Meeting the Client

by Claire Best

What originally attracted me to Bill s’ course was the interest in having the knowledge of how to work with people who are stuck in chronic patterns and conditions which are hard to change in their life. Such chronic conditions affect our well being and can prevent us from moving forward. I thought of my sister who is diagnosed with Schizophrenia and wondered in what way she could benefit from this.

What I didn’t know was that I too would be able to use the tools to help tackle my own emotional issues which I felt were blocking my own connection with people.

The treatments I had been doing seemed to be working at some level but I wanted to connect to my clients more. I felt there was something missing.

Along with Hara diagnosis, I was in need of some verbal dialogue to help support my understanding and connection with my client. I wanted to be more confident in my verbal exchange to help reveal what they really needed from the treatment.

My first meeting with Bill was outside the front door of Gaunt house in Devon, where we were to have our first Movement Shiatsu weekend. I was walking with a group of people on the course and this smiling man came forward towards the group showing such warmth and embracement. I thought,’ Who is he?’ I was a bit taken back that he was our teacher as my mental image of him was that he had looked quite harsh in the pictures. I immediately felt welcome and at ease. I instantly decided that this sort of friendliness is what I would like to achieve when I meet my clients for the first time. For some conditioned reason, I am very nervous and cautious when meeting new people and this is not the signal I want to give to my clients! I also have a built in memory of past hierarchical teachers in my life, having been emotionally distant and critical and this has somehow filtered into me, I think! Therefore, having this in-sight now makes me realise that perhaps I was experiencing false visual data as I looked at Bills picture for the first time and came to a conclusion before I actually met him! This is so important in meeting people for the first time; not to make a presumption or judgment.

The next meeting was in the ballroom where we sat in a circle and met the whole group. This sort of arrangement can be intensely uncomfortable for me and as I found out for most of the group too. In opposition, there is also a feeling of huge openness and support that fear can that be dissolved. Bill has such supportive, calm presence that it is not long before it starts to rub off on me. I have such a sensitive awareness that I tend to react with what is presented to me or I will react by blocking my emotions in order to cope.

Bill spoke about how Movement Shiatsu was developed and inspired by the developmental movements through which babies learn to grow. As a baby, in order to grow and survive in life, we need to learn basic life skills; to get what we want and reject what we don’t want. He connected our basic needs and physical movements of growth and development with the 6 Divisions.

He believes that the meridian pairs closely follow the life cycle of a baby into adulthood and devised a 3-Dimensional approach to people for diagnosis. Each pair relate to an archetypal pathway, a developmental function and a physical aspect. All of which are connected to our journey of growth. If some aspect of a dimension is lost or forgotten, the person may be stuck in a pattern, preventing their own development and progress in life. Movement Shiatsu allows the client to progress forward in life and to deepen their growth.

Another part of Movement Shiatsu is to make an agreement with the client about what they think they may want to work on. This occurs at the beginning of the treatment, when you both first meet. The context of the dialogue may present what you will be working with. There is a contract between you and the client with what you are going to work on.

If the spoken descriptive stories are transported into the client being aware of an expressive emotion/sensation within the body, a smoother transfer into body work can occur. The client has an understanding of what is happening in the treatment.

This work brings the client into that very moment in the room and enables him/her to experience the truth. Holding on to the experience of the sensation, however uncomfortable can help the client be aware of something they may have forgotten or got used to, therefore enabling them to make a choice and eventually release it and move forward . The experimental exercises support this transformation and acknowledgment.

The specific experimental exercises are given during and for after the session to help strengthen an aspect of a dimension and help the client to embody a quality of a meridian. Giving clients ‘homework’ to do, transfer back any projection that the practitioner is going to fix them and empowers them to help themselves. Movement shiatsu is client led;

Involving them more aids their own understanding of themselves.

We also worked through a sequence of yoga sun salutes and postures that tones the divisions. We would apply a specific quality to the way we practiced the sequence.

For example, if we wanted to embody the quality of Tai Yang , we would focus on how we could push and reach within the postures by initiating the movements with our head or tail bone.

If we wanted to suggest the quality of Yang Ming and Tai Yin , we would practise with the thought of pushing and yielding . Pushing down into the earth until we felt a natural push back up which than lifted us into the next posture.

This quality applied to our quality of touch, represents the yielding of the stomach moving down into the tissue until we meet something springy which than pushes us back up.

Throughout the year, Bill also gave us some wonderful experimental exercises for us to do as a group. This helped us personify the essence of a quality of touch. Having experienced a quality and my body being able to remember it, really enabled me to than give that quality of touch to a client for them to then embody.

Therefore, the body work we do helps the client to receive the information by the quality of our touch.

One afternoon in order for us to experience Tai Yin (Spleen and Lung)  energy, we played with springiness by doing contact improvisation; Remaining in contact with a person, we yielded and pushed against each other whilst dancing around one another, never losing contact. We first started with a rubber ball between our bodies to feel the spring, then it was removed and we worked body to body. Everyone was having such a laugh doing this because we all found our inner spring and glowed. This can be translated into our relationship within a treatment. Working with another with no agenda{spontaneity}, allowing energy to push, yield and play. This meeting is intimate but not sexual. After I felt confident to really lean in and meet the energy of the client. I made more contact.

Have you ever seen Bill striding towards you or across a room? He has such a bounce in his heel, representing how in touch he is with his Tai Yin.

We worked, strengthened and experienced the essence of the 6 Divisions by working with the Six Forms of Touch

Tai Yin– Toning tissue by finding the spring.  Meeting someone at their boundary. Expanding through breath work & working with the organs.

Yang Ming– Helping the client to ask for what they need and to correct the practitioner when they are doing something not needed. Working with gravity and relationship to the ground. Push & yield.

