Ancient touch therapy Jin Shin Jyutsu gains popularity in Connecticut

http://www.nhregister.com/general-news/20130223/ancient-touch-therapy-jin-shin-jyutsu-gains-popularity-in-connecticut
New Haven Register
By Sandi Kahn Shelton
POSTED: 02/23/13, 12:00 AM EST

Nini Munro-Chmura of New Haven knows what it’s like to suffer from debilitating pain all the time. There were years she was bedridden with chronic Lyme disease, hurting so badly that she couldn’t turn her head or lift her arms. She had to rely on an attendant to take complete care of her.

Today, even though Munro-Chmura hasn’t stumbled upon a miracle cure, she walks for an hour each day, works out at the gym, and easily turns her head. She’s back to being independent.

She says she owes a debt of thanks to an ancient form of touch therapy from Japan, Jin Shin Jyutsu (pronounced “jin shin jitsu”), which is said to be natural, gentle and non-invasive and can bring relief — sometimes immediately — to those suffering from pain or disease.

Its proponents describe it as an energy healing technique that uses the same principles as acupressure, except that no pressure is used. It works by using touch to free up places in our bodies where our energy might be blocked, says Sally Jane Algiere, a registered nurse and practitioner in Madison, who treats Munro-Chmura.

Admitting that it’s hard to talk about the body’s need to balance energy without sounding “all woo-woo,” Algiere says the principles of Jin Shin Jyutsu are simple.

“We do pulse readings,” she says. “I know how to listen to the organs in the body to get a sense of where the dams are. Jin Shin Jyutsu is an art, and it’s really about clearing toxins and clearing dams in the body that lead to stagnation or disease or discord or imbalance.”

During a session — which takes about an hour — the patient lies face-up on a padded table, fully clothed except for shoes, and the practitioner places her hands on different points along the body, known as “safety energy locks,” which are similar to acupressure points. These are the places where energy might get blocked as it moves throughout the body.

“When there is stagnation in the pathways, it can lead to pain and disease or imbalance,” said Algiere. “So we’re listening to the pulses, and by stimulating the different points in the circuit in order, we can free up the stagnation. The body does the healing itself. Our hands are conductors of energy, and when we correct the flow, we correct the physical.”

There is no grasping or manipulation.

“The idea is that we have an electrical system, and Jin Shin Jyutsu functions like a jumper cable, creating a connection between two points, and completing the circuit,” said Dr. Steven Jacob, a doctor of Chinese medicine and co-owner of Health Options Center for Wellness in Guilford. “When I put my hands on the body, I feel a pulse, a rhythm. The longer I hold the point, the more they synchronize.”

Algiere, who worked as a nurse at Yale-New Haven Hospital for 17 years, said she believes very strongly in western medicine and wasn’t immediately willing to accept at face value anecdotal evidence of Jin Shin Jyutsu’s effectiveness. After taking an intense class at New York University, she was impressed with the studies and theory of how this practice worked.

“I was blown away,” she said. “This wasn’t something that was weird. It was being taught by really bright, grounded people, and it aligned well with western medicine. I fell in love with it.”

Jin Shin Jyutsu, which predates acupuncture, is not nearly as well-known as other Eastern practices, such as acupuncture, acupressure and Reiki. Brought to this country in the 1950s by a Japanese-American woman named Mary Burmeister, who learned it during her years in Japan, it has not been advertised or widely promoted.

“Mary didn’t see the need to go out and scream about it from the rooftops. She was more concerned with the depth of her studies of the art,” said Algiere. “She felt that the people who needed it would come to it on their own.”

Now it has a national headquarters in Scottsdale, Ariz., and is being more widely taught, gaining proponents everywhere.

In recent years, Jin Shin Jyutsu has been incorporated into some hospitals, providing a way of easing pain and the fears of patients undergoing procedures for cancer or for debilitating illnesses. The University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center in Lexington, Ky., recently did a study with 159 cancer patients who were given Jin Shin Jyutsu treatments and asked to rate their pain and stress both before and after. Patients reported a two-point diminishment of their pain and a three-point lessening of their stress after their sessions, with benefits lasting for many hours or days.

Perhaps one of the best things about Jin Shin Jyutsu is that it is designed to be a self-help practice, with people encouraged to learn the techniques and manage their own pain and stress.

“We do things that harmonize ourselves all the time,” Algiere said. “When we stroke our heads when we’re tense or clasp our thumbs when we’re worried, we’re using the principles of Jin Shin Jyutsu.”

In fact, she said, one of the best things you can do for yourself every day is simply to hold each finger one by one, wrapping the fingers of your other hand around them for a few minutes each day. Each finger has its own corresponding organ and attitude:

If you’re worried, hold onto your thumb. Fearful? Hold the index finger. And if you’re angry or indecisive, grasp the middle finger. For sadness, hold onto your ring finger, and when you’re feeling insecure or overwhelmed, hold the pinky finger.

Algiere stressed that Jin Shin Jyutsu is not meant to take the place of appropriate medical care, and she often refers people to medical specialists. But, she added, it can be a supplement and can help optimize the quality of life for patients who are facing health challenges, or who simply want to maintain a healthy, harmonious body.

For more information about Jin Shin Jyutsu or to find other local practitioners, go to http://jsjinc.net. To see a youtube video about the practice, go to http://bit.ly/122iTX1. Algiere can be reached at 203-245-6767.

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