I initially trained as a dancer and this involved many years of studying into how my and other people’s bodies work: how they can get injured and then learn to be healthy again; how they are able to express creativity and feelings; and how to understand what is happening in the human system. It turns out that this was a great preliminary to my Shiatsu training!
I have worked consistently as a practitioner since I graduated from The Glasgow School in 1992. I started teaching beginner’s courses right away, and set up The Shiatsu School Edinburgh (with 2 colleagues) in 2000. I have focused on Shiatsu and I have also been a parent to my daughters for the same 28 years I have been working one-to-one with clients. Happily, Shiatsu still fascinates me. I continue to be intrigued by the link between the body and the mind, and between ill health and the spirit or soul. My life is enriched on many levels by my work with clients, students and post graduates.
To be a good parent I have needed flexibility, listening, constant self-development, patience and lots of energy. My children have taught me to balance ideals with practicality; my aims with theirs; and to play. Working with other parents and young ones, I have further developed my skills of observation and understood that life moves in cycles, and we can all take apparently backward as well as forward steps at times.
I am lucky that I have maintained my health. I take it seriously and have practiced Chi Gung, yoga, T’ai Chi, and meditation for many years which has helped me continue my understanding of the body and mind – it’s astonishing what regular sessions can do! I have learned to be stiller, to listen better, to find my central core and to move smoothly. I have discovered that I can do less, remain in touch, and allow the process to unravel, and I am constantly looking for that balance between Yin and Yang: between being grounded and reliable; as well as light and trusting in the Tao.
I have worked with some amazing teachers. The techniques and approaches they shared have stayed with me and inform my work now: Elaine Liechti; Nicola Ley (Pooley); Daverick Leggett; Cliff Andrews; Bill Palmer; Chris Jarmey; and Suzanne Yates; Authors which I have been inspired by include Carola Beresford-Cooke and Veet Allen; Shizuto Masunaga; Maciocia; Alice Whieldon; Nick Pole; and Elizabeth Rochat de la Vallee. Chinese herbal treatments and talks and tutorials with Mark Wright were invaluable.
The Shiatsu I have received, the actual experience of feeling Shiatsu and how it effects my whole self, is central to the way I am. You could say that it was my initial sessions with Sandra Reeve in Bristol that started me off: I discovered that Shiatsu was so powerful that it could help me deal with a serious problem that Western medicine could not solve. Other practitioners who have helped are: Joanna Legard (Cranio-sacral therapist) and the wisdom of Kathy Lloyd, Pat Black and Kate McGarry (psychotherapy).
Whilst not following a specific religion or named spiritual practice, I have been influenced by Taoist and Buddhist beliefs for many years. I sit in daily meditation, aiming for mindfulness, and these practices support me in my understanding of my place in the community and in contemplation of the deeper aspects of our being.
My key beliefs are that the client is the healer, and that if the Chi (what we are made of) is moving then we are on the right track. I aim to work with kindness and clear boundaries. I set up an environment in which I hope you will be reassured of the professionalism and safety of my work, where you can tell me about yourself in confidence and privacy, and I hope you will feel warm and nurtured. We all have complex internal lives, and it can be a relief to tell someone, or to sense that a practitioner knows and understands some of what you are going through.
Recently I have started travelling – teaching Shiatsu internationally and walking. I have been lucky enough to teach about how I work with babies and children in Switzerland (European Shiatsu Congress); Zen Shiatsu and specifically maternity Shiatsu in Paris; about ME, MS, cancer and IBS in Norway; and about Shiatsu and death in London, Paris and Athens.
I have written a number of articles about Shiatsu which have been published in the Shiatsu Society Journal. I also have a blog here. My new book Death and Loss in Shiatsu Practice: A guide to bodywork in palliative care will be published on 21 August 2020 by Singing Dragon Press (Hachette).
My walking has taken the form of spiritual pilgrimages in Spain (Caminos Frances and Via de laPlata), Austria (Via Sacra), Orkney (the St Magnus Way) and elsewhere. My travel blog