Healing, helping hands at Edgewater retreat By Oona Woods "People in Whistler and Pemberton work very hard. We need something like this for locals." That’s Karin Cruickshank of The Coast Meridian Shiatsu group, which is putting on a series of retreats — "Days of healing," she calls them — at the Edgewater Lodge. The retreats encompass a variety of Eastern medicines and techniques, including aromatherapy, shiatsu message and energy stretches. "The retreat experience enlightens, invigorates and gives us insight into the incredible healing potential within each of us," explains Cruickshank. The retreats will give participants an opportunity to practice therapeutic exercises, breathing techniques and bodywork as well as your more common or garden activities of hiking, horse riding and canoeing. As well as getting away from it all and getting in touch with your mind-body energy fields the program attempts to provide an opportunity for people to experience in-depth Shiatsu. Shiatsu can be broken down as "Shi" meaning finger and "Atsu" meaning pressure in Japanese. This practice of "acupuncture without needles," seeks to heal imbalances in the body by freeing up blocked energy channels. Oriental diagnosis of the body's problems views both the physical and mental aspects of a person as well as the troubled areas. "Traditional Oriental Medicine maintains that in order for our natural healing powers to keep our bodies in balance our 'life energy' or 'ki' must flow smoothly," says Cruickshank. "When we are in balance, our ki flows without interruption in and around the major pathways, or 'meridians' throughout our body, which nourishes our organs, muscles and cells. Shiatsu is used to restore the flow of energy, which improves both the physical and emotional aspects of our bodies." There are all kinds of different applications of Oriental teachings to bring to bear on their subjects. Along with the Shiatsu they use facial diagnosis which reads elements of the face and relates them to physiology. For instance your forehead relates to your intestines and liver, while your nose represents your heart and lines under your eyes depict the conditions of your kidneys. CMS also use 9 Star Ki, which is a form of Chinese astrology that predicts which organs and areas will be strong in a person born at a particular time. Someone born in 1970 is a 3 Bright Green Tree who may be prone to problems with immune deficiency while a 2 Black Soil person (born in 1971) may find they have trouble with arthritis. No stone is left unturned as exercises are employed to help strengthen individual weak organs with stretches that focus on the body's meridians. Diet is also included as Cruickshank is a macrobiotic consultant. Her nutritional advice relates less to calorie counts than to the balancing and energizing qualities of certain foods. Cruickshank says that an example is Burdock which helps people with digestive and intestinal problems. "(They) would benefit from harvesting Burdock, a native plant to the area of Pemberton and then preparing Burdock into a delectable dish of stew, condiment or like french fries. The results are immediate. It is the most powerful blood cleanser and intestinal cleanser I have ever found, and at the same time it strengthens the intestinal system." As well as receiving her accreditation as a Chinese Doctor Cruickshank has been practising Shiatsu for 15 years and teaching for the last seven years. She has recently finished teaching Whistler's first 1,000 hour certification course and her graduates can be found at locations all over town, including the Chateau. She is joined in this program by Jen Jackson a Kinesiology graduate from the University of Waterloo and recent graduate of Cruickshank's Shinzen Shiatsu school.