Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Community Service

Caitlin gives chair massage to a generous donor at Stuff The Bus
At Rocky Mountain Institute of Healing Arts, students have a class called "Community Service." It's a 25 hour independent study course (our only independent study--everything else is on-site and supervised) and entails development and implementation of a plan of service to our communities. The school regularly gets calls from local non-profits who want massage therapy for their fundraisers, special events, etc. On November 22, 2008, a local radio station coordinated Stuff the Bus--an event where a school bus was brought to the Wal Mart parking lot to receive non-perishable food donations. The donations were given to the local food bank and other organization for feeding people during the holidays. RMIHA students were on hand to give chair massages to people who donated cash and food to the bus. It was a great time where the students honed their chair massage skills and gave back to the community. We had fun together and helped make the day a success.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Announcing the World Summit for Humanity, Durango, CO


World Summit for Humanity

—Empty Your Mind, Fill Your Heart—

Organizers announce a one day conference in Durango, CO to benefit humanity

After watching Dalai Lama Renaissance, Kristi Miller and Rebecca Mauldin were inspired to bring together a group of individuals from various backgrounds and life experiences to participate in a World Summit for Humanity. The event will take place on Sunday, November 2, 2008 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The purpose of the World Summit for Humanity is for participants to recognize and ignite their ability to be world leaders and to choose--through consensus--an action that each group member will support and participate in after the summit.

The summit will provide opportunities for each participant to explore the fears, desires, and needs that drive their relationship to the world and its people. Participants will be asked to detach from preconceived ideas and beliefs and instead, operate from the heart as they explore possibilities for acting in service to humanity. They should be prepared to find common ground among the group of potentially diverse individuals, and select and participate in an action to serve the world's people.

Registration
Applications, registration details and information about future events are available through the Rocky Mountain Institute of Healing ArtsRegistration is limited to 20 people. Please register soon! To help offset expenses, we are asking for a $10 registration fee. However, no one will be excluded from participation due to inability to pay.

Requirements:
Desire for world service
Willingness to let go of at least one belief about the issues of the world
Willingness to hold the beliefs of others in your heart
Willingness to commit to taking the chosen action after the summit

For more information, to register, or to support the World Summit for Humanity, please contact Rebecca Mauldin
by phone: (970) 385-5142
by email: rebecca@instituteofhealingarts.com

We invite you to forward this email to anyone you think may be interested.
Thank you, Rebecca & Kristi

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Busy Lives

Making the most of break-time!

The new day class has completed 4 weeks of the program and I am sure they are feeling full of information and experiences--learning massage, doing homework, studying new vocabulary, connecting with new friends, and juggling life's experiences. I, too, am finding myself busy with all sorts of aspects of school and life.

One of the most satisfying things in my life lately has been connecting with RMIHA graduates. We have a page on Ning (http://massageschool.ning.com/) and grads have been posting there as well as emailing and calling me. Heidi P from the very first class we ever had came to visit last weekend. She's now living and practicing in Santa Fe and her brillant, sparkling energy is as vibrant as ever. Nancy is days away from having her 3rd child; Crissy weeks away from having her first. Kristi's getting ready to move to Hawaii. Jeremy's getting married in January in Mexico.

While we slog along in our everyday lives, worrying about the economy, our practices, and our normal everyday concerns, miracles and connections are happening around us. I think practicing massage therapy is a foundation for remembering the amazing gift of life we have and share with one another. The simple act of touching each other reminds us of the importance of our connections.I am blessed with knowing all the students who've made their way through our doors. We find common ground of life's ups and downs and remain attached to one another through it all.

Life can get hectic, but there's always the relational aspect of it to pull us through.

Rebecca

Friday, September 12, 2008

Massage School Graduate--Interview with Crissy Williams

Crissy Williams graduated from massage school and energy healing school at the Rocky Mountain Institute of Healing Arts in June of 2008. I recently asked Crissy some questions about becoming a massage therapist and she was willing to share our conversation with you.

Rebecca: Why did you want to become a massage therapist?
Crissy:
To be honest, I was never really sure that I wanted to become a massage therapist. It was never that clear for me. Instead, I spent a long time mentally catalouging attributes and knowledge that I admired in others--things that I wanted to call my own. I was lucky enough to have a few women in my life who repeatedly shared with me their knowledge of the body and recognition of its ability to manifest emotional challenges. Throughout various stress related conditions, from chronic infections to actually losing my hair, these women always had suggestions or solutions to offer. Yoga, breathing excercizes, meridean points, mantras, even a few massage treatments. These wise women seemed familiar with a world that I found both mysterious and endlessly intruiging. A world with "chakras" and "energy", a world where people recognize the toll that busy life takes on the body and spirit, a world where people are advocates of their own health and well being. This world, or body of knowledge, was ultimatley appealing to me. It sparked an chord in me that felt like deep unquestionable truth; I wanted to know more. Unfortunatley, I had no idea how or where a person learned these things, nor had I heard of a career path in which these practices were used.

