Antigoni you were born in Athens in 1961. At early age you were in martial arts, a Shaolin Kung Fu trainer and athlete and freelancer photographer. During this time you encountered Shiatsu. How did that happen and what fascinated you about it?
In 1994 I was living in an island named Lesvos at the North East Greece. I was in a village of 3000 people running a photo lab and bookshop and I was practicing and teaching Shaolin Kung Fu. It had been a movement of young people from North and Central Greece mixed with foreigners looking for an alternative way of living. I had a friend from Switzerland; she was a Shiatsu practitioner, well known in the local society as some craftsmen with somatic disorders have been relieved by her skills. After a while, during a heartbroken time I was experiencing, she offered me some sessions. During the 1st session something like a “Reminding” happened inside my Body. On the 2nd session, a river of crying-connecting with my inners cape of Centering, expelled violently (a bit scary for me as I was practicing very strongly my ‘ZEN’ attitude, not allowing to myself and anybody watch my pain). I left her futon being surprised with this opening of expansive self-expression. An inner talk started that moment: ….. I whispered to myself: This you are going to learn one day!!

On 1996 I attended my first Shiatsu training with my Spiritual Teacher Maria Charlet (she is from Belgium and she introduced Shiatsu on 1974 in Greece). I ended my business of bookshop, photographer, etc. and moved back to Athens. I was 35 years old and I started Beauty Expert studies, Wellness modalities and very soon I started working. I had a very busy career in SPA’s and Wellness leading various departments and meeting a huge amount of people for 10 years. During those years I was travelling for spiritual development to South America, I stopped Kung Fu practice and kept only my Qi Gong practice. One day and after a significant loss of a very beloved person, I decided to resign from this kind of life and follow my deep willingness for relief of human pain.

Where did you start your training? (Were there already Shiatsu schools in Greece at that time?)
I started in 1996 where I attended my first course in Shiatsu and I started studying my Spiritual’s teacher healing approach in Shiatsu and Energy Work in Chakras energetics and Sound and Crystal Therapy. Then I decided to attend the 3 years studies in an accredited Shiatsu School in Athens department of European Shiatsu School in UK. Those times there were 3 Shiatsu Schools in Athens. I met and trained by the 3 different teachers and their styles in Zen Shiatsu. Then I followed many CPD workshops mainly with Cliff Andrews and UK Shiatsu College teachers and cooperated with Annie Cryar in Qi Gong and Yoga Retreats she was running in a Greek island every summer. I am grateful for all of them that put a seed in my own path with their energy and skills. So far, I continue to attend seminars that inspire me and resonate with my growth.

And how did it come to the foundation of the “Hellenic Shiatsu Center”? Did you run the school full time – as if it was your main occupation?
I don’t have any school but I give workshops for personal and professional development. Also since 2011 I invite teachers from abroad to Greece for teaching different objectives. I am involved with Hellenic Shiatsu Society (I answer below about it).

Dear Antigoni, you have been teaching Shiatsu for many decades – is there a focus, a special passion for a subject?
My focus is that we are a triangle existence Body, Soul, Spirit interacting with all and in many dimensions. We might know many techniques, admirable skills of hands on work but without Love is like we have the last model electric heating machine and there is not electricity to put it on. So, everybody of us might cultivate, develop oneself for being able to transmit the “reuma” of Light and Love through our own system to the others. Last 8 years I am trainee in Focusing Professional and Trauma. We cannot talk about care and relief of human suffering without acknowledges of this cause. Talking about Trauma is part of our era and I found out that behind conflictions, mental health or somatic disorders like a common template is in fact, Trauma. I am focused in the wisdom of Trauma and how somatic therapy can unfold the potential power of self-healing. I keep on exploring the inners capes of the Body. It is a spiritual multidimensional entity that is holding all, like imprints of a long way. Nothing can be revealed if it is not ready for it, if it is not the right time for it. We, as therapists and during our practice, have to be prepared for this kind of process in an effortlessly kind manner for the unknown, the unexpected with trust, ready to listen and be aware. Through these qualities we can create a state of safety for us and our receivers. Being resilient is our own process as Shiatsu therapists sharing Life Compassion.

A healing process is a Relationship – a Relationship is a healing process and Love we don’t express is the pain that is following us.

A SHIATSUSELF is growing up and becoming aware of a Shiatsu attitude in Life. It is a continuous living process between me and me, me and the receiver, me and the world.
Interaction is first… as Eugene Gendlin a philosopher; psychotherapist and founder of Focusing said it simply. Proves that nothing is stable, everything is moving forward to the next right direction The Body knows, the Soul listens, the Spirit lives and in unity this sanctuary triangle synthesis guide us!!

It is a continuously developing relationship, an interaction, a resonance, an open meeting in a limitless and timeless space…where you have to find the right distance with the ‘object’. We are mirroring our Body like a living process.

Can you tell us something about the development of the Shiatsu Association in Greece (year of, how many members, goal, importance…)
Hellenic Shiatsu Society (HSS) is a non-profit association founded in 2000 with the aim of developing, promoting and recognizing Shiatsu, as well as ensuring quality in its practice. It gives its members the opportunity to have a clear framework for the operation and practice of their subject. It also provides those interested in Shiatsu with better and more complete information.

The goals are to inform governmental and scientific bodies as well as the general public about Shiatsu as a health somatic modality. To encourage scientific research in relation with Shiatsu and for this direction we have a very active volunteer work in Public Hospitals at Pain Relief Departments (you can see more at Shiatsu Resources Worldwide site). To encourage the pro bono application of this treatment to specific or vulnerable groups.

