The ancient tradition of Jin Shin Jyutsu is an art still to be discovered in the Western world.
Jin Shin Jyutsu® may not be a household name yet, but if we take a look back to 1979 when Jon Kabat-Zinn first brought mindfulness practices into the American mainstream, it wouldn’t be surprising if it started to increase in popularity.
Kabat-Zinn brought new ideas like awareness of breathing and yoga poses to a part of the world where conventional, pharmaceutical medicine was established as the norm. At the time, it was unheard of to use an active set of self-guided practices to assist in the healing process or simply improve mental well-being.
Since that time when Kabat-Zinn held weekly mindfulness sessions as a clinic at the University of Massachusetts, a lot has changed.
As of 2016, 36.7 million people practice yoga in the United States.
Since 2007, 750,000 students in the United States have been impacted by mindfulness education in school.
With numbers of mindfulness practices on the rise, Jin Shin Jyutsu may be the next biggest thing, especially considering Mary Burmeister was making waves before Kabat-Zinn even started teaching in the U.S.
The Little Woman Who Knew the Way
Despite the tradition being passed down by word of mouth for over 5,000 years in Japan, it wasn’t until the 1940s that Mary Burmeister, who was American-born of Japanese heritage was given the task (by her Japanese teacher, Jiro Murai, who reignited and wrote down the healing art) of passing on the physio-philosophy of Jin Shin Jyutsu to the United States. She returned from Japan to the United States in 1950, spent 10 years creating educational materials and started teaching in 1960. She knew from the outset that it wouldn’t be easy to explain.
On a purely visual level, Jin Shin Jyutsu looks similar to acupuncture, but the practitioner is using hands instead of needles and no pressure is applied whatsoever. This is done to help unblock energy pathways throughout the body. The person receiving the session is fully clothed and benefits from coming in with an open mind, although the treatment is effective regardless. Practitioners abide by the principle that blocked energy pathways negatively impact health. Their goal is to unblock those pathways through gentle touch.
But Jin Shin Jyutsu is more than a philosophy of the body. Mary Burmeister is quoted as saying: “I call it the art of life, the art of life itself. It is the whole cosmos and cannot be categorized.” This requires Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioners to educate their patients about self-care. Unblocking energy pathways requires a shift in lifestyle and mind-set. Yet Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioners say the practice is successful for everyone, regardless of mind-set.
The Life Path
Linda Chrystal has studied holistic medicine since 1980 and became a Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioner in 2002. She lost her mother in 1980 to a cancer that was promised to also kill both her and her sister by the age of 50. Chrystal knew her mother was going to extreme lengths to find complementary treatment. She would take grueling bus rides from San Diego to Mexico to smuggle natural treatments in her bra cup. The lack of options devastating their mother’s condition led Chrystal and her sister to do active research on holistic paths for healing.
Years later, during a tai chi class, a classmate noticed Chrystal looked sick, and it was true. Chrystal had been severely depressed and chronically ill for years. She said, “The only other woman who came to class noticed how sick I looked and said, ‘Let me show you what I do.’ I lay down on the floor and she gave me a soothing treatment that she called Jin Shin Jyutsu. I was so depleted that I noticed a huge shift the next day and asked her, ‘What on earth did you do?’ She said, ‘There are no words; I cannot explain it. You just need to take a class.’ In 1991, I was sitting in my first Jin Shin Jyutsu self-help class. There was no turning back!”
Chrystal’s 10 years of self-study before practicing on others led her to realize one of the best aspects was being able to perform the process on herself. She believed in the process because it had impacted her on such a personal level. She became a licensed massage therapist in order to legally practice Jin Shin Jyutsu. She knew she could help others help themselves.
“Jin Shin Jyutsu cannot hurt you. It can only help. It is gentle yet very powerful and life-changing: mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. With your own two hands as well as those of a practitioner, you can tap into the life force energy that is already within you. There is no trying. The hands become as jumper cables attaching to the battery of life and are simply placed on the body. Mary Burmeister taught us that we are human beings….not human tryings or human doings,” said Chrystal, who is now in her 15th year of practicing Jin Shin Jyutsu.
The Patient Perspective
Helen Rich is what conventional Western doctors called a medical miracle. She had a stroke, she went through breast cancer twice, and her leg broke in three places after a horrific car accident. Her ultimate recovery through all illness and injury started with regular Jin Shin Jyutsu sessions. When she didn’t have sessions with a practitioner, she used the self-guided principles herself. She was able to escape what was considered an inevitable surgery for her leg break and now has an immune system so strong that she doesn’t see cancer ever coming back into her body.
“Whatever you believe is very powerful. I believed Jin Shin Jyutsu would heal me,” Rich said. And she did heal. Rich realized that her illnesses were made worse by her energy pathways being blocked. “We are made of energy. Our bodies have an energy flow. Our energies get blocked by illness, stress, injury,” she explained. With regular Jin Shin Jyutsu sessions, Rich never had to undergo surgery for her broken leg, which left her doctor in shock.
Not Just for Humans
Because Jin Shin Jyutsu recognizes that every living being contains energy, the healing art has been performed on animals as well. Because animals exhibit less mental apprehension about trying new things, practitioners can more readily find blockages in their energy pathways.
Linda Chrystal had an especially profound experience with a rescue horse who was resistant to human interaction. With a short session of Jin Shin Jyutsu, the horse bowed before Chrystal as if to say thank you.
“There was no way I could stop the tears from streaming down my face, as I knew this JSJ session might have been the kindest moments in this horse’s life. They certainly were for me,” Chrystal said.
The Ultimate Benefit Is You
Jin Shin Jyutsu is about an experience. Like any other form of complementary healing that requires self-reflection, it is different for everyone. It is best learned through doing. It requires a disconnect from uncertainty or apprehension and asks the person experiencing the treatment to connect with themselves, to look inward. This will lead them to eventually find their own blockages, intuitively sourcing their own dis-ease and ultimately healing themselves.