Nicola Ley discovered Shiatsu when she lived in Tokyo, when she returned to England she continued her studies with Carola Beresford-Cooke.
 She was introduced at the work of Pauline Sasaki and now specializes in Multi-dimensional Shiatsu. She studied Tai Chi and Qigong.
Nicola is also an artist and makes work about the energy of Shiatsu and Qigong. She loves to make ‘energy portraits’, which are often a watercolour of a person’s energy on an etching of the central channels. Since completing an MA in art she has worked on this theme in her studio and is also returning to her old love of botanical work.

Text: Adeline Kuiken  |  Photo: Skitterphoto

What brought you to Shiatsu and Qigong?

I’m one of those people who originally thought Shiatsu was a martial art! I stumbled into my first Shiatsu class with an American friend in Tokyo, where we made a date to go to the class while drinking in a sushi bar. I soon learnt it wasn’t a martial art and we were taught Shiatsu by one of Masunaga’s students. That was in the late 1970s and I’ve done Shiatsu ever since. My friend, Kathy, gave up after a couple of weeks but we stayed friends and continued to drink in the sushi bar!

What does Shiatsu / energy work mean to you now, what purpose does it serve you as an individual? 

Around the start of this millennium I got severe burnout. I had been working way too hard – as a single mum with a hefty mortgage to pay. My healing from that burnout started with learning a new style of Qigong with Dominic Hill, who got me to enjoy the Qi of the practice and use it for my own healing. Also around that time I started to work with Pauline Sasaki on her new approach to Shiatsu. In Europe they call it multi-dimensional Shiatsu, Pauline herself called it Quantum Shiatsu but I was always uncomfortable with that name (as it really wasn’t connected to quantum physics) so I prefer the term multi-dimensional Shiatsu.

The new Qigong and Pauline’s late work came together for me, as they both used the same energetic anatomy and I started to see this more and more clearly. My work really changed then, or rather it was still the same but it was as if I had been given the latest ‘updates’. I could ‘see’ the Qi and I learnt to access the Qi of Heaven and Earth that is continuously flowing through the central channels! I could see it wasn’t me doing the work – I was just a catalyst. That gave me a chance to recover my own health and is the approach that still underpins my work. 

What do you mean by the term ‘energetic anatomy’?

The energetic anatomy is the anatomy of our energy body. It starts with our physical body such as our bones. In our physical body we already have a lot of energy moving, our lungs move with our breath, our heart beats. From there we can move in to our energy body which can only be looked at within time. We might feel strong and have a strong energy body or we might be sick and have a weaker energy body. Our physical anatomy is roughly the same, but our energy body might be very different.
We might then use the meridians as a bridge from the physical body into the esoteric body which includes our emotional body and actually all of our Ki. And if we want to take it further we can tune into our Shen body. The Shen can go anywhere. It is not limited by time and place.

Can you explain the multi-dimensional Shiatsu or Quantum Shiatsu from Pauline Sasaki a bit more?

Yes! If we take the example of a candle, the candle itself would be our physical body. The flame would be our ether body, the warmth and the light of all our Ki. The actual light is like the Shen body. The circle around the candle flame, who knows how far this light can go?
Pauline could see there was a rainbow there. She took the leap from 3 dimensional to multi-dimensional. It’s like Eckhart Tolle’s infinite now. It’s the potential to have your best energy, open and connected and with access to the unlimited Ki of the Universe. This is how we move between the physical body, the ether body and the Shen body. Let the meridians and all the cells in our body vibrate the light. Not just let the candle burn.

What is the purpose of your ‘healing’ practise as a teacher and as a therapist?

I believe the healer’s role is to empower the client or student – it is to be a catalyst and enable them to connect to the Qi of the universe! 
To paraphrase the Tao Te Ching:

In the beginning is the Tao – the everything and the nothing
From the Tao comes the two – the Yin and the Yang
From the two come the three – the friction that creates the ten thousand things – or even all life.

If you look at the Yin and Yang symbol, the line that is in between the black Yin and the white Yang, is called the Chong Chi. This is like the Chong Mai in people. Our channels are the place where the energy of Heaven mixes with the energy of Earth.

What significant lessons did one of your teachers teach you?

The most important lesson is that healing doesn’t occur because of anything I do. I learned that I am a catalyst and a witness and that it’s up to the client and their interaction with the Qi as to what happens next. I think I really ‘got’ that when I started to trust the ‘Non Physical Beings’ (NPBs) – which is what Pauline called energetic entities. I did a workshop with her in Connecticut on NPBs and learnt how to trust my interaction with the ‘angels’ who would often come and direct my work.  

With the insight you have now what, if anything, do you wish you had known at the beginning of your journey?

Not to take it too seriously – then I probably wouldn’t have got burn out. To welcome connections with other modalities – I think that’s what the Lightbody or Multidimensional work brings to Shiatsu. That is a chance to use all the Lightbody work out there – Chakras and Tan Dien, Qi fields and meridian functions, the spiritual level and Shen work, Sacred Geometry, DNA recovery and anything else that works!

As a teacher, if I were starting now, I would definitely teach the Central Channels before any of the other meridians. The central channels give us our connection to the Cosmic Qi, the Qi of Heaven and Earth, and this fundamentally underlies all healing – letting the client connect to the abundance of cosmic Qi.

What advice might you give to student practitioners training now?  

I would suggest becoming a healer with a broad brush. I believe Shiatsu offers a great model to connect with someone’s energetic anatomy, but I don’t think it offers the way, just a way to connect. I think many of the people coming through now do this naturally as they study different modalities and find their own way to work with energy.

What is the next step or stage for you? What are you working on developing professionally, or personally?  

For the last few years I’ve been involved in the ‘Sophia Wisdom Project’. This is a creative enquiry into the nature of Sophia – in some translations of the bible she is the wife of God and in some the Holy Spirit. For me she is the re-awakening of the Divine Feminine in the world.

I’ve held rituals for the quarter days, the solstices and the equinoxes for thirty years or more. This is another way of contacting the energy of the universe and helping people become congruent with it – just like doing a treatment.

Another area I am moving towards is being a celebrant. I’ve officiated at three weddings and two funerals and done a few exorcisms. It seems to be a good cross between teaching and doing a treatment for a group.

How do you see Positive Health?

Positive Health is about a healthy heart, body and soul. It’s something you ‘have’. We’re all just beings and we’re all going to die. Positive Health is not about just being alive. It’s about living all of our life to its full!

A last take away message?

We’re in a difficult time, I really hope I get to see you in September, or soon after when we meet. Until that time, do whatever practice you can do on your own! Allow your light to shine. I really believe that after this time your lights are going to be more valuable. We all can be candles and shine out into the world. This is more valuable than any object that you might possess. Let your candle shine bright and far.


Curious about Nicola Ley (Pooley)? Visit her workshop The role of the central channels in positive health at the ESC 2020

You can also check her homepage: artofshiatsu.wordpress.com