What is Jin Shin Do? Jin Shin Do is an energy-based approach that acts as a bridge between East and West. On the one hand, it draws on acupuncture theory and a unique acupressure technique, and it also uses exercises and borrows from Taoist philosophy. On the other, it cultivates a Western vision of bodymind work. It acts on the body, the psyche and the emotions, based on the notion that emotional experience is manifest in the body, and conversely, that physical experience is manifest in the psyche. Emotions and the body are two manifestations of the same reality: a person’s vitality.

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First developed by American psychotherapist Iona Marsaa Teenguarden in the 1970s, Jin Shin Do is a technique that pairs elements of Japanese and Chinese acupressure with Taoist philosophy and several Western psychotherapy techniques.

After completing her studies in the United States and Asia, Iona Marsaa Teenguarden created a massage technique whereby acupressure points and breathing are used to promote the relaxation of the body and the mind.

Applications and effects of Jin Shin Do

At the outset, Jin Shin Do was designed as a tool to facilitate touch between people in the same family, and between spouses and friends. The idea was that people can help improve the well-being of others through simple gestures that anyone can perform.

Jin Shin Do is also a tool for improving self-knowledge. For the recipient, the characteristic Jin Shin Do touch – soft, specific, attentive and non-invasive – and its slow rhythm create a space that is conducive to making connections between different aspects of the self.
This technique can be used to ease chronic tension, by acting on what Wilhem Reich called “muscular armoring”. To cite an example: A long-standing abdominal muscle contraction gives rise to tension and tightness in the area, thereby affecting breathing. An effect is also felt on an emotional level, often resulting in a reduced capacity to feel the need to love and be loved. A softening of this armor will first lead to a clear awareness of the area of tension (which becomes perceptible again) and the related emotional blockage. In order to achieve this, points within this area – i.e., the abdomen and back – will be combined, along with other points located along the same meridians, but outside of this area. A more complete release, with attentive support, will in turn promote an opening of the abdomen. Muscle relaxation and improved breathing, coupled with a new feeling of connection, give rise to a renewed physical and emotional vitality. The release is not felt in only one part of the body; rather, the entire being is revitalized.

Indications and contraindications of Jin Shin Do

Jin Shin Do is used for a wide range of purposes, from deep relaxation to more refined therapeutic work. The initial assessment is based mainly on questions and palpations. Extensive knowledge of Chinese energetic medicine can have positive effects on a host of stress-related problems, muscle tensions, sciatica and migraines, and on various functional problems related to menstruation and digestion. While aiming primarily to restore energy balance between the different parts of the body, Jin Shin Do also has an effect on several symptoms that, in reality, are but manifestations of an imbalance. And though its primary objective is to provide physical relief, it can also be accompanied by an emotional release.
As this technique is very soft, there are very few contraindications associated with Jin Shin Do. There are just a few points to avoid during pregnancy.


Conduct of a session

The session takes place on a massage table, with the recipient lying down and clothed.

In concrete terms, the practitioner uses one finger in each hand to combine two specific acupuncture points. This is done between a local point (often in a muscular area of tension or pain) and distant points located largely at the extremities. The two points can be located along the same organ meridian or the same extra meridian, sometimes called a “marvelous vessel.” The use of these extra meridians (of which there are eight), which act as energy reservoirs, can be likened to a lock gate that restores balance: upper-lower body, front and back, left and right, inner and outer. What’s more, combining the two points is sometimes done on different meridians within the same area. An energy relationship is thus created between the area of tension and distant regions, with the result that circulation is re-established, with a release of muscle tension and a sustainable relaxation, along with a profound sense of unity.

There is no set rule concerning the number of sessions to receive: It depends on the person and their needs. Sometimes, a single session will suffice to restore balance and well-being. More often than not, for a specific request, a series of five to 10 sessions is recommended. Receiving a Jin Shin Do massage during a change of seasons – which always requires an adaptation on the part of the body and the mind and can be a source of imbalance – can also be tonifying. This emphasis on adapting to the seasons reflects the ancient Chinese attitude towards health.


Students and massage therapists

Basic training is available to everyone. Continuing professional training, for its part, can be useful for many practitioners, massage therapists, psychotherapists, physiotherapists, and nurses who want to use powerful but non-invasive touch. Jin Shin Do pairs well with several other techniques, including massage, craniosacral work, and of course various types of verbal interventions on the psychological and emotional levels.

Training is recognized by the Fédération québécoise des massothérapeutes and by the Jin Shin Do Foundation, a California-based organization that regulates recognition criteria for authorized practitioners and teachers, which are currently recognized in 11 countries. The name Jin Shin Do, meaning “the way of the compassionate spirit”, is a registered trademark. Teachers are accredited to teach basic, intermediate and advanced levels.

Training offered at the Institut de massothérapie du Québec (IFMQ):

Introduction to Jin Shin Do ®

Jin Shin Do ® – Basic training


To find out more about Jin Shin Do: 

Soyez zen grâce au Jin Shin Do (in French)