Previously in life had come to the conclusion that if I could have it my way, my career would be as a "proffesional friend". To me, that is what these women had embodied-- support when I was in a weakend and vulnerable state. They had stepped in as someone who could teach me how to take better care of myself, and by the radiance in their smiles it was obvious that they applied this knowledge to themselves. I had no idea how they had gotten to where they were, but I knew it was somewhere I wanted to be.

Rebecca: How did you choose your massage school?
Crissy: It was a grand and exciting moment for me when I realized a person may actually be able to go to school to learn about natural health. This may sound funny, but in 20 years of life it had never occured to me before that there were schools out there to teach a person about "energy" and "healing". Having grown up in a very small and isolated Southeast Alaskan town, I had never been exposed to this type of educational possibility. I remember feeling positivley giddy when I sat down on a computer and first googled "natural healing". I was even more excited to find there were many school out there that offered various courses in body-based knowledge. I sent my adress to many schools asking for more information, but I only recieved one catalog. At the time I thought it a fluke that I had entered my address incorrectly to every school but the Rocky Mountain Institute of Healing Arts, but now I know it was no mere coincedence. This school had everything that I had wanted. Rigorous academics, intensive hours, small classes, varied topics of study. There were 2 things that really stood out for me about the Rocky Mountian Institute of Healing Arts. One, they offered a combined massage therapy/Heartworks program in which a person could learn about the physical and energetic body. This was my chance to learn what the heck a chakra was and how work with energy. Two, the school had an intimate feeling. I could tell it was a place where things were noticed and addressed, where I would be challenged to open my heart and break down emotional walls that I had learned to hide behind. I had been told my whole life that I was "over-sensitive" and I felt at this school I would be heard and empowered for what I saw in the world and in other people, not condemned. I chose this school becuase it seemed equally a place for personal and spiritual growth as professional training.

Rebecca: What stands out most for you in your massage school experience?
Crissy:
What stands out for me the most is the process I went through in order to get to know myself. If someone had told me before hand that I didn't know who I was, or what it felt like to live in my body, I wouldn't have believed them. There are things that we avoid in ourselves; experiences we have stored away in the "can't deal with this" file, recurring feelings that are unpleasant and also unexplained. During massage school I was led these forbidden corners of my psyche, and was given the support and tools to begin some long overdue sorting and recognizing. I was introduced to my super-ego, not my favorite character but an incredibley important contact in becoming aware of the workings of my mind, and finally putting a name to that ever self-critical voice. I was re-introduced to my body, to places that I had quit feeling and loving becuse I had been too busy criticizing. Massage school started me along a life long path of discovering and uncovering my true self--and this stands out for me everyday, in every relationship, in every moment.

Rebecca: What advice do you have for students in massage school?
Crissy: Stay on the pill until you are done with atleast 3/4 of the massage program. : ) HA!

My advice for prospective students would be to try your best to abandon your expectations. This is something that is especially hard for me, and therefore all the more important. So many of us talk about having an "open mind", but what doesn that really mean to us? By letting go of expectations for your massage school experience, you allow yourself to truly take in what is being offered to you in the moment and to let your heart guide you through the journey. I am not talking about letting go of academic or ethical expectations of the establishment. I just mean to be gentle with the expecations that we carry of ourselves and our relationship to massage therapy. You may spend nine months in massage school to conclude that massage therapy is just a stepping stone towards a different field of study. Perhaps practicing massage will open up an internal world that you had not anticipated and is now insisting that you take time to attend to and heal yourself. There are ups and downs, days you doubt your abilities and days you feel like a total badass. Take it all in. Let it be what it is. And don't beat yourself up if you end up going a direction you did not forsee.

Rebecca: Now that you are a professional massage therapist, what is you experience in the profession?
Crissy: My experience in the profession is different everytime I lay hands on another human being. The energy of a session varies so wildly, from strange to smooth, from tiring to envigorating, dreamy to electric. One thing that seems to hold true, it is almost always profound. There are many experiences I have as a massage therapist, but what feeds me the most in my practice is the power of compassion. There are so many sources in the world (both on a personal and a global scale) of pain and trauma, so many "big" issues, mountains of problems that leave us feeling miniscule and irrelevant in their shadow. I dont know, as one human being, how to tackle these attrocities, or even to accept them. Massage therapy is an outlet for me to give compassion to the planet, through individuals. Its like people come to me and their bodies say, "I'm so tired. I've been working so hard. Life isn't easy," and through touch I can say back, "I know. I see how hard you are trying. Maybe this will help you feel better." Massage therapy is a profession where it is your business to provide comfort through touch, and who are we to put boundaries around the possible outcomes? Practicing massage allows me to give something in the spirit of healing, growth, and love. I cannot think of a better job.

Massage Classes are Underway!!

Day 2 of class--New Friends!

