Yuki – Touch Healing – Touch Play

 In the Far East there is a concept concerning human energy or life force which they call Ki. In China it is called Chi, as in Tai Chi. Haruchika Noguchi was the founder of Sei Tai a Japanese method of healing movement. He describes Ki as the force behind the form of the body and its processes, he was the founder of Sei Tai. He says it is the Ki that directs cellular processes, and causes them to grow in the correct shape and size to form our human body. The movement of our heart, for instance, is not the same, Noguchi says, as a piece of chalk being moved around. Our movements come from within, directed by Ki. In its expression, Ki is felt as our motivations. From these motivations we move an arm or leg. But more important still, without motivations, as occurs with some people who retire and lose their motivations, their being loses its health. Therefore, Noguchi says that instead of treating the shell, the body, one ought in such cases to treat the Ki and to restore the quality of its positive motivations.

An example of this is as follows:
I started showing a woman in her sixties how to let her body heal itself through     movement. Maria was married, had a lovely country cottage, but had not been outdoors for months. She was suffering from aches and pains in her arms, felt life had lost its interest, and asked for help.
Maria quickly learned to relax enough to allow her body freedom to express without inhibiting self criticism. Her movements were slow and tentative at first but soon included her whole body, producing feelings of pleasure. To allow such movements Maria had to learn how to give her body and feelings time in which to explore unplanned movement – movement arising from her own subtle body impulses. Such subtle urges are often overlooked, or are crowded out by ones thoughts of what one ought to be doing, or what is appropriate in the circumstances.
Haruchika Noguchi


So Maria created a mood, and gave herself time, in which she could allow irrational movement – movement that had not been thought-out beforehand, or given by someone else. Such movements are usually quite different to the sort of things one finds recommended in exercise books. The reason being that they are often unique mixtures of exercise, dance, mime, and generally letting oneself go enough to do what might have otherwise be seen as ridiculous. Nevertheless, such irrational expression is very satisfying. In Maria’s case she started with slow arm movements. Gradually the rest of her body was included in an expression of pleasure and sensual enjoyment in which she rolled and squirmed on the floor – movements and feelings that surprised Maria.
Within three weeks Maria went out with her husband, and bought new clothes, something she hadn’t done for years. She told me she realised she had been holding back all her pleasure, all her positive drive and feelings. In fact Maria had unconsciously been holding back HERSELF. In liberating her body and emotions she had liberated herself from the prison of her own depression. Frequently depression or lack of enthusiasm for life occurs through the suppression of our own feelings – the stagnation of our urge to move and live.

Most ancient cultures have developed explanations of this subtle energy field within and around the body. Western science and medicine is now beginning to be able to demonstrate it also. Dr. Dolores Krieger, who is a professor of nursing at New York University became interested in the subject after studying the work of Oscar Esteban, a Hungarian healer. After studying with Dora Kunz, Kreiger was able to work with the energy field in effective healing. She went on to teach ‘therapeutic touch’ to nurses in a master’s level course at New York University.

Valerie Hunt, a professor of kinesiology at UCLA has been able to demonstrate the presence and importance of the energy field using a electromyograph. This is an electronic device measuring electrical activity in the muscles.

The Japanese teach that when you place your hands on another persons body, you respond to it. You will feel the energy field if you take time to watch your sensations with awareness. Sometimes your hands feel cold, or there is the sensation of ants crawling on them. If there is a cold response, it may be that there is a lack of vitality in that part of their body. You must continue Yuki – that is, directing Ki energy – until the hands return to normal. They also say that you will gradually learn to work with these subtle feelings with greater discernment through practise. Noguchi says that on the part of the person receiving Yuki there are observable changes. Their pulse rate increases, they feel more relaxed and sometimes sleepy. The effects are 1) relaxation. 2) heightened sensitivity. 3) discharge. There is certainly a very real help from Yuki, and at present there is much research into how such techniques can be used in healing the sick.

The way I was taught yuki was very simple and without any theoretical background. It is as follows:

The Practice Of Yuki

Yuki is practised with two people. There can of course be many couples using yuki at the same time. One person is the receiver and one the giver. The Japanese who taught me did not limit themselves with ideas of the healthy healing the sick. They used yuki because it was fun to do. But it can be used to help someone who is below par. Also the person need not be near to be able to send healing to them. Imagine you are reaching out and touching the person.

1 – The starting point is that the receiver can choose whether to lie down, sit or stand. They become quiet and receptive to the giver. The giver allows their own inner-directed movements, as occurs in katsugen-undo. But the giver holds in mind that what they are allowing is in response to the receiver. I have found a useful way to begin is to be about three feet away from the receiver and hold your hands out towards them as if warming your hands. From there follow the delicate urges to move. The idea is not to massage the person, but touch is allowed as you simply follow what your hands and body want to do.

