Taster Treatments: Why 15 Minutes Is Enough

Every year hundreds of people sit on little wooden stools at The Vitality Show and Mind Body Spirit in London, expecting a minor miracle. Putting down their shopping bags, they sit down for relaxation, peace and pain relief. In the midst of the bustle of a big exhibition, a 15 minute Shiatsu treatment may seem like wasted time. However it is here, in the vast cavity of Earls Court, under the strip lighting and among the crowds, that many choose to have their first experience of the art of gentle healing.

Traditional Shiatsu, with a full consultation and a treatment on the floor mat, usually takes at least an hour. So how can a quarter of that time be enough to effectively treat a person? And how could anyone enter a meditative state at a big exhibition, with so many distractions? It’s simple: Shiatsu is more than just ‘finger-pressure’. There is a kind of friendly magic that happens when someone sits down willing to receive Shiatsu from someone who is happy to give.

In my first year of training with the Zen School of Shiatsu I joined them at The Vitality Show 2006. We were exchanging 15 minute treatments for £10, and there were people queuing up. This was my first time giving such short treatments to new people. Despite my nerves, putting Shiatsu principles into practice resulted in some very relaxed minds and bodies in a matter of minutes. I grew more confident and more creative. During a brief lull I received Shiatsu from a fellow student so the people walking past could see Shiatsu in action.

I felt the warmth of his hands even before the first gentle contact. For a few seconds I felt conspicuous. I was aware of the flow of human traffic, a waft of perfume or incense. Snatches of conversation came and went, and I closed my eyes. As the pressure on my shoulders increased the treatment worked its way deeper. My breathing slowed. Tensions, physical and mental, ebbed away as I drifted in Shiatsu-space, where time is replaced by touch.

Since that first exhibition I have understood why taster treatments at festivals are so popular, despite the hectic environment. Fifteen minutes, £10, is not much to risk to try something new. Meeting a practitioner at a festival allows people to ask questions without committing to a treatment. This brief opportunity can inspire someone to seek treatment for their discomfort instead of enduring unnecessary pain. Fifteen minutes are enough to remind someone how great they can feel, and motivate them to keep treating themselves well.

Giving short seated treatments at exhibitions, festivals, and in offices, has become an essential part of my Shiatsu practice. I also join the Zen School of Shiatsu every year at The Vitality Show, Mind Body Spirit and Mind Body Soul, the UK’s biggest holistic exhibitions. I always hope to exchange treatments with new students. Some of them will be putting theory into practice in front of the crowds for the first time. Within a few minutes the limitations of exhibition time and space lead them to true innovation in the art of relaxation. It’s a joy to watch, but much better to feel.

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