Alice Whieldon (UK)
Alice combines a background in philosophy and theology with the practical arts of Shiatsu (Seiki) and Mind Clearing. Bringing these disciplines together she asks what practical therapy looks like from a coherent philosophical base grounded in experience.
Video 2017: Lecture statement
Sei-ki: the Secret Art of Shiatsu
Sei-ki is the flowering of Japanese Shiatsu. Kishi Akinobu trained first with Namikoshi then became Masunaga’s senior student, travelling with him and demonstrating for him in a close relationship for many years. Having already taught Shiatsu internationally for a decade, in 1980 he had a profound realisation which fundamentally changed his work. In line with practitioners of the Japanese arts, Kishi broke from his teacher, changed his name and stopped calling what he did, Shiatsu, eventually naming it Sei-ki Soho to differentiate his way from that of his teachers.
Sei-ki is not medical, but an art in the manner of the traditional Japanese arts such as Tea Ceremony and Ikebana. At the end point of diagnosis comes the recognition that there is, in fact, nothing to do, no changes to make, no healing to be performed. This transforms the way of touch into an act of seeing, appreciation and service in the bodhisattva tradition. As such, it is medicine in a much broader sense than the model of sickness and cure, questioning the idea of sickness and health as positive or negative. Rather we recognise that life is marvellous and incomprehensible and step away from treatment into the bigger art of becoming ourselves. Illness drops away and we find we can breathe again.
Sei-ki is a difficult path. It is a way of life demanding both discipline and passionate abandon to the pursuit of reality. Rather than learning techniques, the Sei-ki practitioner must empty themselves of pre-conceptions and see with fresh eyes, staying always in the dynamic tension of diagnosis, never narrowing touch into reductive treatment.
Kishi was a master of his art and his influence in European Shiatsu has been enormous. However, although thousands attended his workshops and acknowledged his genius, few felt able to practice Sei-ki explicitly. Alice Whieldon worked closely with him and co-wrote Sei-ki: Life in Resonance, the Secret Art of Shiatsu 2011. Her role was, then and now, to understand and contextualise Sei-ki, making it accessible to a wider audience.