Harmony Through Supportive Touch: An Interview with Zen Shiatsu Practitioner Eran Karnieli

Eran Karnieli’s life turned around when he discovered shiatsu. Today, he is a seasoned practitioner and instructor of Zen shiatsu, and currently co-manages the “Maga” school for shiatsu practitioners in Jerusalem. He also offers consultation and support to individuals and groups on leading a healthier lifestyle, as a life coach and NLP practitioner, and he practices and teaches Seishin Kitaido—a body discipline combining the principles of the Japanese martial arts with other movement disciplines for transformative expression. 

Tell us about your professional background. 

I’m a Zen shiatsu practitioner with more than 10 years of experience. I was trained at the “Maga” school, the largest in Israel for the study of Zen shiatsu, and in recent years I have been involved in its management. Today, aside from my clinical work, I teach shiatsu and coaching as well as Seishin Kitaido—a discipline that borders between martial arts and movement disciplines. 

What is Zen shiatsu and what are its benefits? 

During a Zen shiatsu treatment, the patient lies, fully and comfortably clothed, on a futon mattress on the floor, so he feels safe and close to the earth. The practitioner skillfully moves his weight around vertically through his hands, thumbs, forearms, and even knees, along the patient’s body, so there is mutual support: The practitioner is supported by the patient, and simultaneously, the contact gives the patient a natural sense of being supported. This delicate balance allows the practitioner to pay attention and immediately respond to anything happening in the patient’s body, while at the same time providing touch therapy that has a deep and gentle presence. The treatment has a deep influence even though it is not experienced as intrusive, and that’s what makes it so effective in changing the patient’s condition. Sometimes talk therapy, medications, or other manipulation will not bring about such results. Often patients initially come to alleviate pain, but after that has been achieved they realize that shiatsu is also an excellent way to nurture their general health. 

Zen shiatsu is based on the philosophy of Traditional Oriental Medicine, which was built on thousands of years of ongoing exploration and the perception of the body as a closed ecosystem in which each functional system influences and is influenced by the other systems within the body. Precise diagnosis, done through gentle touch, helps the practitioner understand which system needs the most support, so other systems will support it and return the patient to harmony, restoring vitality to the body. 

Zen shiatsu therapy doesn’t focus on symptoms, but rather nurturing the body’s natural health and resilience by supporting its basic functions. Presence through touch encourages the body to channel its resources toward its central needs, and the result is vitality, which relieves and sometimes eliminates symptoms such as pain, weakness, sleep problems, respiratory problems, digestive problems, emotional distress or depression, a tendency toward illness, gynecological problems and more. Shiatsu is particularly effective for maintaining the body’s health and emotional resilience. The treatment is appropriate for patients of all ages, from the very young to the elderly. Additionally, it’s effective as a supportive treatment for fertility, pregnancy, and birth. 

What brought you to this field? 

When I was young, I felt lost. During my academic studies, I was not a happy, confident person with a clear path in life. I stumbled across shiatsu, and fell in love. Through shiatsu, I was able to invite joy back into my life; I observed how important honest, attentive touch is for our basic existence, and the more precise it is, the more it helps us lead a better life. I witness this daily with my clients and students. 

How do you build a treatment plan that is adapted to the specific needs of your client? 

The client normally comes to me with a primary complaint. This is the complaint he feels is limiting him, but it may not necessarily be the root of the problem. In Zen shiatsu, we diagnose the patient through touch, particularly through exploration of the abdominal cavity (called “hara” in Japanese). I interview the patient about his experiences, and combining this information with what I perceive through touch, I identify what isn’t functioning properly and what systems are overcompensating, and start my treatment from there. 

We build a treatment plan adapted to the needs of the patient from information gathered in the initial consultations and in discussion with the patient. 

About Eran Karnieli 

Eran Karnieli is a shiatsu practitioner and instructor with over 10 years of experience as well as a practitioner and instructor of kitaido, a life coach, and an NLP practitioner. 

Eran can be reached at 052-402-0557 or 

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