One of the many forms of massage offered at the Spa at the Montcalm, zen shiatsu has evolved from ancient treatments that deliberately tapped into Japanese spiritual philosophy, the aim being that via a technique involving the practitioner’s hands, thumbs, elbows, knees and feet, both your body and mind become more balanced and positive and, ideally, potential ailments you might suffer from are prevented.
When broken down, zen shiatsu’s name – a combination of ‘Zen’ and ‘shiatsu’ – effectively defines what the massage practice is. One of the sects of Buddhism, Zen is all about training the mind through meditation in order to achieve total enlightenment through the discovery of one’s basic nature. In fact, manytenets of Japanese culture owe a big influence to Zen;everything from aikido to judo, gardening to architecture and calligraphy to haiku (poetry). Traditionally, shiatsu refers to Japanese pressure therapy, applied to relieve the likes of back,neck and shoulder pain, stress, insomnia, digestive issues and fatigue. Originally based on traditional Chinese medicine techniques with Japanese innovations, it acquired its name thanks to the book Shiatsu Ho (Shiatsu Method), published in 1919, and spread beyond Japan in the 20th Century thanks to Tokujiro Namikoshi, the founder of modern shiatsu.
Zen shiatsu, a spiritually-informed interpretation of shiatsuthen,was established by Shizuto Masunaga, a pupil of Namikoshu’s. While developing what would become zen shiatsu, Masunaga was a professor of psychology at Tokyo University and taught psychology at the Japan Shiatsu School. Then, in the late 1970s, his student Wataru Ohashi brought him to the United States, where he wrote two books about the theory behind zen shiatsuand its practical applications, contributing greatly to its growth in popularity in the West.
Following Masunaga’s direction, for zen shiatsu to be effective its practitioner has to be committed to and consistent in their meditative activity, so they might detect the body’s responses to the treatment. The practitioner applies pressure to all parts of the body along specific pathways (meridians), which essentially are the same meridians used in traditional Chinese medicine for acupuncture, although modified and extended by Masunaga, in order to restore balanced flow in these pathways and stimulate the natural healing powers of the body.
To put it inmore Western terms, zen shiatsu aims to calm the autonomic nervous system, as well as aid blood and lymph circulation to improve muscle tone, encourage healthy internal organ functions and strengthen the immune system. Usually performed while the recipient lies on a futon on the floor, a zen shiatsu massage ideally involves the practitioner accessing the body from all sides as they apply pressure through their own body weight, giving a series of presses along the meridians.
As noted above, a zen shiatsu massage should only be enacted by a masseuse versed in the practice and dedicated to the spiritual meditation that’s a necessary component. However, as with all practitioners of the different treatments available at our exquisite spa to be found in the graceful Montcalm Hotel , itself at the head of Park Lane in the heart of the West End, you can be assured our therapists are fully committed to performing them in exactly the correct manner, ensuring they comply with zen shiatsu’s spiritual conventions that make them so unique and valuable a component of our diverse range of therapeutic offerings.