Text: Betty Croll

Dear all,

I’m moved to tears seeing you all in this venue. I can hardly believe that we are all here and that the 6th ESC 2020 is a fact.

I have very mixed feelings. On the one hand, I am so very happy and relieved to see you all. I am also happy in the knowledge that there are so many of you in the other venues as well.

At the same time, my heart is heavy: for those who would have loved to come, but couldn’t, because of Covid 19.
Know that we are with you wherever you are at this moment. I do hope that the live stream will allow you to experience a little bit of the atmosphere of the congress. And that it will be, for you, as it is for us, a unique couple of days.

Before embarking on my speech, and have my few minutes of fame, I would like to thank a number people. People without whom this event could not have been organized.
Firstly, I want to thank Yvonne van Remmen and Alex Hoekema for bringing the ESC to Amsterdam.

I would also like to thank all our volunteers who have been working behind the scenes in the past months. And also our 70 volunteers, who are helping us during the conference: helping participants get registered, asking you about your health, helping out during workshops, making sure shiatsu mats are at the right place at the right time, cleaning up, filming and much, much more. They are doing such a great job. Thank you so much. Please give them a big applause
I hope we can in time return the favour.

And thank you to all our spouses, children, partners, who, in the past months, have had to deal with us: people who couldn’t talk about anything else than this congress. So, thank you for your patience, your space and sympathetic ears.

But most of all, my thanks go to you our visitors and our trainers who travelled through all the coloured zones of Europe to come here.

Our teachers/trainers, who are here talking, teaching, and sharing their experience and knowledge with us. All of you come from different countries, different Shiatsu schools and each brings with you your valuable and unique approach. By being here, you underline the importance of being together and learning from each other. Thank you so much for coming and in doing so, supporting this event.

Positive Health, the theme for ESC 2020, has turned out to be more relevant than ever before.
The term ‘positive health’ is derived from the now prevailing, new concept of health. It stands for a broad view on health, in which health is no longer considered as a static condition, but rather as the dynamic ability to adapt and to self-manage one’s own well-being: in response to the physical, emotional and social challenges of life.
By shifting the emphasis to resilience and well-being (rather than bad health or illness), this new health concept radically changes the conservative way of thinking about health care and disease prevention. In the new definition of Health, Shiatsu is integrated in the whole array of therapies.

By choosing this theme, it was our aim to build a bridge between western- and complementary healthcare. We hoped to be able to invite physicians and specialists to this congress and show them what Shiatsu is, and what it can do in favour of this new health concept.

However, Covid 19 changed all these plans.

Who could ever have imagined that the Positive Health theme would be such an urgent theme?

Whereas quite a large group of world leaders and influential individuals have their focus on finding a vaccine, this is just one side of the story. The other side is the way people are able to cope with Covid. How can they live with the challenges that life during Covid brings with it: physical, mental and spiritual challenges….? After Covid 19, there will be 20 and 21 and so many other illnesses.
How can people improve their resilience?
How can they lead a meaningful life, make contacts, be part of a network?
This is why Positive Health really makes sense and it’s here that Shiatsu can play a significant role.

The focus of Shiatsu is to become aware of your body, to become aware of the difference between your inner and outer world.
It emphasizes that we are part of a bigger picture, in which everyone is related to everyone and everything.

If Covid shows us one thing, then it is that we are all connected. And that we should realize, that in this connection lies our purpose. To be connected to oneself, to our fellow human beings and to our environment.

Against all odds, we have managed to come together. We have worked so hard to make this happen. With you, coming from so many countries and cultures. We want to meet, to exchange and to learn from each other. And most of all, we want and need to be together. In a time and landscape where divide and conquer, distance and fear are propagated, meeting each other and connecting in the way that we are doing today, is a powerful force for the good. Finding the connection is, I believe, the anti-dote to fear and division.

Personally, to make contact is my quest in life. To make contact with oneself, with one another, and the world around you. This mutual relationship is essential for life. Because without contact, there is no life. Without contact with your inner self, life is devoid of meaning. It is this inner contact that helps each one of us to move in the direction which is meant to be.

For me, this is the essence of Shiatsu.

Shiatsu is not simply a therapy that solves problems. By incorporating connecting with oneself and the other during the treatment, I see and feel patients experience a change.
Awareness of this inner contact and living it, allows things to come together. In this field of contact, which is rather a state of being than a choice, everything is understood in the true meaning. I think that is love.

Finally, I would like to sing a song. What comes more from the heart than a song. Before I do so, I have to tell you, but you will hear it anyway, I am not a professional, not even an amateur. Nevertheless, I want to sing for you, for all those who cannot be here, for the volunteers, for my family and, last but not least, for my team: Bart, Karlijn and Daphne.
The song is that of a very well-known Dutch singer, who passed away some years ago. The title is: ‘We zullen doorgaan’ meaning: we shall continue, until we are together. The well-known Dutch singer is Ramses Shaffy.

For me, the meaning of the song goes far beyond just the longing of meeting each other in person. Longing for someone has more to do with finding your own inner self, and living your heart. It is about being together in oneself, simultaneously with the inner and outer world.
And it is also one of the meanings of life, which is that we will continue to try and find ways in connecting with each other.

Wishing you all an enjoyable congress, and above all a congress that connects.

We shall go on

We shall go on
With the momentum
of the mild power
To go on
In a speechless night
We shall go on
We shall go on
Until we’re together

We shall go on
With the staggering security
To go on
In an immense time
We shall go on
We shall go on
Until we’re together

We shall go on
With the sweat on our face
To just go on
In a trench without light
We shall go on
We shall go on
Until we’re together

We shall go on
Every time we stand still
To go on again
Naked in the hurricane
We shall go on
We shall go on
Until we’re together