Sei-ki at the ESC and ISCO 2020
This is a short introduction to Sei-ki and to Sei-ki workshops and to Surrenderwork
Sei-ki at the
European Shiatsu Congress (Amsterdam September 2020)
and the International Shiatsu Congress Online 2020
By Alice Whieldon
Sei-ki is in the Japanese Shiatsu tradition. It is the development of the Art of Touch in the work of Kishi Akinobu. Since his death in 2012 the flame has been kept alive by a few of his students including me, Alice Whieldon. This has been helped by the book we wrote together, Sei-ki: Life in Resonance, The Secret Art of Shiatsu (2011).
Sei-ki is learned through experience. I could fill your heads with lovely theory all day, but unless you feel, this will all be just fancy hot air. So we prioritize experience in workshops. Feeling informs us; theory gets in the way of seeing things as they are.
Most people attend Sei-ki workshops primarily for self-development. All around Europe, practitioners and teachers of Shiatsu speak of Kishi as a key influence, yet few practise Sei-ki themselves. This is partly because Sei-ki is regarded as mysterious or too difficult for ordinary mortals. But in fact being an ordinary mortal is the best qualification for the job. As we clean ourselves, we find that ordinary human touch and connection is deeply fulfilling; nothing special; nothing complicated. Getting back to ordinary is what we want and brings with it balance and a deep pleasure in life in all its beautiful normality. Sei-ki is sane-making. Yet its very simplicity makes it hard to see; too straightforward to be believed.
So a Sei-ki workshop focuses on developing sensitivity and feeling. People enjoy the workshops as an end in themselves and take a renewed sense of themselves into their lives, whether that be working in Shiatsu, Sei-ki or improved relationships and creativity. People find out through Sei-ki what their real desire is, their taste for life. And they go off and do that.
For a few, Sei-ki itself, the Art of Touch, is what they want to do professionally. For these, the training can take different shapes depending on the person. It is, in essence, a commitment to learning skill in touch and cleaning one’s vision to know when, how and where to touch. One grows into it, much the same as what happens when learning a martial art. By attending classes and practising over and over, we gradually deepen our experience and understanding arrives by itself.
There is also focused training on offer through workshops, supervision and tutorials. Community helps as it provides opportunities for practise and sharing that encourages us to keep going and remind us of the power of being seen in this way.
Learning Sei-ki takes courage. When you sit down beside a client, you can never know what will happen. If you already know, then from the start you are not really with them. Being open to how it really is for this person puts you always in the place of beginner or explorer with just a small torch to find your way in the dark woods. We do not have the comfort of diagnosis and plans for treatment; we are out there on the frontier. Sei-ki is the extreme sport of therapy! If you like life wild and real, perhaps it is for you.
So there is not much to say about Sei-ki at the ESC back in September that is not true of any Sei-ki workshop; it was a great experience. It was a joy to see old friends and work with new groups. Many newcomers loved the approach, some found it a little bewildering. Gill Hall, friend, Sei-ki presenter and Shiatsu teacher from Spain, assisted me at both workshops. It was lovely to share with her and for us to share our love of the work with groups. I am ever humbled by the willingness of people to drop their ideas of what it is and try it out. By their openness to feeling and the new. I am grateful for the opportunity to share this in the City of Amsterdam and for the kindness and dedication of the team headed by Betty Kroll.
During the International Shiatsu Congress Online, I was in Heidelberg, at Rene Fix’s Ki College, presenting a Sei-ki workshop. So we live-streamed our presentation from there in the middle of our event. It was great to welcome the world into our room and see lots of familiar names in the chat, as well as many new ones.
Lately we have been focusing on surrender and will be launching our new Surrenderwork website in the New Year. So, with this theme in mind, we offered a taste of surrender with a short exercise followed by a Sei-ki demonstration.
Surrender is key to Sei-ki and valuable self-development, particularly if you work with clients in any therapeutic setting. Surrender is non-doing; non-doing is working with focus but without agenda, open to how things are in this moment.
Surrenderwork is framed with simple exercises to prepare ourselves to let go. But letting go is not usually simple to ‘do’. This is because most of our conscious lives are about ‘doing’ something. So to really not-do is incomprehensible in our usual way of thinking. It requires a different kind of knowing and learning.
Learning to surrender is a little like learning to go to sleep. We cannot actually learn how to sleep, we just do it naturally, but not by conscious choice. In truth, we are all surrendered anyway, but for most people this is not in our conscious awareness. So, like trying to sleep, we can set up the best circumstances for surrender and then let nature take over.
When we surrender, initially what happens for most people is that mind/body tensions that have been unexpressed begin to come to the surface. Sometimes this is unpleasant, but over time this clears and we gradually experience another kind of ‘happening’. Something new comes into the spaces that have opened up and we discover that we do not have to ‘do’ so much in order to make things happen; they happen anyway. Thus, the art of Sei-ki becomes clearer and we become more spacious, useful practitioners in any field. We are more in life; more alive, more aware.
Check out the live demonstration: