Jin Shin Jyutsu: The Art of Hands-On Healing

Jin Shin Jyutsu: The Art of Hands-On Healing

Nema Nyar

“Nothing comes from nothing,” the saying goes. But in the energetic healing art called Jin Shin Jyutsu®, healing comes from nothing: there are no pills, no workouts, and no special equipment. We need only what we already have—our hands and our awareness—as a way to tap into the “no-thing,” the non-physical source of healing power. Curious? Read on!

Jin Shin Jyutsu (last word is pronounced “jitsu”) is a healing art that facilitates the flow of energy in the body. It is based on the premise that the cause of all illness—mental, emotional, and physical—is a blockage in the flow of energy. Originating in Japan, Jin Shin Jyutsu’s teachings were passed on orally from teacher to student until the early 1900s when Jiro Murai organized it into a coherent system of healing. He was inspired to do so after healing himself of a life-threatening illness using what he knew of the art—knowledge he gained by imitating the mudras depicted in temple statues associated with Tantric Buddhism. One of his primary students, a Japanese-American woman named Mary Burmeister, is responsible for collating his teachings into several books and sharing the knowledge with students all over the world.

We function best when our internal (subtle) energy flows freely.

The underlying principle of Jin Shin Jyutsu is that we function best when our internal (subtle) energy flows freely. Our energy, like a river at its delta that branches into smaller and smaller rivulets, oversees all the processes of our body down to the cellular level. This energy is the matrix upon which our body is built. Stress, environmental factors, poor diet, and injury all interfere with its flow. Blocked or restricted flow of subtle energy can lead to discomfort in body, mind, and spirit. When stress and other adverse conditions are prolonged, the initial disharmony can deepen, causing disease. Jin Shin Jyutsu encourages the restoration of harmony. In other words, by cultivating balance we can avoid becoming sick in the first place.

The Body Electric

You can think of our energy system like the electrical system of a car, which depends on a battery. If the battery becomes depleted, the lights get dim, for example, or there is not enough charge to start the car. Just as you use jumper cables to start the car and recharge the battery, you can use your hands as jumper cables to jump-start your body’s energy system. This is accomplished by resting each of your hands on specific sites on the body that facilitate the flow of energy. Sites located along the central energy pathway in the body restore our “source” energy—energy that feeds the body’s other main energy currents. Sites along these secondary energy currents are called Safety Energy Locks (SELs). Just as an electrical fuse cuts the flow of electricity and alerts us to a problem in our electrical system, the SELs “lock” when they are exposed to stress, which diminishes the flow of energy. The diminished flow creates minor symptoms which alert us that something is out of balance in our energy field. If we do not pay attention and the SELs remain locked, the initial stress goes deeper, causing illness.

There are three primary energy flows in the body: The first is the Main Central—the central flow—which descends from the crown of the head to the perineum, then ascends up the back to the head. This flow is the source of our life energy; it serves as a foundation for the other two primary flows, and balance of this flow is linked to the state of our health. The Main Central outlines the shape of a zero, which is the body’s “no-thing” from which our life flows. A simple sequence to balance the Main Central can be used as a general tune-up, because it supports our overall health. It also helps more specifically with memory, reproductive functions, breathing, and spinal issues, as well as circulation to the legs and feet.

These tools are an art of living—an art that includes hands-on treatment and life philosophy.

The Main Central energy then divides into two Supervisors, one on the left and one on the right, which flow down the front and up the back of the left and right sides of the body, including the legs. These oversee the functions of the two sides of the body.

From the Main Central and Supervisors evolves a third type of primary flow, the Mediator, which circulates between the other primary flows and keeps our emotions and attitudes healthy. The SELs are located on the Supervisor and Mediator flows—26 SELs on each side of the body. From the three types of primary flows arise flows connected with all the organs, as well as flows that govern literally every process in the body.

When we use sequences of hand positions to balance these flows, which we can do either for ourselves or others, the energetic circuitry is reset, the breath deepens, the body relaxes, and symptoms subside. We might start with the sequence mentioned above for balancing the Main Central Flow for overall health, and then move on to sequences using SELs to address specific issues.

Healing That Comes from “No-Thing”

This way of looking at wellness may seem like foreign territory. As a culture, we are driven by modern science: we place our faith in tangible things. But many philosophies all over the world emphasize the subtle underpinnings—the healing power of “no-thing,” the non-physical source of the physical world. We are most familiar with therapies directed towards the effects of illness (the stuffy nose instead of an underlying stress or weakness, for example), and we see that these therapies frequently have side-effects (like dryness from decongestants). Jin Shin Jyutsu recognizes that the causes of illness reside at a more subtle level, and it gives us the tools to address these more subtle causes. These tools are an art of living—an art that includes both hands-on treatment and a philosophy of life.

