Many thanks to all of you who responded to our request for a 2nd model for our upcoming class. We now have 2 models who present unique challenges for the advanced bodyworker seeking advanced knowledge on how to manage and possibly heal the challenges of chronic pain and movement limitation. One of our cases has great difficulty in the area of the cervical spine, the other is contending with chronic, deep hip pain resulting from a climbing accident which fractured the tibia and fibula requiring surgery. We look forward to seeing you in February!
Here is a link to a short article I wrote for the Esalen Newsletter on how to deal with acute and chronic pain both as a bodywork practitioner and as anyone experiencing this very common, often debilitating experience. Separating fear from the actual experience of pain is the key!
Johanna applies the principle of “the shoulder loop” (stabilizing the the head of the humerus in the glenoid fossa of the scapula) to the practice of Esalen Massage and Deep Bodywork. Working with proper body mechanics lessens the risk of injury, and allows the body to become a conduit both for gravitation, as well as “chi-energy”. Working in this way is not only more effective in terms of the results we will see with our clients, but also is nourishing to the body of the practitioner.
Johanna demonstrates yoga poses in this post which help massage practitioners understand how to stabilize and strengthen the shoulder joint. The shoulder is one of the most frequently injured areas of the body in bodyworkers who are working full time, and often on clients who outweigh them. In this and Johanna’s next post, she demonstrates proper body mechanics of the shoulder while working. She demonstrates some simple poses which if practiced properly, can add strength, flexibility and awareness to your bodywork practice.
In part I of this article, I recounted my discussion with a physicist I had the good fortune to meet after having worked on a member of his family at Esalen’s Carmel office. We talked about the interconnectedness within the basic fabric of our universe, a fact which quantum theory describes mathematically, and has been demonstrated experimentally. This fact has radical implications for our theoretical understanding about the nature of reality itself. As I wrote in part I, confirmed by my physicist friend, matter, energy, space, time, and mind are interwoven into an unbroken wholeness. Anyone involved in the healing arts needs to consider the relational nature of our universe and it’s component parts as we assess our work and it’s effect on both our clients and ourselves. Following are a few details which get a bit heady, but are crucial to understand in order to grasp the above ideas. Please bear with me while I try to explain them clearly.
In 1964, an Irish physicist named John Stewart Bell became interested in a debate between Danish physicist Niels Bohr, and one of the 20th centuries’ most brilliant minds, Albert Einstein. At issue was a peculiar aspect of quantum theory called ‘quantum entanglement”. Quantum entanglement involves the interaction of sub-atomic particles. When they interact, they become “entangled”. Einstein’s dilemma was his attachment to a universe made up of ordinary objects. Quantum theory as a whole, and quantum entanglement in particular, demonstrates that the objects we perceive as normal with our five senses are hardly normal at all. Objects that have become “entangled” respond to changes in each other’s state instantaneously, across space and time at faster than light speeds. This occurs no matter how far apart they are. Quantum entangled particles of light on opposite sides of our galaxy literally sense, instantaneously, shifts experienced by the other. Einstein spent a great deal of time trying to prove, through a famous thought experiment called the EPR experiment, that this “non-local, faster than light” aspect of quantum theory had to be wrong. Bohr was convinced that any notion of “ordinary objects” was absurd. Quantum theory demonstrates that “objects” come in and out of being, moment to moment, according to quantum probabilities represented by waveforms. Non-local, faster than light relationships are a curious feature of a theory representing a reality based on the rules of quantum probability. Einstein, convinced that some “hidden variable” had yet to be discovered to complete quantum theory, uttered the famous phrase “god does not play dice” to express his distaste for this feature of quantum theory. John Bell entered the fray to settle a central question in this debate: is the universe a collection of discreet, separate parts, related by “local forces” only, like gravitation, electro-magnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces, or is there a “non-local” interconnecting web, capable of faster than light signaling as suggested by quantum theory? To make a long, very complex story short, Bell discovered a mathematical proof that demonstrated reality to be non-local, as suggested by quantum theory. In 1972 at the University of California, Berkeley, and again in 1982 at the University of Paris, what is now known as Bell’s Theorem was experimentally verified. It means that we live in an interconnected universe which responds to changes anywhere in it’s web instantaneously, at faster than light speed (enormously faster).
All of this was information I was familiar with, and had pondered deeply over many years. In my conversation with my new physicist friend, he said something which made me look at all of this from a deeper perspective. It was truly a “click, light goes on” moment in my thinking. What he said was: “At the dawn of time, when the universe was born in the Big Bang, everything was quantum entangled. All of the matter, energy, and space created in that process is inextricably linked, forever. The atoms making up your body, and the hydrogen in the cores of distant stars sense each other at a level that is so subtle most people never experience it. Our minds are made up of the same stuff, and have the capacity for self-awareness. A part of their nature is the reality of quantum interconnectedness. It is possible to directly experience that. It creates a feeling of the human mind being connected to a greater living, self-organizing intelligence. I think this experience is what some people call god.” Wow! My mind was totally blown at that point, so blown that as they left, I forgot to ask him his name.
