What is the Hara?
The Hara the center of your life energy, physical center of the body, the essence of the person. The Hara is located in your abodomen, the soft area between the bones of your ribcage and hipbones, sternum and pubis.
Advanced Zen Shiatsu practitioners use information obtained from palpating your Hara before they begin working on your meridians. The Hara tells us how your life force is doing. The Hara tells us the truth, and as the practitioner I must approach it with honesty and reverence, with my own Hara open and available for the information to be clearly understood. I must remain non-judgmental, compassionate and understanding.
Some therapies treat only the Hara for whatever ailment the person may have, many interpretations of the Hara area in both treatment and diagnosis. Zen Shiatsu practitioners use the Hara to assess the condition of the twelve meridians (differentiated life energy that supports various necessary life functions on physical and metaphysical levels) and their effect on the person in order to decide upon a specific approach to treatment
The goal of Hara Assessment is:
- To recognize a pattern of imbalance in the body's life energy (Ki)
- To assess the condition and relationship of the meridians and create a specific intervention in order to move the body's Ki in a direction that has the most potential to create a balanced, harmonious environment for healing to occur.
- The Zen Shiatsu practioner assesses the Hara from the perspective of a relationship called Kyo-Jitsu, and seeks a specific reaction from the hara itself in order to determine the appropriate meridians to work on during a treatment session.
What is Kyo-Jitsu?
- Remember these things: imbalance does not necessarily equal pathology and don't get hooked on a linear idea of causality, it's all energy and we're not calling any of it bad!
- Kyo and Jitsu are the word we use to describe qualities of the body's life force aspects appearing to us in a dynamic relationship, trying to create balance together. This is usually described as imbalance, yet to be frank life itself is a constant state of being more or less out of balance at all times. Health might be described as our ability to continually adjust our own body's different life aspects in order to maintain (the illusion of) balance, and disease as the inability to do so: we become stuck in an energetic rut and illness may occur. Kyo-Jitsu occurring together may be thought of as an anti pathogenic response by the body (mind & spirit included).
Kyo = Need (obscure, hidden) Jitsu = Response, fill the need (Symptom, obvious)
- In Zen Shiatsu, rather than get caught up in the Jitsu (kind of like listening to a drama queen) and treating symptoms, we look for this relationship in order to help the body resolve the Kyo, and thus eliminate the necessity for the Jitsu's presence.
For example: a person with poor boundaries might tend to overwork through taking on too much, not knowing their own limits. This is already Kyo in a way. Over time they become weaker and weaker and the body (mind & spirit included) naturally attempts to protect itself. A cold or a back spasm could provide the rest that the person needs in order to become well, although it won't really do anything for the boundary issue unless the person is ready to address it. People will tend to feel the effects of the Jitsu in their life (notice the Symptom) but don't often acknowledge the Kyo origin. Treating the Symptom alone tends to reinforce the cycle and perpetuate the imbalance.
The origin or the Kyo can be constitutional weakness, lifestyle (overwork, exhaustion), emotional state, illness, even structure. Our intervention in Zen Shiatsu is to seek out the Kyo and Jitsu aspects in the life energy through Hara DX and then address it through the meridians.
The chart on this page is the work of the late Shizuto Masunaga, who developed his work into what became known as Zen Shiatsu in the 1970's.