Whew! It's been a long time since my last post and a very busy time indeed! The new session of the Daytime Massage Therapy Program began on Tuesday, and so far it's been great. The students feeling good about their group and the 9 months ahead. I'm grateful for the opportunity to work with another group of students making their dreams come true, and the teachers have a level of enthusiasm that's inspiring.

Mark (our Anatomy & Physiology teacher), has been getting together some great audiovisual materials for presentations, and Ryan and I have been exploring new ways to blend Katherine's meditation classes with Swedish Massage. We're underway and it feels great!

Rebecca

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Gospel of Sacred Touch--My Soapbox

I was recently asked why I do what I do, and instead of falling back on the same old reasons I've had for years, I decided to take the opportunity to do some soul searching.

I've always been sympathetic to activism, but never considered myself an activist. I'd like to see the end of wars and poverty and environmental degradation, but these causes have never drawn me into the fight. And it's not that I don't care deeply. Both as a child and an adult, I've literally been moved to tears at the sight of a smokestack dumping toxins into our air, the killing of our global brothers and sisters by violence, and the starving to death of children on this earth. Yet, I haven't made it my life's work to tackle these issues.

My life work is to touch (literally) other human beings and to teach others to touch too. In my recent soul searching, I re-discovered just how passionate I am about this. I know that touch can change a person's life. Being touched can connect a person to his own depths, to another person, or all beings in the cosmos. Being touched can bring a person to a place of stillness and peace, where she can realize her essential nature. Being touched with honor, love, and understanding can remind us of our inherent worthiness and basic goodness.

Wow.

Touching another human being is no small matter and I want to do my part to make sure that touch is given it's true status as a sacred art. Every person who lies on the massage table, regardless of what they've done in their life, is a spirit in a body that can be reached with touch. I have no idea how many massages or bodywork sessions are happening in the world in one given moment, but it has to be a lot. Imagine glowing balls of light and love pouring from the hands of all the therapists working throughout the world at this very moment. That's my vision.

And sadly, just as there are toxins pouring into our environment everyday, sometimes there is professional, healthcare-related touch that is fails to honor the client's body and soul. Sometimes it's because an otherwise conscientious massage therapist is having a bad day; sometimes it's because the therapist has an agenda to achieve a particular outcome; sometimes it's because the therapists or schools that taught them were motivated by things other than spreading the gospel of sacred touch :) and in the worst cases, there are people who are consciously harming clients through sexually inappropriate touch.

I know I can't do a lot about most of this, but I can do my part in making sure massage students are educated to revere the bodies, hearts, minds, and souls of everyone they touch. And I can try my best to approach every massage I give with reverence for my client's body, heart, mind, and soul. It's not always easy--for any of us--but it's worth trying.

That's what drives me. That's my quiet activism. That's why I do what I do.

Love to you,
Rebecca

© 2008, Rebecca Mauldin, All Rights Reserved

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Paying for Massage School

One of the biggest obstacles I see for people wanting to become massage therapists is paying for massage school. Tuitions alone run in the thousands, sometimes tens of thousands. Typically, tuition costs $9.00-$10.00 per contact hour. On top of tuition, students must find resources to cover related school expenses like books and supplies and pay for their living expenses while in school. Below are some ideas for funding your massage school experience.

  • Federal Financial Aid
    Some of the larger massage schools offer federal financial aid. This means their students are eligible for federally backed student loans. In order for schools to be eligible for federal funding, they must be accredited by a national accreditation organization. The fees for accreditation are expensive for the school and the staff time necessary to receive and maintain accreditation is also a big investment. This means that the smaller, more intimate massage schools usually are not nationally accredited. The last time I saw the statistics, less than 1/5 of massage schools offered federal financial aid. With the increasing corporatization of massage education, I’ll be curious to see if these numbers increase.

    The benefits of federal financial aid are that funding is more accessible and interest rates can be lower. Without federal financial aid, some students are unable to get loans at all. The downside about federal financial aid is that the schools that offer federal financial aid are often more expensive than those that don’t. I’ve seen federally funded schools cost as much as $20 per contact hour. Recent surveys indicate the average annual salary for massage therapy is about $25,000. At this rate of pay, repaying large student
    loans can be tricky.

    Other Student Loans
    There are non-federally backed student loans available. Students should check out student loans products carefully. I have seen some companies charge as much as 18% interest for non-federal student loans.

    Right now, one company I can recommend for this is SLM Financial. Their phone number is (888) 272-5543. They offer a Direct Career Training Loan product that your school may be able to help you with.

    Personal Loans
    For students with good credit and collateral, personal loans can help with tuition. Interest rates on personal loans are generally higher than on federally backed student loans, but personal loans can pay for schools that don’t qualify for federal funding. In addition to personal loans, home equity loans are a good option. The interest rates for home equity lines of credit can be lower than for personal loans.

