Johanna and I just finished a five-day seminar at Esalen, “Mastery of Deep Bodywork: Working with Difficult Cases”. We selected three models from a number of applicants to work on during the course of the week, monitoring their progress as each received a series of three sessions of this work. Two of our cases presented with a history of traumatic injury, chronic pain, and other complications. The third presented with progressively worsening hip and knee pain due to sports related trauma. Difficult case seminars always present a challenge to Johanna and myself as practitioners and teachers, because our models either respond to our work or they don’t. If they improve under the influence of Deep Bodywork, then the benefits of this approach become obvious. If they don’t improve, standing in front of a large group of students with high expectations can be humbling.

Fortunately, our three models responded quite well to our work in very different ways: The individual with sports related injuries demonstrated a greatly improved range of motion in her hip joint as a result of Deep Bodywork. Another, who had received multiple spinal fusion surgeries and had been in a body-cast for six years of her life due to a severe scoliosis, re-learned how to breath freely after we worked extensively with her ribs and shoulders. The third model re-discovered his capacity to recognize and articulate boundaries in relationship to his own “bodily felt-sense”. He had lost this capacity due to a history of trauma in his life that had left him unable to discriminate between pain that was constructive (e.g. tissue healing; circulation returning, etc.), and pain that was destructive ( he reported having lived with a broken wrist for 6 months before having it looked at, indicating an overly developed capacity to compartmentalize pain in a manner not supportive of his own healing.) The whole class moved to a place of deep connectedness as our models spoke of the daunting personal challenges they faced in their lives as a result of their conditions.

Johanna commented at the end that this group had a lot to do with the heart, as we were all moved by the openness and vulnerability our models experienced as they progressed through this work.

We were supported by a great faculty of trained Deep Bodywork practitioners, Paul (Reynolds) Wehrman, Rob Wilkes, and Dano Rowley. We feel blessed to have the professional support that these skilled practitioners bring to our seminars, and highly recommend their work to those visiting Esalen (Rob Wilkes is regularly on the books here), Santa Barbara (Paul Wehrman has a practice there), and Long Beach (where you can look Dano up). Their contact information is available on the practitioner’s page of this website. We look forward to seeing one or two of them again at our “Healing Art of Deep Bodywork” seminar at Esalen from January 9-14, “Opening the Chest, Freeing the Breath, and Healing the Neck”. We look forward to seeing you there too!

Perry and Johanna