Jin Shin Jyutsu recognizes that the causes of illness reside at a more subtle level.

Jin Shin Jyutsu’s hands-on treatment has three phases: awareness that we need help, the knowledge of what hand positions can help, and the application of them. For example, when we realize that we are under stress, we are sensing that our shoulders tense and our breath is rapid and shallow. In Jin Shin, we learn that the Main Central Flow restores serenity to our breath. A serene breath is the result of our energy flowing properly. Thus, we might choose to do a Main Central Flow to restore ourselves during stressful times.

Going beyond hands-on treatment, the art of living also includes discovering how to live in harmony with what is. We’ll continue with our example of stress: in Jin Shin’s philosophy, the degree of stress we feel is related to how accepting we are of our environment and circumstances. When we are averse to our circumstances, we get stressed, then sick. When we are accepting of what is in our life, we tend to stay well. Thus Burmeister writes, “Reality is simple. Have no preferences.” Decreasing our attachment or aversion to what is happening around us actually keeps us healthy.

Science Meets Jin Shin Jyutsu

Sixty years ago, scientists started using the concepts of quantum physics to understand biological processes, which has given them a vocabulary to describe the subtle forces that healers have been working with for millenia. Scientists have seen that fascia, the connective tissue found throughout the body, is made of collagen proteins arranged with water molecules in a highly structured way, similar to crystals. That arrangement allows fascia to be a conductor for the flow of electrons and protons. Some scientists theorize that acupuncture meridians, called flows in Jin Shin Jyutsu, may be pathways of decreased resistance to the flow of electrons and protons within the crystalline matrix of tissue in the body. The free movement of these subatomic particles plays a major role in the process of healing. (For more information on this topic, read Energy Medicine in Therapeutics and Human Performance by James Oschman.)

Whether or not this theory will stand the test of time, here are some good studies on the effects of Jin Shin Jyutsu:

  • Nurses who committed to daily self-help practice for one month showed “significant increases in positive outlook, gratitude, motivation, calmness, and communication effectiveness and significant decreases in anger, resentfulness, depression, stress symptoms, time pressure, and morale issues. Nurses reported less muscle aches, sleeplessness, and headaches.”
  • One session of Jin Shin Jyutsu helped alleviate pain, stress, and nausea in cancer patients.
  • Jin Shin sessions reduced heart rate significantly in patients receiving eight weeks of therapy, compared to a control group that received placebo treatments.
  • Jin Shin sessions increased cognitive function in patients with traumatic brain injury.
Learn More

If you would like to delve deeper into the effective use of Jin Shin Jyutsu self-help for relieving digestive, emotional, and immune function issues, you can find a self-help class on the Jin Shin Jyutsu website, or read the book The Touch of Healing by Alice Burmeister. While self-help is safe for anyone to use, a certified Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioner can support your healing when it comes to addressing more complex conditions. In the meantime, give the Main Central Flow (see below) a try, and observe the results for yourself.

Main Central Vertical

Balancing this flow nourishes all the other flows in the body and can be done daily to maintain health or to support healing in general.

  • STEP 1: Place the fingers of the right hand on the top of the head (where they will remain until step 6). Place the fingers of the left hand on your forehead between your eyebrows. Hold for 4–5 minutes or until the pulses you feel at the fingertips of your two hands synchronize with each other.
  • STEPS 2–5: Now move the left fingertips to the tip of the nose, then the center of the sternum, base of the sternum, and pubic symphysis. Hold each place for 4–5 minutes or until the pulses synchronize.
  • STEP 6: Keep your left fingertips in place and move your right fingertips to cover your coccyx (tailbone). Hold for 4–5 minutes or until the pulses you feel at your fingertips synchronize with each other.

About the Author

Nema Nyar

Nema Nyar, LMT is interested in how touch, sound, breath, movement, and meditation facilitate the flow of energy in the body to promote healing and expand awareness. A massage therapist at the Himalayan Institute's PureRejuv Wellness Center, she has also studied Shiatsu, Jin Shin Jyutsu, Myopathic Muscular Therapy, and Bowen Therapy. Nema trained and performed as a dancer for 20 years, and has experienced many movement modalities for healing, including the Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais Method, Dance Meditation Technique, and Continuum Movement. She is a graduate in English from Oberlin College, where she also studied voice, and leads weekly kirtans at the Himalayan Institute.