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the foundations of the art
We live in an age of information. The media are able to broadcast global events within seconds of their occurrence. The Internet links us to specialized data. Increasingly, we hope that scientific and technological advances will grant us a better understanding of ourselves, along with the secrets of well-being.
Our growing reliance upon external information has gradually obscured a simple, innate awareness that all of us have long possessed. Inherent in this awareness are all the tools that we need to genuinely enrich our health and the quality of our lives.
A student seeking to familiarize herself with the Art of Jin Shin Jyutsu attended her first class.
During the lunch break, the student introduced herself to the teacher, Mary Burmeister. She confessed to feeling a bit overwhelmed. “I’m afraid that I don’t know anything about Jin Shin Jyutsu.”
Mary smiled and said, “You already know everything about it.”
The art of Jin Shin Jyutsu enables us to re-experience this awareness. Moreover, it teaches us how to utilize it for greater physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. No complicated technique or effort is required to apply it. Its seeds have lain dormant within us for virtually thousands of years. In order to revive them, we need only heed Plato’s teaching that “learning is remembering.”
the life in all things
In ancient times traditional people saw no distinction between body, mind, and spirit. Consequently, the practices they used to assist the body naturally promoted physical, emotional, and spiritual wholeness. Moreover, people saw their health or “harmony” as dependent upon bringing seemingly disparate elements into balance.
Jin Shin Jyutsu (pronounced jin shin jitsu) helps us remember that every one of us possesses the simplest instruments needed to bring about harmonious balance—the breath and hands. It reminds us that these instruments are all that we need to enhance our physical and mental vitality, which in turn help eliminate the causes underlying disease, or “disharmony.” Most importantly, it reawakens our awareness of the life energy that permeates the universe. This renewed awareness enables us to send life-giving energy through various locations on the body.
The concept of a life energy that pervades the universe and gives life to all things is unfamiliar to many of us. In much of the Western world, we’re likely to view life as nothing more than certain chemical processes that make possible the utilization of energy, metabolism, growth, and reproduction.
This concept, given to us by modern science, focuses on the biological aspects of life. From its point of view, life begins and ends with biology, or with the physical part of life. But practitioners of Jin Shin Jyutsu—and indeed, traditional people everywhere—ask themselves: What powers these chemical interactions? What gives life to our organs and systems? What is the force that brings the body to life?
In seeking the answers to these questions, traditional people learned to look beyond to the underlying energy that vitalizes the physical body. They see life as pervaded by a single living force, manifested in every individual organism—plants, insects, animals, and human beings. The ancient Greeks referred to this energy as pneuma; the Hindus call it prana; the Chinese know it as chi (also qi), and the Japanese, ki.
The recognition of a life energy that animates all living things is not merely a philosophical belief. It is also a practical approach to life and healing. Indeed, virtually all traditional healing systems—from Ayurvedic to Greek and Chinese—are founded on the principle that in order to heal the body, the person must strengthen and harmonize the flow of life energy within. This principle provides the basis for such arts as acupuncture and acupressure, as well as for the healing herbs and foods of Chinese medicine.
Mary Burmeister, who introduced Jin Shin Jyutsu to the Western world more than forty years ago, illustrates the importance of life energy by using a simple analogy: “What makes a car engine start when you turn on the key? The battery of the car. The battery is the necessary energy source for the various functions of the car. Now, what makes a heart beat? What makes breathing possible? What makes digestion possible? The Battery of Life. An energy source is necessary for the body to function. That source is the battery of life.”
Our health or harmony depends upon the free and even distribution of this life energy throughout our body, mind, and spirit. When the stress and strain of daily living disrupts the movement of life energy, our mind, body, and spirit are all affected. Not only do we succumb to worry, fear, anger, sadness, and pretensions, but we increase our tendency to become ill or “out of balance.”
Quite simply, Jin Shin Jyutsu is a way to balance the life energy. It shows us how to use simple hands-on sequences to restore emotional equilibrium, relieve pain, and release the causes of both acute and chronic conditions. It can be used safely in conjunction with any other therapy or medication. Furthermore, its benefits are cumulative, so that the more we practice it, the greater is our vitality and self-knowledge.
Jin Shin Jyutsu can be used anywhere and at any time. Its methods are so easy and unobtrusive that you may use them on yourself in a crowded bus or in the middle of a difficult meeting. The only thing people may notice—if they notice anything at all—is a more balanced demeanor, an aura of relaxation, and—upon closer examination—that you are holding one or more of your fingers.
the forgotten art, recently remembered
The name Jin Shin Jyutsu means “The Art of the Creator through the person of compassion.” The healing art that those words represent is based upon our own natural, innate ability to harmonize ourselves. For thousands of years, ancient peoples used this awareness to heal both themselves and others. But with successive generations this awareness grew dimmer until it was all but forgotten. In the early part of the twentieth century, a Japanese sage named Jiro Murai recovered Jin Shin Jyutsu—out of necessity.
Jiro Murai was born in Taiseimura (currently Kaga City), in Ishikawa Prefecture, in 1886. He was the second son born to his parents. Jiro’s father, like his father and so many of his ancestors, was a medical doctor. Since Japanese custom expected that the eldest son would follow in the profession of his father, Jiro was free to choose his own path. He started out as a breeder of silkworms, but he had a reckless nature and overindulged in food and drink—even to the point of entering eating contests, in which he was awarded cash prizes for consuming huge quantities. By the time he was 26, he was seriously ill. A succession of doctors treated him, but his condition only worsened until he was pronounced incurable and given up for terminally ill. As a last request, he asked his family to carry him on a stretcher to their mountain cabin and to leave him there alone for seven days. He asked that they return for him on the eighth day.
There in the cabin Murai fasted, meditated, and practiced various finger postures. During this time he passed in and out of consciousness. His physical body grew colder. But on the seventh day he felt as if he had been lifted out of a deep freeze and thrown into a blazing furnace. When the intense heat subsided, he experienced a tremendous calm and inner peace. To his great surprise, he was healed. He dropped to his knees, gave thanks, and pledged his life to the study of healing.
Murai’s commitment to understanding the causes of disharmony was profound. Gil Burmeister remembers him as a man obsessed with the pursuit of knowledge: “Jiro did his research among the homeless in Wano Park, in Tokyo. A large population lived in the park. Jiro would take care of the people there and study the incredible variety of illnesses that these people presented. I remember that he went through a period of studying ear problems for a while. He wanted to work on anybody who had any kind of ear complaint. Once he understood ear problems, he’d go on to something else.” Murai’s prodigious research led him to an awareness of a healing art that he called Jin Shin Jyutsu.
As Murai’s understanding of the Art deepened, the meaning of the name Jin Shin Jyutsu evolved. At first, he used the words to mean “the Art of Happiness,” later “the Art of Longevity.” The meaning further evolved to “the Art of Benevolence” and ultimately to “the Art of the Creator through the person of compassion.”