    Other Resources
    When I started Rocky Mountain Institute of Healing Arts in 2001, I met with a representative of the Small Business Association (SBA) to discuss business loans. His recommendation was to look to, as he called it, “the Bank of Friends and Family” for financial backing. For some lucky massage students, The Bank of Friends and Family is a viable form of support.

    I remember a student whose grandfather helped each of his grandchildren with their college tuition. Her grandfather recalled the “massage parlors” of the past that were just a cover for prostitution and was not at all enthused about funding his granddaughter’s enrollment in massage school! The granddaughter took it upon herself to educate her grandfather about massage therapy as a career and healing modality. Somewhat hesitantly that he decided massage school could qualify as “college” for his assistance, but by the time she graduated, he was a convert.

    This approach of education and inclusion can be invaluable when a student is receiving financial support from a family member or friend. Parents or grandparents may want to contact the school’s administrative staff to discuss their educational programs or the field of massage therapy. If the student familiarizes him or herself with the financial potential of massage therapy and is realistic about employment opportunities, it can help assure family members who are considering giving financial support.

    Scholarships
    In reality, scholarships from massage school are difficult to locate and receive. I don’t intend to discourage anyone from looking for scholarships, but it’s important to realize that they are probably not the answer to massage school funding needs. At the time of publication, two organizations that offer massage school scholarships (The Spa Foundation and American Speciality Health), have postponed their scholarship programs. Libraries have scholarship books that list various scholarships; just ask the reference librarian for help. There are also websites that give information about scholarship opportunities.

    Savings
    In many years of working at massage schools and running my own, I have heard a lot of massage students’ stories. There are many stories of people who have wanted to go to massage school for years. They held onto their dream, saved money as they could, and attended school when the timing was right.

Being a massage therapy is very rewarding. I encourage anyone who wants to become a massage therapist to keep working toward the goal of massage school. The profession needs people who are passionate about it! Sometimes (most of the time?), what we’re passionate about takes dedication, patience, and hard work.

For those of you who have already gone to massage school or are currently attending, please leave your stories about paying for school in the comments of this post. It would be helpful for others who are in the process of looking right now!

© 2008, Rebecca Mauldin, All Rights Reserved

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Cellular Memory and Bodywork: A Couple of Stories

There's a lot of talk about cellular memory these days. I remember the first time I was aware of my body's capacity to house information. Before I went to massage school or understood the body in any way other than what I'd learned growing up in Southern Appalachia, I was in a car wreck. As part of my rehabilitation, someone suggested I try out Trager therapy. I hadn't even gotten a massage at this point in my life.

During one of my sessions, when the Trager therapist was working on my right ankle and I felt a rush of heat in my body and, though my eyes were closed, I saw a field of red. Afterward, I told my therapist about this and she said, "Oh, you must be storing some anger there." I immediately dismissed this notion. First of all, it seemed impossible that I could store an emotion anywhere in my body and second, I never felt angry, so this just couldn't be! (I had a lot to learn about anger!!)

A week later, the incident buried in my consciousness, I returned for another session. This time, as she began moving my ankle, I was filled with a feeling of rage. It lasted only a few moments before I experienced an incredibly vivid memory. The memory was very real--as if I was reliving the moment. In the memory, I was 5 years old and my parents were hosting a 4th of July party. Something (I didn't recall what) happened and that made me very angry. I took off running and ran down a steep portion of our yard. At the bottom, I landed wrong on my ankle and sprained it badly. I had not thought of this event in many years and was astounded at what had transpired as my ankle went through the gentle movements of the Trager session.

After that, I began to relate to my body in a new way. I was a believer in the concept of cellular memory.

In the first ever massage therapy class at RMIHA, one of our students did not have a sense of smell. She hadn't been able to sense smell for many years although she did not know why. One day, I was teaching neuromuscular therapy for the abdominals. This is such a sacred region of the body that I had prepped the students for being especially senstive. During the practice, the student who couldn't smell was receiving the treatment. She began to feel emotional and started crying. Her partner in the trade was a good friend and high school classmate, and he did a wonderful job just softly maintaining his touch without pushing any agenda. She couldn't understand why she was feeling such grief, but was willing to stay open to the experience.

All of a sudden, she smelled a strong smell of cigarette smoke. (At the time, she thought someone was smoking outside the window). Then came a memory of her grandmother when she was dying of lung cancer. Her grandmother had been a lifelong smoker and even at the end of her life, as she was using an oxygen machine, she continued to smoke. The student felt a lot of sadness with this memory. She had loved and missed her grandmother tremendously. She continued to let the feelings and tears flow. After a while, the emotions subsided and her trade partner finished of the session with some soothing and soft strokes.

After that massage session, her sense of smell returned and has remained since.

I believe our bodies are amazing. They are excellent guides to healing, not only physically, but also emotionally.

Please share your own stories of cellular memory and healing in the comments!

© 2008, Rebecca Mauldin, All Rights Reserved

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Interviewing New Students

A fun and wild ride together!

