I just got back from the Esalen Institute. This was my first time and I totally recommend it. As you may recall, Esalen, in Big Sur, California is considered the birthplace of modern American massage. When you’re there, you can almost feel the presence of ida Rolf who did her earliest trainings here and Fritz Perls, the founder of Gestlalt psychotherapy. Here you can still experience the teaching of Dr. Fritz Smith, MD who I assisted last week in a Zero Balancing class. Fritz has been attending Esalen since 1968! And the hot springs at Esalen are world-famous – a complete bodymind treat.
But what I want to tell you about is what I learned there. There were just a few things that can turn an average massage into one of the best massages in the world.
I’ve written in our Alumni Newsletter about our opportunity as therapists to continually improve our anatomy knowledge which will only strengthen our skills and the benefit to our clients.
In addition to building your anatomy skill, take a significant history. How can you do a great job, if you don’t take the time to get to know the client and their history?
I loved my time at Esalen and came away reflecting on the need for a significant intake – one that goes far beyond the standard “Do you have pain anywhere?” Get to know your client’s history and story. It is with that knowledge you can create a massage of healing for each client, each time.
This underscored for me what we talk about when we teach about the seven dimensions of touch here. The dimension of UNDERSTANDING is so important. It is wonderful to receive caring, nurturing touch – but the clients need also to feel your desire and enthusiasm to understand them, to be truly helpful, to detect and address the specific causes and effects of their physical pain, tension and stress.
People want to be cared for and, often equally deeply, they want to be understood, to be truly heard.
Take a history. Give the person the gift of understanding!