My wife, Jo, is, amongst other things, a Shiatsu practitioner. For those who do not know, Shiatsu is a form of holistic healing that uses the application of pressure along the meridians (much like acupuncture but without the needles). As I understand it, Shiatsu works by encouraging energy to flow around the body freely which in turn enables the body to heal itself, keep itself well.
That is a very simplistic description of a most sophisticated practice. Shiatsu interests me because, unlike Western medicine, it works on physical, emotional and spiritual levels at the same time. It aims to achieve a sense of balance in the body on all those levels. Recognising that they are always entwined, linked to each other.
Today, Jo gave me a treatment. My experience has been that these treatments have powerful effects. Often, the next day, I am wiped out, totally exhausted. But, in the days that follow, I feel a greatly enhanced sense of energy and well being. I feel more connected physically. My Parkinson’s frequently has the effect of making me feel that my mind and my body are disconnected. It is a feeling as if your body is a ghost that you cannot quite touch. As if your body is not yours. The Shiatsu seems to help a lot with this. As does the tai chi. And although the symptom is primarily felt physically, it has an emotional and spiritual impact too. I wake up and I feel out of balance. Not able to focus or concentrate my thoughts. They are all over the place. Which can be frustrating and depressing. I need the tai chi on a daily basis, and the Shiatsu weekly, to help me regain my balance. Losing my physical sense of balance was one of the early signs that I had Parkinson’s. But we can work on our balance. Improve it. Nowadays it is probably better than it ever was.
So, what has this got to do with Christmas/Yule? Well, I see this as a time of the year in which we have the opportunity to restore balance. I count myself as lucky as, since retiring, I have plenty of time to look inward, think about balance and do what I need to do in order to achieve some. For most people in work, life nowadays is lived at such a frantic pace that there is little time or opportunity to step back, take a moment and breath. Certainly, in my former life as a secondary school teacher, I lurched from one term to another, always exhausted, always desperate for the holidays in order to recharge. Our working lives are so outward looking. So fixated on targets, deadlines, outcomes and results that we are starved of the chances to look inward. Starved of the opportunities to care for ourselves – not only physically but in terms of intellect, emotions and spirit too.
So, when we do have a holiday, it is important that we allow ourselves time to look inward. Especially in Winter – the time of the year for recharging, taking stock. Just look around at the Natural world – that is what you will see happening. Nature is slowing down, storing energy, getting ready for Spring. Yes,ok, the outward part of Christmas is fun. The parties, the feasting, the socialising, the whole communal aspect. But don’t over do it. Try to put aside time for yourself. Look inward. Find your balance.