The next session at RMIHA starts September 9th, so it's that time of year when the applications are coming in and I am interviewing prospective students. The applicants don't really know what to expect out of the massage school experience, but they are full of enthusiasm for whatever it holds for them.

This is the staging phase for a wild ride together. I'm witnessing the arrival of the people who will make up the Day Class of 2009.

Soon, we'll be sitting in a circle for the first day of class. Most will be nervous, wondering if they will be accepted and liked, if they will do well in the program, if they will like their classmates and teachers. The first few weeks can be intimidating because there's so much to learn and get used to. We're all getting to know each other and it's a heady time.

For now, it's a one-on-one relationship. The applicants know me but not each other. I try to imagine what they will be like as a group and guess who will be friends. I may have some inklings, but I truly have no idea what will unfold. I am hopeful and anticipatory myself.

These interviews remind me why I'm in the business of educating massage therapists. I feel lucky to have found this place in the world. So here's a big thanks to the incoming students. I'm looking forward to teaching and learning from you this year.

Rebecca

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Spiritual Massage: The Video Version (for text version, see 7/27/08)

I've been busy putting together a video companion to the last post, Spiritual Massage: Suggestions for Receiving Sacred Bodywork and don't have new content for you in terms of a blog post. But I think you might like this video post. It's got some really nice photography and relaxing music (thanks to http://www.jamendo.com/ for the music; it's a great place to go for free--creative commons--downloads). So...I hope you enjoy the video!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Spiritual Massage: Suggestions for Experiencing Sacred Bodywork

Everything in life has a spiritual aspect, and receiving massage is no different. There are times, however, when a bodywork session seems particularly sacred and you feel as if you have transcended your ordinary material world and entered a special state. You connect with your essence and are immersed in a deep well of peace. You find restoration in being connected to the spirit – both personal and universal. In this sacred space, there is access to powerful resources of healing and transformation.

Experiences like this can’t be forced, yet there are conditions that support the flow of spiritual energy during the massage session. These include feeling safe, having a meditative object to focus on, and letting go of an expected outcome.

Possibly the most important condition is having a sense of safety. Feeling safe includes being listened to, having a sense of privacy, having confidence in the massage therapist, and feeling comfortable in the environment. Knowing that you are accepted and that the massage therapist can meet whatever arises with compassion and respect is also important.

In addition to feeling safe in the external environment, you need to feel safe on the inside. This means trusting your ability to handle pain and emotions, so that you can allow yourself to feel as fully as possible. Ironically, when you let go of your defenses against feeling what you fear is unpleasant, you open the door for spiritual connection.

During the massage, getting into a meditative state is helpful. Finding a massage therapist with a good quality of touch is a strong foundation for this. When the massage feels great, you have less mental distraction about the actual bodywork. The wonderful touch can become an object of concentration. If you find yourself caught up in thought, bring your awareness back to the physical sensations of the strokes. Watching the breath is also very helpful. It’s not necessary to force deep or slow breathing, in fact this, effort could detract from the experience. Just bring awareness to the breath and notice its flow in and out of the body.

Finally, let go of expectations or desires of actually achieving a “spiritual” massage. Allow it to be what it is. If you spend the massage striving to achieve something, you lose the opportunity to relax. By relaxing and doing nothing, you are actually just being. It’s in the moments of being that you can experience your Essence, where you are connected to your deep Self and everything in the universe. In your essence, you find everything you need, including clarity, strength, compassion, peace and joy.

Try using these suggestions the next time you receive bodywork. You just might find it divine!

© 2008, Rebecca Mauldin, All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Healing Power of Crystal Singing Bowls


From August 7th - 10th, Angela Vaughan-Clark will be teaching a Singing Bowls workshop at the Rocky Mountain Institute of Healing Arts. I asked her to write a guest post to describe her work.

I am very excited to share that I am about to give a ground breaking new class at the Rocky Mountain Institute of Healing Arts in Durango, Colorado. I feel that this class is ground breaking because it is the first time that I have partnered with a Massage School to offer information on the Singing Bowls.

After 25 years in the holistic field, and 12 years working with Singing Bowls, I can sincerely say this is the best knowledge available on the subject. I have personally experienced the outcome of taking the art of the Singing Bowls to previously undiscovered heights.

I have always known the incredible impact of utilizing the power of the Singing Bowls along with mind/body modalities. I will be teaching this knowledge to others against the gorgeous backdrop of Durango, Colorado.

Specifically, I will be letting the secret out about how the massage experience can be turned into a profound healing release when applying the Singing Bowl principles.

The vibrational sacred sound of the Singing Bowls assists the massage therapist is countless ways when working with the physical, mental, and emotional issues of their clients.

The sound alone is like a vacation on the table. Then you add the physical relaxation that comes along with the vibrational medicine created by the Singing Bowls and you have one happy client.

