The imperfect path to health and healing

For a good 15 years of my life, I was a desk-bound worker.

Here is me with a yummy birthday cake on June 1st 2016 made by a lovely colleague.

I loved my work promoting solar projects in the UK, Africa and Latin America, and I loved my colleagues. But there was a big problem: my health was deteriorating. 

I got frequent colds and viruses that would take weeks to shift. 

I often felt bloated.

Insomnia was a recurrent problem.

A particular period of work stress in 2015 gave me heart palpitations for weeks; sudden bursts in my chest sparked every 10 seconds, or a thud or a racing beat every few minutes. 

Yet I was only 35 and otherwise very healthy. Why was this happening to me?

One blustery autumn evening in 2016 I stumbled into my first ever Shiatsu session. 

Two weeks later I signed up to study for the three-year Professional Practitioner Diploma. I fit studies around my PR Consultancy work, and voluntary Shiatsu for a UK social change charity.

Yet even though I was enjoying both my PR work and studying/practising Shiatsu, I was often feeling unwell and unstable.

The reality was (though I couldn’t see it at the time) that I was unconsciously overloading myself. I signed up to acroyoga classes; I did a two month carpentry course and joined a coaching programme. 

So throughout 2019, periods of poor health continued. My colds lingered, and my energy levels plummeted. Getting out of bed each day got harder and harder. My social life was almost non-existant.

When a work contract terminated very suddenly and unpleasantly in April 2019, it came as both a shock and a gift. Finally, I had the downtime I needed – but this was clouded at the time by financial worries.

In fact, everything was becoming increasingly clouded including my memory. I lost two treasured items of clothing and often mixed up social dates with friends.

I knew I needed to make some drastic changes.

In retrospect, I now recognise that I was experiencing symptoms of burnout.

In Shiatsu, we understand that we have a finite pot of energy (stored in the Kidneys). I was rapidly burning through mine, giving out more energy than I was replenishing. For too long I had ignored advice from friends to “slow down”.

(Going slow is now such a focus for my life that I named my weekly newsletter: Go Slow Friday Letter. Get yours here!)

White space

In January 2020, I finally moved to India on a one-way ticket, with no plan.

This meant I could prioritise my health. The lower cost of living meant I could create “white space” for myself: time to rest, recharge and practice “doing not-doing”. This is a Taoist concept focused on “effortless action”.

With no other Shiatsu Practitioners in the area, I had no option but to practice Self-Shiatsu!

Shiatsu all for me! As much as I needed, whenever I needed it!

I added pressure points to my bedtime routine, morning stretches to open up energy channels and worked meridians as required eg to calm nerves as the pandemic took hold.

I set up SJA Holistics in Goa, then in June 2021 I took my practice to Dharamsala, part of four months of travels this summer around India.

(If you’re a Practitioner and want to know how I did this, hit REPLY and let me know you’re interested in my How-To Practitioners’ Guide.)

Let your intuition guide you

I didnt know I needed Shiatsu nor what it was that made me book my first session.

But I guess I knew deep down that something wasnt right, and that I could and should feel much better than I did at the time.

Amongst the depression, brain fog, the lack of social life that I rarely had the energy for, the loss of enjoyment in things I used to love, and the re-shaping of my life into one that is more sustainable (emotionally, physically, financially etc) there have been some big learnings. 

Happy outcomes of my imperfect healing path

  1. Self-Shiatsu has been a joy to experience. Protecting my health and boosting immunity using the variety of practices within the Shiatsu field feels empowering.
  2. Health and healing are never linear experiences. Our moods fluctuate day to day, even hour to hour, and even more so over the rollercoaster of the last 18 months. Shiatsu gives you an awareness of the complex interconnections affecting our health, and tools to work with each level: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
  3. Prevention really is better than cure. I didn’t experience full burnout but I got close. 
  4. Trust your intuition. You often know exactly what you need but we are conditioned to turn to external “experts” for answers. Moving to India is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Within a month of landing, I’d secured a gorgeous resort to practice from. When things flow effortlessly, you know you’re on the right path. 
  5. Your body is always sending you signals. Are you listening? Perhaps you need different nourishment, more rest, isn’t comfortable in some environments, needs a routine, is feeling overwhelmed, needs time alone. If you’re unsure how to read the signs, I can help you make sense of it all.

Final thought: there is no perfect path to health nor is there one blueprint that works for everyone. This is why Shiatsu is so powerful – it considers you as the unique being you are.

Interested to know how self-Shiatsu could benefit you? Get in touch!

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About Me

I founded SJA Holistics to help people get well, feel great, and stay well using the power of practices derived from Eastern Medicine including Shiatsu, Reiki, Acupressure and Qi Gong.

For over a decade I’ve worked with Ki and have first-hand experience of how energy- and body-work can lead to positive health. Working with the energy body as well as the physical can bring profound changes to mental, emotional and physical issues.

After completing three years of study for the Professional Shiatsu Diploma, I honed my experience working voluntarily for six months in a national UK charity giving Shiatsu to people recovering from substance misuse.

It is my mission to help you recognise your own self-healing ability and to empower you with the skills and knowledge you need to dramatically improve your self-care.

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My Approach

We create your current health picture. Then we get clear on your goals so that we are aligned from the outset. This makes it easier to monitor progress.

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Intelligent Energy

Every one of us has a universal energy, also known as lifeforce, chi, prana and Ki, that underpins our whole existence, and within that, our health. Stimulating the flow of Ki is how you can get well, feel great and stay well.

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