Is Shiatsu spiritually safe? Well, according to the Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs it is listed under the heading “Mystical and Supernaturalistic Health-Methods.” Shiatsu (as well as Acupuncture, Tai Chi, and Tapping) are all based on Taoism and belief in “chi” and “meridians.” The New Age has successfully entered mainstream “health” through these and other “alternatives” that are now seen as valid, although they have no scientific or medical validity in their beliefs.
Let’s read one woman’s testimony involving Shiatsu:
At the beginning of a ten year misdirection in my life, I asked the Lord about my future prospects as an instructor of shiatsu (Japanese massage). He gave me a disturbing dream in which I stepped up to a podium and forgot my lecture and instead gave a brief bio about an obese fashion designer named Lippincott who had a botched surgery job on his lips. The dream was prophetic, but I only understood it in retrospect. The main point of the dream was that the subject matter I was teaching was null and void and forgettable in God’s sight and that I would be confused and speechless as long as I taught it and that instead I would give my own testimony about how God delivered me from an empty waste.
I’ve been a massage therapist for fifteen years and have practiced both western and eastern modalities. Western massage modalities are based on anatomy physiology, and especially myology (the study of muscles, tendons, and fascia), whereas eastern modalities are based on an energy model of the body. My favorite eastern modality was shiatsu. Shiatsu is a Japanese form of massage that applies the principles and manipulative techniques of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). I became adept at shiatsu and taught it for several years at a couple of massage schools and wrote a textbook on the subject that was published by a prominent academic publisher–Prentice Hall Health/Pearson Education.
For about a decade, I immersed myself in the subject and became a subject matter expert. I liked it, but was frustrated with the negligible returns for the great investment I had made. Every time I sought what was good, right or fair in the marketplace–whether just compensation for my labor, academic freedom, extension in course length, more or better opportunities to advance the work, and promotion in proportion to my capability, I was blocked. Never had I been subjected to such a long, fruitless search for a decent, stable, local teaching job, much less an opportunity to become a nationally recognized itinerant educator. Something was hindering my advancement in the field and in my life in general, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. Little did I know that God Himself was thwarting me to protect me and others, for if I had enjoyed much success I would’ve become too invested in the dark side. In the beginning, He allowed modest success for the sake of my subsistence and as a lesson in bondage and freedom, but in the end, He removed me from a position of influence over people; I was no longer allowed to publicly disseminate this practice. The last school where I taught went belly up, and I could not jockey myself into another position after that. I let go of the prospect of teaching, but I was disgruntled and perplexed.
Because of a general sense of oppression and hindrance to my calling or destiny, I asked the Lord to execute vengeance in the heavenlies against the oppressor in my life, according to Psalm 103:6: “The Lord executes righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.” Not long afterward, I attended an equipping seminar on inner healing and deliverance taught by a Presbyterian minister and exorcist named Gary Hixson. Mr. Hixson had no knowledge of me whatsoever; he did not know I was a massage therapist, much less an expert in shiatsu. I volunteered for a public demonstration, and while he was briefly interviewing me about areas of wounding, he got a word of knowledge, and the word was “shiatsu.” I was puzzled, but intrigued. Few people know about shiatsu because it is a niche speciality. “What’s the matter with shiatsu?” I asked. He suggested it was demonic, but I was skeptical. After all, I had practiced shiatsu with a perfect sense of moral rectitude for a decade; I considered it a potent healing art, and I regarded massage as an extension of Christ’s healing ministry through me. But the word of knowledge was so specific and so esoteric–it was like pulling a pink rabbit out of a black hat! Only God could have given him such a word of knowledge. He had my curiosity and respect.
I doubt I would’ve been interested in exploring the possibility that a demon of shiatsu was obstructing my potential, if it hadn’t been for the many dead ends in my career and my sense of frustration and futility in life. I was ready for revelation, but I was also realistic about the level of investment of my soul. I told Mr. Hixson that I needed a dramatic manifestation because my mind could rationalize or discount a subtler one. Mr. Hixson asked permission to invoke the demon, and I agreed, expecting nothing. At first nothing happened, yet after a while I felt an odd shifting and swirling force-field around my head. But that wasn’t enough to convince me, for later I might attribute these sensations to insomnia, caffeine, low blood sugar, stress, or some other plausible cause, though I had never felt mentally queasy like that before. So Mr. Hixson commanded the demon to manifest more dramatically. Suddenly, I began having heavy labored diaphragmatic breathing that sounded like a horse wheezing and that made my gut pump in and out. Then my right hand started slapping my thigh. Then my left foot started stomping on the ground. My eyes bulged, and a fierce expression settled on my face.