I was President of Hellenic Shiatsu Society for 6 years and currently Vice President keeping my voluntary work with our society. Also, I am Representative of Greece in European Shiatsu Federation (ESF) last 8 years and editor in Shiatsu Resources Worldwide part of Shiatsu Without Borders of ESF that was shaped as a movement inside ESF during pandemic and an International Online meditation. I am very inspired by this project as beyond the differentiations of our communities, it promotes the spirit of successful Shiatsu stories around the world.

How long is the shiatsu training in Greece – how is it structured?
We follow the European standards of Shiatsu education. Mainly, we practice Zen Shiatsu and the amount of hours differentiates from school to school but every school adapts its own training program keeping the standard basis as member of Hellenic Shiatsu Society and European Shiatsu Federation.

What interests us: Is Shiatsu a recognized alternative healing method in Greece? Are costs for Shiatsu treatments covered or subsidized by health insurance? Are there areas of collaboration with western medicine? Are there clinics where shiatsu practitioners can work on a permanent basis?
In Greece we are not recognized as a complementary method but we can work under the label of Massage. Shiatsu is not regulated as a profession but we can be legal, paying taxes and having freelancer papers as massage therapists. This is the reason that Shiatsu treatments are not covered by health insurance as many other modalities of preventive health, except the academic license of physiotherapist. We believe very much in collaborating with western medicine and this is the reason that very early HSS supported shiatsu practice in Pain Relief Department in Aretaion Public Hospital, lately in Ippokrateion Public Hospital Pain Relief Department and recently we are connecting with Palliative Care Federation for expanding our volunteer work in pain relief.

What is the situation of networking among shiatsu practitioners in Greece? Do you have annual events where you meet each other?
Every year in October we celebrate Shiatsu as a Month of Awareness. HSS organizes or supports events and practitioners make their own events in different places and areas of Greece. During the year we have meetings of exchanging sessions among the members for empowering and supporting our practice and on line events with specific subjects that make an interest among our members and friends of Shiatsu. Also, we participate at ESF’s annual events as a country-member.

What is your personal plan with Shiatsu – do you think you will ever stop practicing Shiatsu? (According to German ideas you have already reached retirement age ;-))
I am 62 years old but I feel young and yes, I feel that I will never stop practicing Shiatsu. For me, Shiatsu is an Art of Living and my style of living. That might sound like an overwhelming state of mind but what I mean is that even if I will not practice as a professional Shiatsu therapist I will keep on living, acting, breathing as Shiatsu person always using my hands on creating the magic Touch-Connection with a human soul. Shiatsu with all its expansions of mindset, styles, healing approach, and way of living is a spiritual family or tribe and a part of my being. I have a romantic love with it. This ancient wisdom is a realm that is alive secretly, visibly and invisibly. Shiatsu is Life!! I still feel like in the beginning when I started studying it!!

In September you will teach at the European Shiatsu Congress in Switzerland. What will you present there?
European Shiatsu Congress in beautiful Kiental has the title and the meaning that I am very enthusiastic and involved. Mirror of Being!!! Such a meaningful way that reflects to our practice!!

As I noticed above whatever techniques or skills we have or gained through our training years, always there is a core of these skills. This core has to do with where we come from. What is our intention to practice? What kind of expectations we have. How much effective we want to be, how present we can be. We need to transcend these obstacles of ‘low’ ego. We have to find that state of presence with qualities-metaskills that can promote the healing process.

Last 8 years I am practicing Focusing as Life Skill and I am at Professional Trainee state, very much influenced as therapist personally and professionally. Since the very beginning I experienced the more self-empathy I have, the more resilient I am. I introduce Developing Focusing as a Metaskill in Shiatsu and Energy Work and I integrate to my practice and teaching. In ESC I will apply some of the steps. We will explore experientially through embodying listening, the right distance for finding the Sense of a Safe place inside. And from that state of being we can find the symbol of Shiatsu Self. Then we can accompany our clients to feel at home, this gentle warm effortless atmosphere where they can unfold their parts that are ready to be healed at their own time.

Relating from our Embodied Self we meet our authenticity and give unconditional acceptance to our clients. It is a multi-task demanding practice and our psychosomatic resilience for giving care to others can be effective or transmitive through our self-empathy. I cannot give compassion if I have not experienced the ‘listening’ to myself. I create a non-judgmental environment where acceptance of ‘what it is’ can be revealed in a nonverbal level. But this state fades out when we keep on practicing with an active mindset which expects or guides with effort.
The Body Knows if it feels safe or not beyond our mindset. As Dr. Porges says in Polyvagal Theory, it is a matter of Neuroception about this safety. And there…the healing process begins. There the Spirit is alive. Our Shiatsu skills then will mirror our compassion.

Last 8 years I am practicing Focusing as Life Skill and I am very influenced in my process as therapist personally and professionally. In Kiental I will apply some of the steps of this Life Skill and make experiential exploration with the audience of embodying listening and find the symbol of Shiatsu Self. There are qualities that can enrich our being as therapists but mainly help us to apply our skills with a resilient body mind. I believe the way to acknowledge and be aware and then understand the Body that is holding all has to have a meaningful inner travel. Then we can bring our clients to feel at home, this gentle warm effortless atmosphere where they can unfold their own way to be healed at their own time.

ME… how it is… how it could be this ME… to acknowledge different parts of me, to communicate better, make contact with no violence, listen with an empathic way, giving time for this that is not known yet, creating space, I establish or develop my inner relationship with and through the Body Mind and all dimensions of it…

There are qualities that can enrich our being as therapists but mainly help us to apply our skills with a resilient body mind. I believe the way to acknowledge and be aware and then understand the Body that is holding all has to have a meaningful inner travel.