The Singing Bowls are a wonderful addition to a massage practice. They are easy to use but definitely have to be applied accurately to the situation. With correct training any massage professional can reap the numerous rewards offered by the beautiful Singing Bowls.

I am very excited about working in partnership with the Rocky Mountain Institute of Healing Arts. They are wonderful people and a whole lot of fun!

See you there ... August 7-10th!

Angela

Angela Vaughan-Clark
Singing Bowls Master Teacher/Practitioner

http://www.MassageBowls.com/rebecca.html

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Emotional and Spiritual Aspects of Receiving Massage

massage school experience,
When we are touched by another person, we can focus of the physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual aspects of the touch. The physical aspect of touch is usually pretty accessible. We’re used to experiencing the sensations of pressure, speed, pleasure or pain that accompany getting touched. For many of us, the mental qualities of our lives in general, not to mention touch, are very obvious. There’s the constant soundtrack of commentary going through our heads, even when we want to relax and have a massage or share a foot rub with a friend.

It can be much harder to be aware of the emotional and spiritual qualities of touch. Sometimes we compartmentalize these aspects of life. Emotions get relegated to talks with other people, sad movies, weddings, and extreme sports. Our spiritual lives are saved for church, temple, mosque, or the meditation cushion.

In spite of how we might tend to compartmentalize them, there’s no really no separation of the body, emotions, mind, and spirit in reality. This is great news because it points to using bodywork as a way to get “in touch” with our emotions and spirit.

As we receive touch, we can pay attention to the emotions that begin to surface. With just enough fortitude, we can meet these emotions with acceptance and even appreciation, allowing them to run their course. By being touched, we have an avenue for feeling what’s in us to feel. It’s a way to develop self-knowledge and authenticity. As an added bonus, when we allow the emotions to arise and run their course, we release them from our bodies and energy fields where they have been held, waiting for us to truly feel them.

Getting touched can open us into spiritual worlds as well. When we feel safe and are receiving bodywork from someone who is being present, we can notice our energy shift. We become connected to expansion and movement, united with something greater than ourselves, or aware of the qualities of our own essence as they arise. When we return to our ordinary state of consciousness, we may return with the awareness of peace, love, compassion, clarity, strength, or whatever else the touch opened up within us.

To explore the emotional and spiritual dimensions of massage or bodywork, find a therapist with maturity, experience, good boundaries, a non-judgmental attitude, and the ability to stay present throughout the massage experience. If you chose, discuss your intentions for the session and determine if the therapist feels like a good match for you. During the session, stay open to the possibilities without becoming attached to things turning out in any specific way. Allow yourself to have whatever experience you might have (even if it turns out to be a nap!) and welcome any rejuvenation or enlivenment that might occur. Enjoy!

© 2008, Rebecca Mauldin, All Rights Reserved

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Qualities of Touch: Physical, Emotional, Mental, and Spiritual

Touch: it’s one of our most basic needs and yet we usually don’t spend much time considering it. We know there’s a difference between “good touch” and “bad touch,” yet these terms are often limited to the discussion of sexually inappropriate touch. When we go to a master bodyworker, we sense that there’s something special about the quality of touch, but it can be hard to explain just what made it so special. It’s helpful to consider four aspects of touch—the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual—to understand what’s going on when we give and receive touch.
Physically, touch can run the gamut of experience from superficial or deep, fast or slow, smooth or abrupt, etc. Touch can have various physical effects on the recipient’s body. It can scratch the skin, break up scar tissue, dissipate or cause bruising, distribute oils, and activate endocrine or nervous system responses.

Emotionally, we can communicate feelings such as delight, surprise, anger, fear, and sadness through our touch. On the receiving end, emotions can arise in response to getting touched. For example, many people have experienced profound emotional releases while getting a massage.

Mentally, touch can be driven by our thoughts and beliefs. We can bring our intellectual knowledge of muscular anatomy to the way in which we touch another. We may notice our thoughts and beliefs driving how, why, or where we touch another-- such as in the “right” way to shake hands in a business setting. Just as emotions surface in response to receiving touch, so do thoughts and beliefs. We may notice judgments about our bodies, memories, or sudden insights arise when we are touched.

Spiritually, our touch can be fueled from our essential nature in ways that bring connection to our spirit and to another and emphasizes our union with all. We can bring essential qualities such as love, peace, compassion, strength, and clarity into the touch we give. Receiving touch can also connect us with our essential natures and with the ground of Being. During and after bodywork, recipients may feel expanded, peaceful, and connected. Obstructions to one’s true Self may be detected or transformed.

The next time you give or receive touch, notice what’s going on in each of these dimensions. Recognizing the various qualities of touch can empower you beyond the concepts of what feels “good” and “bad” to more fully meet your deepest needs in the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual realms.

© 2008, Rebecca Mauldin, All Rights Reserved

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Self Love: An Added Benefit of Massage School


Sometimes it's hard for me to convey how much of a difference massage school can make in a person's life. I got this thank you email last month and was really touched by our graduate's words. I've reprinted it with his permission.