“Is that all you can do?” Mr. Hixson said, addressing the demon, but I was shocked! How could the demon hijack my autonomic and motor functions to such an extent? Clearly, another entity was living inside me, pushing the buttons and flipping the switches on my control panel! Mr. Hixson asked the demon, “How did you enter her?” “Literature,” it said, referring to Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) literature, the kind that doctors of oriental medicine (OMDs) study in order to practice acupuncture and herbalism and cupping and moxabustion and guasha. Then Mr. Hixson asked, “Can clients get demonized by receiving shiatsu?” The demon said, “Yes,” and Mr. Hixson unceremoniously cast it out.
Afterward I regretted that he didn’t cross examine the demon more because I had a truck load of questions. The Lord later reassured me that I was better off asking Him than the demon for insight and understanding. Duh. But why was I so upset to discover that I had a demon of oriental medicine? Why wasn’t I relieved that the agent of darkness had been exposed and expelled? Well, for one thing, being un-deceived is a nasty surprise. For another, I had wasted a decade of hard work in my prime. The book alone took me more than four years to write and edit. According to the demon, it got access to me during this time of intense research and scholarship. So not only did I suffer loss, but damage, for I had become an agent of darkness, a drug mule for the devil, delivering spiritual dope from a cavity within me! Lastly, my sense of direction in life was turned upside down; my confidence in my ability to choose wisely was shattered.
I sought the Lord for explanations, beginning with the peculiar demonic manifestations: Why did the demon manifest as a shifting force field around my head? as bellows breathing? as hand slapping? foot stomping?
The Lord said that the foot stomping was the demon’s attempt to stand its ground and assert ownership of its putative territory, my body. Demons refer to the host’s body as “my house” (Matt 12:44). The feet can represent ownership of real estate. A property owner has the right to stand and walk around on his property; everybody else is a trespasser unless invited. In the ancient middle east, real estate transactions were confirmed by the seller of land giving the buyer his shoe, which served as a piece of tangible evidence much like a title deed showing that the right to stand on the ground had been transferred from the seller to the buyer (Ruth 4:7-8). So the demon was pounding my foot on the ground in defense of its bogus squatter’s claim. But Jesus gave us “authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing by any means shall harm us” (Luke 10:19). The deliverance ministry is an eviction proceeding against unlawful tenancy.
The thigh slapping or one hand clapping behavior was the demon’s attempt to enlist the help of other spirits. Oriental cultures share the custom of clapping to invoke help. For example, Japanese clap to awaken and attract spirits at a Shinto shrine; Indians clap to summon servants. But Mr. Hixson had preemptively forbidden interference from outside demons at the beginning of the session, so the demon clapped in vain. It was doomed to practice the Zen Buddhist koan, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” with no hope of satori.
The Lord showed me that the demon manifested as a force field around my head because my appropriation of TCM (energy medicine) was primarily intellectual. I only had head knowledge of the practice of manipulating energy. The Lord seemed to imply that if I had believed and practiced it on a deeper level, I would’ve experienced and transmitted more of its power. Perhaps my whole body would’ve been enveloped in a force field? Perhaps I would’ve felt a force field radiating from my eyes or hands or belly? Admittedly, I had never felt completely natural and at ease applying the Chinese medical model. It had always seemed foreign me, and not just because it was from China, but because it was strange.
It was all about this strange thing called Qi (pronounced “Chee” or “Key”) and its manifestations, movements, and functions. Westerners translate Qi as “vital energy,” “life force,” or “bioelectricity,” and equate it with electro-magnetic phenomena in the body, which the ancient Chinese purportedly discovered long before modern medical instruments like EKG, EEG and EMG could detect it and long before electrotherapy and magnetic field therapy devices could simulate it. But there was something elusive and alien about Qi that defied scientific explanations and the neat one-to-one correspondence of eastern and western concepts. Qi seemed to be something more or other than electricity generated by and conducted through tissues and the magnetic fields that are emitted. Because I was uncomfortable with the concept of Qi, I always had approached treatment analytically like an academic exercise, never intuitively. I regarded the energy model as a tool, rather than an innate aspect of my being, so it never became welded with my personality. Hence, the demon’s primary base of operation was through my mind.
