Jin Shin Acutouch Energetic Bodywork
by Shawn Riley
To most people receiving massage or bodywork, this means an active, intense, hands-on experience for both the practitioner and the client. However, Jin Shin Acutouch is a powerful hands-on work, which is performed through a quiet bodywork pattern of gentle touches that increase the energy throughout the body and promote healing and change.
"Compassionate Spirit penetrating through touch" describes Jin Shin Acutouch, the touch which stimulates the energy to flow in the channels of the body. Jin Shin Acutouch is a beautiful combination of the ancient arts of Jin Shin Jyutsu, the Five Element Theory, Taoist Yoga, Chi Kung and other meditations, breath therapy, nutrition, herbs, and the principles of Tai Chi Chuan, which offers a complete system of healing.
"Within Oriental tradition, pain and disease in the body or mind stem from, and are manifested by a stagnation or blockage in the vital life force energy called Chi," says Barbara Clark, teacher of Jin Shin Acutouch and director of the International Professional School of Bodywork (IPSB) in San Diego. Clark explains that Jin Shin Acutouch is used as an aid in restoring the body's energy systems to a balanced, efficient, functioning state and has been associated with tranquility, benevolence, and longevity for centuries.
The energy of the practitioner's hands activates the energy flow of the client's body when two points are touched and held simultaneously for one to five minutes. This process also can be accomplished by ones self. The hands serve as "jumper cables" recharging the client's energy system. It is not an exchange of energy between the practitioner and client but rather, the connection is more of an energy conduit allowing the energy to circulate between the two people. As the energy begins to circulate through the body in the proper meridians, the client becomes calm and quiet, allowing a return to a more balanced state of health and well-being.
Clark turned to alternative methods of healing when her own health began to fail. "Doctors told me that asthma was limiting the quality of my life," she said. "Desperation drew me to Oriental healing when my breathing was at a meager 35 percent capacity and I was into my eighth year of dependency on steroids used in treating asthma."
With regular Jin Shin Acutouch treatments, Clark's breathing capacity expanded to 75 percent and she has been off steroids since 1978. Comfortable in her middle years, she has not returned to a hospital for an asthma-related illness in 15 years. "Jin Shin is the most powerful natural healing art that I've ever had the blessing to know," she said.
Jin Shin Acutouch works on the energy level which affects the physical level of the body. Energy points are used on the body to release tension, stagnation, and blockages. This allows the energy to flow in its proper patterns and to strengthen the body and the internal organs. Because the work is done within the body's energy fields, clients who are in physical pain or discomfort find this work to be less intrusive and they can more easily relax during the session.
There are 26 energy points or gateways located on each side of the body, according to the Jin Shin Acutouch theory. Stagnation or blockages can easily occur at these points, causing pain. Once the stagnated energy is cleared, the pain disappears. As the practitioner touches two of these points at the same time - one with each hand - tension releases. When the energy points are touched in a specified pattern, of which there are many, the energy moves through specific pathways giving freer movement through the body's energy system of meridians and organs.
"I find a great comparison between Chi Gung and Jin Shin Acutouch in the body's use of energy," said Scott Maclsaac, 60, one of Clark's students but also a 50-year student and credentialed teacher of martial arts and 20-year student and teacher of Chi Kung. "The patterns of touch intensify energy and produce muscle releasing (for relaxation) and other pathological changes which also can be powerful tools in emotional work." Part of Maclsaac's work with Jin Shin Acutouch is for persons in recovery from alcohol and drugs.
Unlike most bodywork, the Jin Shin Acutouch client remains fully clothed and relaxes on his back for the entire treatment. Treatments usually last about one hour; however, if the client is in pain or discomfort, a shorter treatment can be effective. The energy received from the treatment will last up to eight hours after which time it will settle and be integrated by the body.
The Jin Shin Acutouch system has its own unique theory and associations. The energy generated through the body by Jin Shin Acutouch is directed up the back of the body and down the front of the body based on the Developmental Theory. The body's energy is said to come from heaven down to the front of the body, which is considered yang, masculine, and influenced by personalities, worry, fear, and activities in this life and then up the back, the earth, which is considered yin, feminine, influenced by past generations, and heredity. The back, as feminine, is quiet and receptive while the front, as masculine, is active and seen by all the world.
"The flow patterns accessed through Jin Shin Acutouch begin to change much as a river bed changes when a tree falls across," Clark describes. "Energy begins to dry up completely in some areas, or trickle, dam up, and stagnate in others, like the river. As this begins to occur in the body, symptoms of disharmony begin to emerge. At the start, the symptoms may go unnoticed until the discomfort cannot be ignored. As long as there is life force, changes can be made and when the body is given sufficient rest, vital energy can be moved and healing will take place."
The practitioner's hands are key to the energy movement in the client. The palms, at the center of the hands, are at the total depth level; the source of the life force energy and all of the primary flows. The palms and the soles of the feet are the balancers of the entire body. All conditions can be harmonized through the palms, fingers, and thumbs, according to Jin Shin Acutouch theory.
The patterns for touch were developed by watching people touch themselves and others for relief from pain or tension. These patterns became an art which was passed on orally from generation to generation in ancient China, Japan, and Korea.
In the 1940s, Japanese-American Mary Burmeister went to Japan where she met Jin Shin Master Jiro Murai. He asked her if she would like to study with him and take a gift to America. She agreed and studied with Master Murai for several years before returning to America to teach. Upon Burmeister's return, Clark was introduced to this work.
Jin Shin Acutouch changed Barbara Clark's life. After using it to regain her own health, she began teaching the work to others. Now she offers several workshops and a full internship program each year at IPSB where she serves as the school's full-time director.
For more information about Jin Shin Acutouch, Barbara Clark can be reached at (619) 272-4142 at IPSB, 1366 Hornblend St., Pacific Beach, San Diego.
Shawn Riley, a veteran journalist, is studying within the 1,000-hour holistic health education program at the International Professional School of Bodywork. She has studied Jin Shin Acutouch with Barbara Clark and has incorporated the work successfully within her practice.
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