How I met the Wiener Schnitzel girl @the European Shiatsu Congress

Picture a huge conference room. A classic ambience with a wooden floor and 100 mats on it. On the mats are the participants of the European Shiatsu Congress. There is a man dressed in white at the front. Beside him sits a woman on a chair. I cannot see her face but her body posture suggests she is not the happiest human in the world. He asks her: “What do you feel?” She answers: “Sadness. Loneliness. Being unconnected”.

She is the demo-receiver of Peter Itin in his workshop ‘Language guides the Qi’. Earlier she has rated her ‘overall life index’ as a ‘5’ and volunteered for this public treatment. I was surprised that there was anyone in the room with such a low self-rating. If I felt like a ‘5’ I would be hiding somewhere under the carpet. Out of sight of public life. This woman must be very courageous. Or desperate.

Impulses to the body

Peter Itin asks: “Where do you feel this the most in your body?”
She: “In my back and in my chest” and tears roll down.
By naming the body parts where her feelings reside, her inside self seems to come out.
There is a deep and tense silence.
Her head is bent forward. Sorrow is written all over her body.
– “How do you feel now?”
– “I feel safe in my own small world. I don’t have the power to rise.” She says in a quiet voice.
He stands up, walks behind her and puts his hand on her shoulders. Moves them a bit more dynamic over her upper back.
A few moments pass.
“I can breathe better,” she says.
Then she got onto the massage table. Face facing earth. He put his hand on her sacrum. Tells the public that he is not doing a back diagnosis. Just gives some impulses to the body.


Peter does the talking. About the 3 meridian families, he mostly works with:Earth-Metal, Fire-Water and Small Fire-Wood. The themes from these meridians form the basic questions to be answered in life: Who am I? What do I really want? What is my role in life? The first question is addressed by the Earth-element, the nourishing, by parents, by food. The second is to be answered from the Heart, the Shen, the emperor. In traumatic circumstances, the Shen becomes separated from its source of origin, the Kidney Qi. The third question is addressed by the Small Intestine and its role of integrating challenging life circumstances. Shining light into dark places.

Perfection is boring

“You are safe”

He asks her where she wants to be touched. She tells him the place. By putting his hand on the desired spot, he is guiding the Qi. “Your presence is for 50% to yourself, for 50% with your client. Or better: for 100% to yourself and with your client. During the treatment, you are constantly talking with the client. With words in your head. It is an inner dialogue.” With the Heart meridian of his lower arm, he leans in on the Heart-zone of her back. His aim is to let her experience a route back to answers of those basic questions: “You are welcome as you are. You don’t have to change. This current state is temporary. Your base is safe. You are safe.”

As my own life-index glitters at an 8 (being naive has its advantages), I cannot make up and say: ‘you will find the right spot’.

Little voice

It was nice witnessing this process. But there was a little voice inside me asking: “What makes Peter Itin so special that he is on stage? What distinguishes him from other experienced shiatsu practitioners?” And I couldn’t put my finger on it. Other participants seemed to have heard that same voice because they left the course room. It felt a bit ungrateful and disrespectful to leave in sight of the speaker. But who am I to judge?

Big wow

Those who left didn’t hear how the treatment worked out for the sad women. She said: “I am so happy with the present of doing this work”. This work, of course, being shiatsu. That was a big wow for me. From internal sadness (level 5, remember) to external thankfulness. And in the same sentence profiling the profession of shiatsu as a therapy. As something that helps. This was magic! Or am I just being naive?

The right spot

At the end of the workshop, there was time to practice ’the Itin-method’ on each other. As I came alone, I had to find a shiatsu partner and am invited by the lovely girl beside me. We made some space on the mat. She offers to start the exchange, which was unusual because, at most workshops, people usually wanted to receive first. Being paid in advance! Or more positive: they need some Qi-stimulation before they can perform. The lovely girl asks me the Itin-question: “Where do you want to be touched?” As my own life-index glitters at an 8 (being naive has its advantages), I cannot make up and say: ‘you will find the right spot’. She laughs and starts somewhere on my back. It feels heavenly. The best shiatsu treatment for months. I did not say a word. Our connecting Qi did the talking.

I visited the European Shiatsu Congress in Vienna and write a sequence of 4 blogs about it. This is number 1. It was revised by Tamsin Grainger and Mirabelle Jansen.

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