The bellows breathing induced by the demon reveals the connection between air, breath, and spirit. The Lord showed me that the ancient Chinese ideogram for Qi, the Hebrew word ruwach, and the Greek word pneuma are all synonymous: They refer to the same phenomena: air, breath, and spirit. The earliest non-medical character for Qi is a symbol for rising clouds, mist or vapor; and by logical extension, breath, as when a person exhales in a cold environment; and by analogy, spirit. Likewise, the Hebrew word ruwach means wind; and by extension, breath, especially a forceful exhalation; and by analogy, the spirit of a rational being. The Greek word pneuma is the same: It means a current of air, blast, breeze, breath; and by analogy, spirit.
The Chinese regard Qi as the vital life principle that gives and supports life. The Hebrew and Greek words also share this meaning. In the Old Testament, the word ruwach is identified with the Spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters at creation (Gen 1:2) and also the breath that God exhaled into the body of man to give him life as a unique soul and spirit: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Gen 2:7). Similarly, in the New Testament, the word pneuma is identified with the divine Spirit–“God is Spirit” (John 4:23)–and is likened to moving air or wind: “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).
Similarly, Qi refers to a spirit that is like a breath or current of air. But what kind of spirit is meant? In the Bible, the context reveals whether the spirit is divine (God, Holy Spirit, or Christ), human, or superhuman (an angel or demon). For example, a human spirit is identified in the verses: “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha” (2 King 2:15) and “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38). Conversely, a demon is identified in the verses: “But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him” (1 Sam 16:14) and “…immediately there met Him [Jesus] out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit” (Mark 5:2).
The spirit associated with Qi cannot be divine in the Christian sense because the Chinese culture emerged out of shamanism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism, and not Christianity. The spirit associated with Qi is not God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit, or Christ’s Spirit, but a human spirit and/or an evil spirit. Certainly, a human spirit is always involved in any purposeful activity, and a human spirit has power to produce a desired outcome: “…now nothing that they have imagined they can do will be impossible for them” (Gen 11:6). Those who study energy medicine learn that energy follows intention the same way the body follows the lead and direction of the head. Those who master energy medicine are very adept at focusing their will to achieve a certain result. In this respect, energy medicine is the product of the human spirit.
But how can energy medicine conjure up a demon? In the general sense, energy medicine is a form of faith healing. The expectation of a supernatural result from natural means is faith healing; so also is the expectation of a non sequitur result, one that does not logically follow the methods used. Faith healing is an invitation to the spirit realm to get involved in the activity. Thus, a demon can piggyback on energy medicine techniques, or for that matter, any Qigong practice that develops and directs Qi toward a result that transcends human or natural means.
In the specific sense, Chinese medicine is inextricably intertwined with Chinese religion, for it a synthesis of mystical beliefs and practices, primarily Taoism, but also shamanism and Confucianism. Taoist cosmology identifies the origin of the universe as an empty void or chaos, and not God, and explains life as the interplay of natural forces apart from God. Taoist healing arts view man as made in the image of nature, not God. Man is a microcosm; a climate pattern; an energy pattern. These Taoist ideas are elaborated as yin yang theory and five element theory, and still dominate the practice of Chinese medicine today, after two millennia. Some may suppose that the Taoist creation account doesn’t matter, for Taoist healing arts advocate simplicity, moderation, and living in harmony with nature. But Taoism is another gospel, and that matters to God. Taoism replaces God with nothingness, nature and natural forces.
As a Taoist practice or idolatry, Chinese medicine necessarily invites a demon to interpose itself between me and my client, whether I know and want it or not. When I raise and direct Qi, I am empowered by something more than the air I breathe and the energy I generate; I am empowered by a demon of oriental medicine. To me, this explains one of Satan’s titles as “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2).
If you don’t know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior you can receive Him into your heart and He can deliver you from darkness and sin and have your name written in His Book of Life.
If you are sincere you can say this simple prayer to the Father (it doesn’t have to be word for word):
“God, I recognize that I have not lived my life for You up until now. I have been living for myself and that is wrong. Please forgive me of all of my sins just as I forgive others. I need You in my life; I want You in my life. I acknowledge the completed work of Your only begotten Son Jesus Christ in giving His life for me on the cross, I believe in my heart Jesus is Lord and was raised from the dead and I long to receive the forgiveness you have made freely available to me through this sacrifice. Come into my life now, Lord. Take up residence in my heart and be my king, my Lord, and my Savior. From this day forward, I will no longer be controlled by sin, or the desire to please myself, but I will follow You all the days of my life. Those days are in Your hands. I ask this in the Lord and GOD Jesus’ precious and holy name. Amen.”