Jin Shin Do uses a combination of direct finger pressure and focusing techniques to release tension, promote relaxation, and balance the flow of energy throughout the body. It emphasizes the mind-body-spirit connection and often results in both a physical and an emotional release.
What Is Jin Shin Do?
First introduced in the 1970s by American psychotherapist Iona Teeguarden, this unique style of acupressure integrates theories and techniques from several Eastern modalities including Jin Shin Jyutsu, Chinese acupuncture, and qigong. It also incorporates Western concepts from Eriksonian psychotherapy and Wilhelm Reich’s segmental armoring theory.
Jin Shin Do is founded on the belief that life energy, or qi (chi), flows along several pathways throughout the body. When these pathways become blocked, the flow of energy is interrupted and physical and emotional symptoms may result. Proponents of Jin Shin Do believe the normal flow of energy can be restored when pressure is applied to the specific points on the body that correspond to these blocked channels.
Translated, Jin Shin Do means “the way of the compassionate spirit.” In accordance with this meaning, practitioners approach each client with compassion, never judging or forcing a release. They listen to the client’s body, allowing it to direct them to areas that need attention and to dictate the pace of the session. Practitioners also recognize that the mind, body and spirit are all connected and that physical tension may indicate emotional trauma or hidden memories. The client’s awareness of muscle tension is an essential aspect of treatment, and the emotional processing of such tension is encouraged.
What Happens in a Jin Shin Do Session?
A Jin Shin Do session typically begins with a thorough assessment to determine areas of chronic tension (known as armoring) in the client’s body in addition to any emotional problems they may be facing. The massage therapist asks questions, evaluates the client’s pulse, and manually assesses important acupoints on the client’s body.
Depending on the pattern of tension, specific combinations of acupoints are pressed or held for several minutes at a time until a release of tension is felt. The practitioner usually begins by pressing points in the neck and shoulder before moving on to other areas in need of attention. In Jin Shin Do, at least two points are held at the same time. With one finger, the practitioner presses a point in an area of tension—the “local point”—and uses the other hand to press one or more ‘distal points’ on other parts of the body. These distal points lie along the same energy pathway as the local point and help it to release tension more quickly.
Acupoints are typically held for one to five minutes at the specific angles thought to produce optimal results. Prolonged pressure allows clients time to sink deeper into their bodies, sensing the tension and opening up to any feelings, memories, and images that arise. By means of verbal encouragement, breathing exercises, and visualization, practitioners also helps clients become more aware of what is happening in the body. As different points are held, clients may be encouraged to express how these areas of the body feel and talk about any emotions, sensations, or memories they might be experiencing. Clients may choose to remain silent, but it is believed that talking about these sensations can help facilitate psychological release in addition to the physical release of tension.
Jin Shin Do is usually performed with the client lying face-up and fully clothed on a massage table. Although firm, and sometimes deep, pressure is used, the practitioner ensures the intensity remains at a level that is comfortable for the client. Sessions usually last between 60 and 90 minutes. At the end of a session, clients who request it may be taught how to hold points on their own bodies in order to relieve tension.
How Can Jin Shin Do Help?
Jin Shin Do is slow, gentle and non-invasive. It is known to reduce muscle tension and promote deep relaxation. This bodywork practice is also known to help ease conditions and symptoms such as:
- Headaches and migraines
- Neck, shoulder and back pain
- Joint pain
- Respiratory problems
- Digestive issues
Jin Shin Do has also been used to relieve emotional stress and to help calm individuals in the aftermath of trauma. Clients often report leaving sessions with an increased sense of awareness and a greater sense of well-being.
Contraindications of Jin Shin Do
Since there is no rubbing, kneading, or stretching in Jin Shin Do, very few contraindications exist for this type of bodywork. However, there are some acupoints that should be avoided during pregnancy, so those who are pregnant are encouraged to discuss their interest in this bodywork with their primary care provider before pursuing treatment. Jin Shin Do is also not recommended for people receiving radiation therapy. It is generally advised not to combine Jin Shin Do with other forms of energy therapies since one approach might affect the outcome of the others.
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