Rebecca (as well Donna, Davida, Ryan, and Kim),

I've been meaning to write to you for a while now but find this is the best time for me to do so. I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for helping me discover, in myself, the ability to be who I can. Even though I was still and arrogant little shit while at RMIHA, I was instilled with the tools to be someone who is compassionate and can learn to love-to love with my entire being. These last few years have been extremely difficult for me, and most especially my relationship with [my partner]. We entered each others lives as unhealthy, destructive children, who tried to love each other without knowing how to love ourselves. We tried, but our fear of pain kept us from fully opening up to each other and that fear spilled over into every aspect of US. When the bottom fell out we were both wounded so deeply, and old wounds that were never resolved joined in the fray. I pushed her away, and she felt abandoned. If, for nobody other than myself, I want you to know that I am indebted to you, because in that darkness of fear and pain, I found a grain of light. A grain of infinite possibility that I am a beautiful person. A grain that was revealed to me through my education at RMIHA. I realized that the person who really hurt me the most was myself, because I had not forgiven myself for things I still carried with me, and they prevented me from loving myself, and in turn, loving [my partner]. I have been buried in David Richo's books (which I also would not have known without my education) and I have realized that I can forgive myself, and I can love myself. And that now I can truly love those around me. To love them in a way which I had never known before. I see now that massage was not what I really learned, rather, I learned how but be human. How to feel, and how to love, truly and deeply. And so, from the bottom of my heart, thank you-so very much thank you. I'm ready to begin a new chapter in my life, and a new relationship with [my partner] that will finally be healthy and productive, and be the father that [my son] needs...I'm ready to grow up.

much love always,

-ef, Class of 2005

Friday, July 4, 2008

Massage Ethics as a Tool of Personal Growth: An Introduction

Most massage therapists receive Codes of Ethics and Standards of Practice from various sources. These lists of guidelines and rules are helpful in setting the professional standards for massage therapy. Yet, the "rules" can be slightly different from one organization to another and, like anything in life, external rules need to be supported by internal values to be successful. When we notice ourselves in the gray areas where the rules don't seem to work, it's a good time to look inward to see what's going on.

Take, for example, the rule "don't accept gifts from clients." A lot of times we will ask, "why not, what's wrong with that?" or "do we really want to become so impersonal that we can't accept a gift?" Good questions. In a situation where a client is offering a gift and we recognize the standard of not accepting gifts, yet we want to anyway, it's a great time to look at ourselves. Is the desire to accept the gift based upon our perceptions of what the client needs to enhance the therapeutic relationship? Is it based upon our own needs to feel special, appreciated, or wanted? The notion that if our motivations are client based it's less of an ethical dilemma than if they are personally based may or may not apply in all situations.
So...this rule ("don't accept gifts") is pointing to the emergence of transference and countertransference issues, which are rich ground for healing. When we delve into our countertransference, we often discover unmet needs, unexplored fears and desires. Which is really cool because when we bring them to consciousness, we have the ability to grow and transform.
While ethical dilemmas usually aren't very comfortable, if we approach them with the willingness to look inward, we can bring a lot of healing to ourselves--a true gift!

© 2008, Rebecca Mauldin, All Rights Reserved

Monday, June 30, 2008

The 5A's: Five Tools to Facilitate Massage Ethics



I just got back from a quick trip to Pagosa Springs, CO, to
present an Ethics class to the Western Colorado Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association. It was a lot of fun and I appreciate the opportunity they gave me to speak on one of my favorite topics.

One of the things we discussed in this class was the 5A's from the work of David Richo: Attention, Acceptance, Appreciation, Affection, and Allowing. In his book, How to be an Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving, he discusses each of these in detail. It's a book I highly recommendto anyone interested in improving relationships and healing emotionally. Or in our case, studying ethics.

Richo tells us the 5A's are essential for healthy human development. They help us grow, mature, follow our dreams, and trust others and the world around us. They are also keys to being mindful and present.

He goes on to say if you have received (initially from your caregivers, but later in life from yourself) enough...
attention, it leads to self respect;
acceptance, it leads to a sense of being inherently good;
appreciation, it leads to self worth;
affection, it leads to feeling lovable;
allowing, it leads to the freedom to pursue our deepest needs, values, and wishes.

When we provide the 5As to ourselves, others people, and situations, we introduce a catalyst for transformation. Giving the 5A's is basically a practice of unconditional love.

This post is just to give an introduction to the 5A's. I haven't said much about the correlation between them and ethics. I'll have more to on that later, but in the meantime, please give your comments on how you see the two interrelated. (Thanks!)

Oh yeah, the photo is of a kayaker surfing at Corner Pocket in the Animas River, just 1/4 mile from the school. I thought it was appropriate for attention, acceptance, appreciation, affection and allowing--lessons of the river too!

