Shiatsu comes from Japan but its roots touch upon the traditional Chinese healing arts known today as traditional Chinese medicine. TCM aims not to suppress symptoms of various health problems; it searches for the causes of diseases and determines diagnosis and treatment according to them.

Significant Concepts for Understanding the Philosophy

Yin and Yang
Yin and Yang are not statuses or differences but rather methods of expressing changes. It is an incessant transformation and complementation. The image of the monad makes this process more understandable. The circle symbolises unity and unboundedness of the energy that is in everything and does not have a beginning or an end. The division line is a curve, illustrating constant movement, transition of the Yin principle into the Yang principle and vice versa. In each colour, there is a point of the opposite colour. This suggests that everything contains a seed of the opposite quality in itself. Yin and Yang are mutually opposite but one cannot exist without the other.

The Yin and Yang theory is about looking for ways into the centre. Each of us works with the Yin and Yang principles naturally, subconsciously. If we have eaten something salty (Yang), we have the need to complete it with a seriously sweet desert (Yin) or a larger amount of liquid (Yin). If a room is cold, we usually turn the heating on (Yang) or start dancing, jumping, moving … we simply generate heat, which is Yang again. We do not have to think about it, it is natural. The human body, just like anything else on this planet, has its Yin and Yang aspects, features, processes and principles. In shiatsu, we work with them in a very conscious way. The shiatsu system works with 12 main organs: lung and large intestine/liver and gall bladder/stomach and spleen/kidney and urinary bladder/heart and small intestine. They are listed in pairs that belong together, help one another energetically as well as functionally, complement each other, their functions are similar. One of the organs is hollow, i.e. Yang, the other is solid i.e. Yin.

Examples of Yin and Yang:
Yin – earth, woman, thing (matter), dark, cold, passivity, sweetness
Yang – sky, man, energy, light, warmth, activity, saltiness

The constant mutuality needs to be pointed out again, however. Nothing can be only Yin or only Yang. Even darkness contains a bit of light and vice versa. Winter relates to warmth and vice versa, activity precedes passivity, and then takes over again, etc.

The Yin and Yang energies constantly change from one to the other. We recognise five stages in these transformations – five transformations of energy.The Yin and Yang theory represents the foundation of Far Eastern philosophy, the basis of Taoist teachings on the working and transformation of things and phenomena. Yin originally means the dark, shady side of the mountain, while Yang means the lit side of the mountain. The mountain symbolises the existence as such and Yin and Yang exist around it in constant mutual influencing. Unlike European dualist philosophy, the contrast of Yin and Yang lies in their mutual complementation and reciprocal dependency.

Five Transformations of Energy

The theory of five energy transformations represents another classification of the Yin and Yang principles into different forms of the Ki energy. These forms are described by the qualities of five elements: Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth. You may sometimes see it under the name of “Five Elements”. The connotations of the term “element”, however, are far less fixed in Chinese than in our languages. Therefore, it cannot be translated or explained with one word as its meaning lacks the dynamic aspect. The Chinese expression is Wu-Sing. Wu means “five” and Sing means to move, to do, to perform. It thus means five movement forces. Their mutual workings give rise to all other forms of being, and together, they form one dynamic whole. That is why the theory is often referred to by a more alternative term as “five phases” or “five energy transformations”. Like the Yin and Yang theory, this theory is also based on observing natural cycles and classifications based on mutual workings of individual phenomena.

To the element of wood, we assign – spring, morning, birth – childhood, green colour, sour taste, organs of liver and gall bladder and the emotion of anger.
To the element of fire, we assign – summer, noon, adultness, red colour, bitter taste, organs of heart and small intestine and the emotion of joy.
To the element of earth, we assign – Indian summer, afternoon, mature age, orange, ochre, yellow colour, sweet taste, organs of spleen and stomach and the emotion of melancholy, broodiness.
To the element of metal, we assign – autumn, evening, ageing, white colour, spicy taste, organs of lung and large intestine and the emotion of sadness.
To the element of water, we assign – winter, night, death, dark blue, black colour, salty taste, organs of kidney and urinary bladder and the emotion of fear.

Share Button