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In Search Of The Root

Updated: Jul 12, 2023


Sky, mountains, lake

It is not always the obvious discomfort that shows where the problem starts and ends.

Where we feel it physically, it could be a manifestation of something emotional or an environmental pathogen. Take, for example, how the climate can interact with the body.

You may have heard someone say, "I can tell when it's going to rain; my joints hurt", or "I only get cluster headaches in a particular season" or "my skin gets red, itchy blotches when it's hot or cold weather". Here we can see how the atmosphere has a direct connection with our bodies.

What about closer to home? Our emotions and our minds can affect our bodies.

Some people can have the sensation of insects crawling on their necks just from someone talking about insects or watching them on a screen; this would be called 'psychosomatic'.

We have the ability to produce ulcers and cold sores when stressed, or there is a change in our body temperature when something embarrassing happens. Here we are experiencing the psychological part of us, which affects the physical. This is why the concept of the seven emotions is taken into consideration in the majority of treatments. The seven emotions are: Anger, Elation, Worry, Grief/Sadness and Fear/Fright. I will be writing more about the seven emotions for this blog in the near future.

Each of these emotions can be damaging to our system; they could be the root of the main complaint. Attending to the root as well as the branch could facilitate a deeper change.

As well as these two examples, of the environment and the psychological connection to our bodies, the East Asian concept of interaction, spans out even further, with examples of change, affecting change affecting change.


Wu Ji, Universal Qi, Celestial Qi, Heaven and Earth Qi, and Human Qi I will explain in short, without going into the concept of Qi, which can be a topic on its own.

  • Wu Ji: The infinite void

  • Universal Qi: The energy that is so vast that it envelopes and effects Celestial Qi

  • Celestial Qi: The movement of the solar systems, planets, and gravitational pulls and pushes affecting Heaven and Earth

  • Heaven and Earth Qi: How the stars, weather, and organic life have their own influence on us

  • Us: We are affected by all of this and we affect all things.

We must reckon that what men know is not so much as what they do not know, and that the time since they were born is not so long as that which elapsed before they were born. When they take that which is most small and try to fill with it the dimensions of what is most great, this leads to error and confusion, and they cannot attain their end.Looking at the subject in this way, how can you know that the point of a hair is sufficient to determine the minuteness of what is most small, or that heaven and earth are sufficient to complete the dimensions of what is most large?" - Flood of Autumn by Zhuangzi - Translated by James Legge

This is why in Zen Shiatsu and TCM, there is a search for the root, the possible imbalance that underpins the main complaint, whether physical, emotional, or psychological.

It is not always in plain view. Masunaga's term for that subtle influence in Zen Shiatsu therapy is Kyo. For example, on the day of a treatment, the main issue might be back pain or a digestive issue; this will be the focus of the treatment as well as the Kyo.

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