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somatic movement education: a form of meditation for the active life.

I started meditating with Zen during my training with IOKAI Shiatsu. The two ideograms forming the character “IO” come from an old Buddhist Sutra. “IO” means “the King of Medicine”: the One who understands the root of disease, knows how to cure it and gives his life to doing so, keeping sickness forever at bay. You could say this is a dream we can all share: to be happy, healthy and free from suffering!

The first thing I learned in the class was to sit quietly and accept the teaching. Imagine my surprise! We French people like to ask a lot of questions! I had entered the class a young, busy and emotionally driven Parisienne, and right away, I had to learn to sit silently. It was hard, because my mind and my ego were swirling, anything but quietly and calmly!

Soon I came to understand why IOKAI Shiatsu is also called Zen Shiatsu. As a Shiatsu practitioner and in any similar discipline, it is crucial to quieten the mind before you can help your client access the healing centre.

My training gave me a wonderful gift: an ability to witness my own body, to feel the restrictions and the interactions of the mind and to truly grasp how the two work together. I developed great tools to help me access my own balance and I learned what it means to free the mind and so free the body. When you really learn to meditate, you can a feel a settling, and a calming, as tensions dissipate and mind and body relax and integrate.

When an urgent or distressing situation arises, we will tend to disconnect from the body and focus only on our emotions, on our worries. We just use our bodies as the servants of our busy minds. Perhaps we do not perceive that our worries and tensions will store up in our muscles, in our very cells and if we don’t take steps to release it all, we could find ourselves physically uncomfortable, even in pain. It only makes sense that our experiences are stored in our bodies as well as our minds and just as freeing the mind can free the body, so relaxing and releasing the body will in turn free the mind again, in a ‘virtuous circle’.

After I engaged in the BodyMindMovement programme to become a Somatic Movement Educator, I met a Zen Soto Master, Rev. Issho Fujita in Japan, who also studied Somatic Movement Education. He said to me that he always started his sitting sessions with some embodiment and movement exercises to have his disciples settle in their bodies. I found that, yes, it is possible to free the body to quiet the mind and to develop tools that can help all the time.

You have probably experienced this feeling yourself when dancing or working out: a feeling of mental release that comes from “not trying” and perfectly letting go. In Yoga too, breathing during an asana tames the thoughts and stills the ego.

Hands-on practitioners know this feeling: when they are within their senses accompanying a patient, all unnecessary thoughts simply fade away. Far from feeling drained, the practitioner feels rejuvenated by giving the treatment!

There is no need to take a retreat from the world to begin meditation practice, as Shambala Buddhism points out.  We can do so throughout our daily lives, and we can begin by 5 minutes of practice a day.

In Somatic Movement Education we learn to give a voice to your body. It is a way of tuning into our body’s different layers by means of exercises such as:

  • stretching and breathing;
  • self-massage;
  • guided visualization and sounding;
  • movement exploration, imagery and experiencing the      anatomical structure.

We learn to access our body’s endorphins, keeping us free of pain and tension. And we delve deep into layers of body memory, like peeling an onion, to uncover and release years of stored tension, letting it go from body and mind at the same time. It is a great mental and physical spring-cleaning! You will be amazed at the clarity of mind, the relaxation of body, flowing movement and the integrated peace you will feel.

Come and meet with your very own self and be present and free! I am happy to share it with you and guarantee that you will make interesting discoveries for your-self!

It will happen in Hong Kong, this coming September and October!

For more information about the coming workshops  and registering, please visit :

Anne Cousin

European IOKAI Shiatsu practitioner and Registered Somatic Movement Educator



I deeply thank The Perfect English Company for its collaboration and help!

The Perfect English Company

English Tuition and editing

Hong Kong, (852) 9672 4941