Shao Yin– Spontaneous movement, listening to the client; the client leads. Amplifying very subtle movements of the inner body and helping them to spread into the whole body.

Tai Yang– Embodiment of clarity. Speaking truth, being authentic as a practitioner, sharing what you notice as solid reality rather than what you feel.-Touching bone. Aligning the skeleton so that action and intention, push and reach go together..

Shao Yang– Integrating conflicting energies- making an agreement. Yielding & pushing. Working with both sides of joints, both sides of a conflict, seeing how they dialogue and dance together. Moving with elasticity & spirals

Jue Yin-Connecting to the centre.  Joining all parts of the body together. Embracing everything as being a valuable part of the self. Honouring the Jitsu.

Using body work or exercise  to help someone explore themselves instead of trying to fix them.

Yang Ming and Tai Yin relate to our child Archetype. Its function enables us to get what we want and push away what we don’t need. Think of the large intestine pointing finger saying ’NO’.

The Spleen aspect is about embodying every part of our self and being our self. Bill quoted,’’Being your self and not managing your self’’.

The quality of touch here is to bring back the buoyancy within and create a feeling of inner support. We worked with the muscle tissue to bring the spring back into them and we encourage the breath to awaken an area to give the client a feeling of wholeness and to acknowledge their boundaries.

For the exercises, we encourage the client with movements of reaching and pushing to help them to relate to the meridian function of Yang Ming. To get them in touch with their Tai Yin, we use a bouncy ball for them to bounce on and than to stand up to root their feet and legs into the ground. This helps them find their expansive spring within, to connect to the earth. This action wakes up our reflexes.

Reflexes are deep inside us and can be forgotten. We did a lot of work on reawakening our nervous system to re- stimulate our natural impulses.

Shao Yin and Tai Yang relate to our Warrior archetype. Its function is to give us an aim. It is about our journey and our actions. Reconnecting to our authentic motivations and developing the ability to really listen to the truth within. Tai Yang is about clarity of direction and we worked with the skeletal alignment, aligning a reach for a route to be taken. The push moves through a spiral to bring us forward. The reach comes from our eyes as we move towards what we want. This engages the spine which creates the action.

We worked with getting in touch with the bones. Working with ‘bone to bone’ touch, we gave clarity of touch to the spine and all joints.

Shao Yin teaches the client to reconnect to their instincts and reflexes. As we work with the client we learn to listen to them. We let each process come to an end before moving on.

To experience listening to your own authentic self, spontaneous movements are explored. We listen to the client and let them lead the session.

As this division is about clarity of direction, to relate this to our self in life, we may see as a time where we can become stuck in a reach or a push for something and are not able to progress forward. We may be energetically frozen or caught in frustration because we cant see clearly.

As an example; Using a Tai Yang reach is a way for a Gall Bladder type to reach out of its containment. The reach represents asking for help which pulls one self out of a rut. But the reach and the push have to be coordinated in order for one to move forward. The motivation has to be from deep inside and the steps have to be small.

To help the reach, we worked with connecting awareness from joint to joint. To help with the push, we worked with alignment {bone touch} so they feel the power through their skeleton and giving a clearer idea to their body.

Shao Yang and Jue yin relate to our Emperor archetype. This division is about relating to others and truly meeting people. It involves learning how to act from your whole self. To justly meet someone, involves some kind of conflict. Within conflict you remain your self but some part of you has to give to really relate. This negotiation enables you to come up with an agreement. This relates to our muscular coordination. If two muscles aren’t working together and are moving in different directions, there is conflict. The muscles have to agree to move in the same direction and work together to function well.

To move from within is to have a sense of a strong core.

Tai Yang and Shao Yin are the main focus of Movement Shiatsu and the other divisions support them.

Perhaps this is why when Bill opened the group discussion, he asked ‘What are you really excited about?’. In context to what he had been saying, I said I was really willing and excited about being more spontaneous in my life. My conditioned nature and within my profession, everything is structured and controlled. I needed to loosen up and go with the flow more to get in touch with my primal energy.

In hindsight, what Bill was really asking was perhaps connected to the Warrior archetype:

‘ Are you being authentic to your self?’

‘What are you really passionate about?’

‘Are you moving in the direction from your whole self or because someone is telling you to?’

The Warrior is useful in relationships and communicating with the client.

What I liked about being with my group for long weekends was that everyone had a chance to say what they thought or felt. This gave us an opportunity to be listened to and to be heard. There were moments of confrontation which tested out warrior within. Bill said that you need courage for real communication. The warrior can be applied when we want to say something direct. The warrior has the ability to yield. to really listen without defending it self. This can be applied when listening to a client. We are able to contain our reactions to what’s being said and really listen.

Why practise spontaneity? Because the more in touch with my own spontaneity I am, the more I can listen to my inner self impulses. This enables me to be more present when working with a clients inner primal energy and release during a treatment.

Bill says that by practising spontaneous movement, we can learn to experience the primal impulses and not be afraid of them or see them as destructive. He says that spontaneous life energy is the essence of the Kidney function and is the source of our vitality. Our natural impulses are expressed freely as a child but as we grow up, they may be tamed or suppressed due to our up-bringing. Bill believes that accessing the primal energy hidden deep inside us is an infinite source of healing.

What I really liked about the course amongst many things was the physical experimental work. How the experience of a Physical exercise can be transferred and integrated into the practical body work. This made me aware of the quality of touch I was wanting to give.

At the end of our course, we had one final farewell, where we respected each part of our self by recognising with whom we hadn’t connected with within the group. Bravely we met the eyes of those and asked our self,’ which part of you don’t I like or haven’t connected with and why?’ and then understood that those aspects are perhaps the parts of our selves that we like to ignore. After such confrontation, we than strode off into the distance all noble and warrior like.