2 – The receiver can also allow their own movements in response to the contact with the giver. In watching the Japanese use yuki, there were all levels of response. Sometimes the receiver remains very quiet, even sleepy. Other times both partners move into a lovely dance of responsive spontaneous movement and contact – or a fast moving play with lots of laughter. The contact may be delicate or full. Very often the hands of the giver do not touch the receiver, but move at a distance from them.

3 – The receiver is to be respected. In Western groups who were unfamiliar with ‘tenshin’ or waiting, on occasion I have seen the giver drop any openness to the needs of the receiver and consciously decide what ought to happen, and drag a receiver to their feet. The giver felt that was where they ought to go. The inner situation or movements of the receiver were thus completely ignored. This non respect for another person’s integrity is not the way to use yuki. The interaction between giver and receiver in yuki, if allowed to develop naturally, often shifts to a mutual giving and receiving.

Yuki People using Yuki

The experience of yuki is one of the most delightful facets of Sei Tai. Not only does it develop sensitivity in a relationship, but it also enables two people to discover a world of non verbal communication and meeting. It develops the sensitivity of responsiveness necessary in intimate relationships. Finding that the Japanese had developed this gentle way of strangers meeting and touching showed me an unsuspected side to their culture. Teaching it in the West people have sincerely thanked me for showing them how to discover their own beauty and flow in meeting another person.

Working With A Sick Person

The Japanese practitioners of Seitai say that yuki can be useful if a person is feeling unwell. If the person you are giving yuki to is actually ill, there need be no change in the way you give it. It is best if you have practised inner-directed movement for some time to feel easy with allowing spontaneous movement. It is enough to hold the sick person in mind and open yourself to what arises from within. It doesn’t even matter if physical contact is not made.

In Subud the movements (latihan) are sometimes allowed in the presence of a sick person. Unlike yuki, there is no attempt to touch the sick person. It is important to remember however that the different approaches demonstrate the significant fact that the process can work well in various settings and ways. The physical distance of thousands of miles in reality makes no difference. The biggest barrier is not distance or even degree of illness, it is the beliefs, convictions and limitations we live within.
Open to your inner-directed movements with the person in mind who needs support. It does not matter whether the person is near to you or many miles away.

To Start Your Own Spontaneous Movement

What follows is not the method used by Sei Tai, but something I developed. In Sei Tai no vocal sounds are ever used. I found great release by allowing spontaneous sound emerge from me. It adds an emotional dimension to an otherwise silent practice.

One of the easiest ways to begin inner-directed movement is to use your body’s own urge to express spontaneous movement, as with yawning. Practice this one a few times on different days before attempting the next ones.
You need clothes suitable for easy movement, and about ten to twenty minutes during which time you can give yourself fully to whatever your body and feelings suggest. Do not take this suggestion of time rigidly though. If your session is shorter or longer follow your own needs.

1 –        When ready, stand in the space, listen to the music and drop unnecessary tensions. Remind yourself that for the next few minutes you are going to let your body play. You are going to let it off the lead.

2 –        Open your mouth wide with head slightly dropped back and simulate yawns. As you do so notice whether a natural yawn starts to make itself felt. If it does, allow it to take over and have a really luxurious yawn. Any following impulse to yawn again should be allowed.

3 –        Let the yawns come one after the other if they want to. Without acting it out, let the impulse to yawn take over your body, not just your mouth and face. So if the urge to move includes the arms or elsewhere, let it happen.

4 –       Give yourself over to the enjoyment of having time to really indulge your own natural feelings and body pleasure. If the yawning develops into other movements and stretches, let it. In the same way you would normally allow your body to express itself in a yawn, let it express itself in whatever other form of movement, postures or stretches arise. Maybe it will be noisy yawns, so allow whatever noises you want to make, however ‘silly’. If this flows into movements following the music, don’t hold yourself back. Or your movements might not follow the music, but have a direction of their own. This is play-time with your body, so enjoy it. What has gone before has simply been preparatory. Now you can do what you want.
5 –        Until you feel ready to stop, simply enjoy or explore the movements and feelings that arise – even if what arises for you after the initial yawns is a desire to lie on the floor and rest. That also is you expressing your needs.
Fiona, a woman who allowed herself this liberation of the body for the first time, describes her experience as follows:
“I found a quiet moment, spread a rug on the floor, knelt down with my head touching my knees and started running my hands through my hair – I have always found this very comforting. Soon I noticed myself beginning to wobble and shake, and it seemed so funny I began to laugh. I laughed without stopping for twenty minutes, rolling about the floor, on my face; on my back kicking my legs in the air; on my knees beating my hands on the floor. The tears rolled down my face, my voice became cracked, my diaphragm began to ache with unaccustomed exercise and still I went on laughing. Eventually I ended up by going round and round on the rug on my knees and elbows, banging my elbows on the floor in joyous abandon, my head and arms muffled up in my jersey which had slipped off me at some time, singing a wordless song of joy and freedom. Absolutely nothing mattered.”

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