points to shift dampness, you probably have to strengthen your Spleen and Stomach functions.  Food is a great way of shifting Dampness and supporting your Spleen.

Here’s a little display of some of the foods that help remove Dampness

Foods to shift dampness

So these are great to eat or drink  but the bad news is that you have to cut out some foods and drinks as well, as they engender Dampness.  I did have quite a lot of these in my kitchen.  They are mainly for my husband, of course.

Foods that engender Dampness

And also sugary, yeasty drinks.  Oh no, not…….


Yep, I’m afraid so.  Step away from the Prosecco, Carola, it will go straight to your left hip.

Shiatsu “tools” like the Manaka Hammer and Peg for when your hands are tired

Here’s a video on how you might use some tools to help you achieve a specifically dispersing effect or simply for ease in applying pressure if your hands are tired or weak.

The first is the MANAKA HAMMER AND PEG.  Yoshio Manaka (1911-1989) was a gifted physician, acupuncturist and Shiatsu therapist.  His work has influenced such notable figures as Kiiko Matsumoto and Stephen Birch, who have written some of the most insightful books on Japanese energy medicine.

I use the Manaka Hammer and Peg to shift stubbornly resistant areas of congestion, that I have diagnosed via the tongue as being due to an excess condition such as Dampness or Stagnation.  Because it vibrates the body tissues, it is a really useful “mover and shaker”.  I say it in the video and I repeat it here, Don’t use it indiscriminately for any pain, as pain or stiffness can be due to deficiency or kyo, and don’t over-use it, especially on frail or weak receivers.  It works best if you use it on meridians and points.

You can use other massage tools in between the metatarsals and metacarpals and work them into the webs between fingers and toes.  It is a refreshing way of  clearing the ends of the meridians, that can get clogged. You can do this with your hands too, of course, but the tool makes it easier.  With oil or without, over socks or on the skin, it is a nice move that many people enjoy and is quite effective.

Have a look at the video!