I ask myself the question if quantum interconnectedness is in some way involved with the intuitive capacity to empathically connect with our client’s in a way which can be therapeutically beneficial. Watching Milton Traeger work at Esalen in 1979, it was clear to me that he had this capacity. It is a capacity that can be learned, and taught. As I have stated in previous blog posts, slowing down, and allowing sensing and feeling to become primary in our field of awareness are keys. Providing our students with opportunities to practice developing these capacities is an important part of our work as teachers, if our intention is to train practitioners of the healing arts, rather than “massage technicians”. (I’ve always disliked that term.)
On a final note, some people are convinced that the experience my physicist friend was describing is one of “the divine”, or god. Others, like myself, believe that the universe is possibly a living, learning, ever evolving process, integrating into some kind of “meta-intelligence”. This meta-intelligence might be the sum total of all intelligent beings and processes existing within the boundaries of this universe. Quantum interconnectedness may be an organizing, connecting factor, which makes it possible for seemingly disconnected processes and individuals to intuitively connect. We can never know for certain which explanation fits the facts most neatly. Even a scientific explanation requires a great deal of faith. The following comment, from an old friend, on my “Therapeutic Aggravation” post points to the issue quite clearly:
“…well put and supported Per..at what point does a correction become divine healing..I know you’ve been there and have witnessed it. How do you know as the manipulator when the healing touch becomes divine ? you know me never an easy question…” les
Great question Les. I can only speculate as to the answer.
I’ve gotten a lot of feedback that this massage video expresses the qualities I described in my 2 blog posts “Healing Physiological Effects of Esalen Massage”. We shot this 2 years ago during our monthlong certification class at Findhorn, where we will be again from June 25th to July 23rd. Hope everyone enjoys!
For more information about the monthlong course, click here.
Today, I had the pleasure of working with a mother and her daughter, on this day before mother’s day, with a colleague of mine at Esalen’s Carmel office. I noticed they had a bit of a southwestern accent as they spoke, and as we talked, they told me they were on vacation from Dallas, Texas. They were with a very unassuming gentleman who, as it turned out, had spent time on the California coast throughout his adult life. Interestingly, I made a number of assumptions about who they were without knowing them at all, like:
-He works in the oil industry
-Receiving massage is a part of “the California experience”
-They probably feel like they’ve landed on a strange planet
-They are most likely very conservative, etc.
After I finished my work, I had a moment to sit and chat with this gentleman, who revealed that his trip had a deeper purpose: To sit in Ed Ricketts’ laboratory in what is now Cannery Row in Monterey, because of his deep admiration for his holistic approach to science. He then told me that as a physicist, he understood the science behind the interconnectedness of all elements composing our universe. He also discussed his deep admiration for empirical scientists like Ricketts, who well before modern physics had proven that all things are interconnected, intuited this fact and was able to study the ocean’s ecosystems from this perspective. He cited poet Robinson Jeffers, and writer John Steinbeck as artist-philosophers grasping the same intuition as Ricketts. He then said how much it meant to him to simply be on the same piece of earth, Carmel, California, that had meant so much to these men he held in such high esteem.
At this point, I was completely mind-blown by the depth and breadth of knowledge of this unassuming person. I was also hoping our massages had been good enough to keep our clients asleep for 5-10 minutes, so that I could pick the brain of this very brilliant man. This is where it got very interesting! About thirty years ago, I made a trip to Brasil to visit healers getting extraordinary results via means not explicable through the physics that Isaac Newton described, nor through any science that I was familiar with. I became interested, as a bodyworker, in what explanations of reality might be behind the procedures I witnessed, and the results which I observed. I was introduced to the ideas of Quantum-Relativistic physics, which describe a universe containing interconnectedness as a fundamental feature. Mind, furthermore, is interconnected with, not separate from, matter and energy. On the basis of this knowledge, I began to ask myself the following questions:
-If everything that exists within this universe is interconnected, from the gross (matter and energy) to the subtle (processes of mind), can an intelligent being learn to focus mind in such a way that focused interactions of mind, matter, and energy become possible?
-Might something like that be what I was witnessing in the hands of the healers in Brasil?
-As a professional bodyworker, how does my inner state influence the quality of my work, and are the remarkable results I have witnessed in the sessions of master bodyworkers (Milton Traeger comes to mind) a result of their ability to focus mind in such a way that matter and energy respond in a self-organizing manner?
As a teacher of bodywork, these questions are of crucial importance in regard to how we train our students. Far too many schools emphasize a mechanical approach only to massage technique, which leaves little room for developing our students’ grasp of the intuitive side of this work. Since quantum theory demonstrates mathematically that everything within the boundaries of our universe, whether it be mind, matter, or energy, is interconnected, shouldn’t our methods for educating people about the nature of touch reflect that deeper reality? I will leave you to ponder that question, and apply it also to your work with clients in your private practices. Where do mechanical and intuitive approaches blend, and support each other in elevating the quality of our client’s lives? What is the role of training the mind through self reflective and meditative practices such that the interconnected fabric of this universe actually becomes palpable to us as we touch? Is it possible to develop that capacity, and is it then possible to teach?
In part two, I will recall more of my discussion with my physicist friend as I posed these questions to him.I will also discuss how some physicists view the universe itself as an intelligent, ever learning, evolving, and literally living process.
All the best to everyone!