© 2008, Rebecca Mauldin, All Rights Reserved

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin blessed our massage classroom

Massage school can get intense. There's all those muscles to learn, all that anatomy & physiology--and that's only the mental aspect of it all. There's also the emotional aspect that accompanies personal growth and transformation. That's when everyone in the classroom is grateful for humor.

This morning, when I heard that George Carlin passed away, I stopped and thought of all the times in the classroom when someone was reminded of George Carlin. Of all the comedians out there, he was most often referred to. It gave us a great relief from the pressures of everyday massage school life. With his passing, our world is losing a voice that inspired people to look at ordinary things differently, to have fun with language, and to laugh at the outrageous. He will be missed, but I am sure his humorous insights will continue to grace our classroom for years to come.

We'll also make do with the amateur comedians in our midst. Most classes have their class clowns, and there's always our Anatomy & Physiology teacher, Mark Little, with his Chuck Norris jokes and bigfoot tales.

(The photo is of Damon and Adrienne enjoying a laugh during physical assessment class).

© 2008, Rebecca Mauldin

Saturday, June 21, 2008

21 Things I Learned from My Massage Students


Today was graduation day at Rocky Mountain Institute of Healing Arts...

What I Learned from the Class of 2008

Even though your deeper self knows you’re not going to use it, it can be reassuring to sit close to the exit.
Thinking your husband is the most amazing person on the planet is a great foundation for marriage.
The aroma of turnips cooking in a crock pot is unrelenting.
Some of the greatest moments of liberation in the human spirit begin with tears or laughter.
Moving your business is easy when you have 15 people helping.
Thumping and cross crawling does wonders for group dynamics.
You don’t need a big house or a fancy kitchen to make the world’s greatest ├ęclairs.
How you show up can be more important than when you show up.
Do NOT be complacent when a student holds the sheet for you to get dressed.
When it comes to working with terminally ill clients or clients who have asked you out, young people have more poise and generosity than you might think.
When someone tells you your tire looks like it’s low on air, you should listen.
How to make kombucha.
You can’t tell how deep a person is going by looking.
Chris Entz is a good soul to have around.
Growing potatoes in your garden is not complicated.
Feeling judged is not really a true feeling, like anger or fear.
Shoes are bad.
Sometimes people appreciate being left alone.
It is possible to make a 100 on the kinesiology final.
Discussing shared food can lead to division; actually eating shared food leads to unity.
When you say congratulations and goodbye to a group of people you love very much, your heart feels exquisitely raw, burning hot, and as big as the sun.

Thanks to the Class of 2008 for touching my heart! Love, Rebecca

© 2008, Rebecca Mauldin

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Massage Graduate Offers Retreat in UT Desert

One of the gratifying parts of my life is keeping in touch with RMIHA graduates. I love hearing what's going on in their lives, what they are learning, how they are serving and all that good stuff.

On Saturday, Tiana Brown (see photo) is graduating and she is already involved in a project that is exciting to me. On September 11, 2008 (interestingly exactly one year after she began massage school), she is leading a retreat in Glen Canyon, UT. The retreat entails cleansing, yoga, massage and connection to the beautiful southern Utah desert. I recommend the website of this retreat for inspiration even if you don't attend. Tiana's such a wonderful massage therapist and she brings a wholesome energy where ever she goes. I'm excited for the people who get to attend this retreat and I'm excited that Tiana is beginning her massage career in such an auspicious way!

I'd love to hear from other massage school graduates. What are you doing to bring healing to the world?

© 2008, Rebecca Mauldin

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Learning Styles

Like all students, massage students can learn kinesthetically, visually, or auditorially. Most massage therapy students I've encountered say they learn best when they can get their hands on and try something out for themselves. If a student is predominantly a kinesthetic learner, the textbook assignments and lectures can be more of a challenge than the massage techniques. It's important to structure classes that connect to all types of learners. My amateur drawings can sometimes be the accidental cause of a lot of laughter. In class last week, when I drew this depiction of an anteriorly rotated pelvis on a male, the students said it was the best drawing of the year. So we took a picture! In this lesson, we viewed the drawing, felt it in our bodies, and talked about the principles of this posture and the muscles involved. Fun!

© 2008, Rebecca Mauldin

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

14 Tools for Healing



Today we took a group photo and someone had the bright idea
of taking a photo of their hands. Here they are: hands from the
RMIHA class of 2008. I imagine some pretty amazing massages
and energy work from these hands in the future!
© 2008, Rebecca Mauldin

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Beyond the profit motive

I just came from Julia Onofrio's blog (see blog list to the left of here) where there's a nice comment thread about the number of hours that's optimal in massage education. You can also go to http://thebodyworker.com/massage_blog/massage-therapy-training/#comment-1977. One of the themes is the effect of large profit oriented massage centers, large profit oriented massage schools and even the profit oriented motivation of massage students entering the field seeking a good way to make some great money.

It seems like we see this all around us in American society. People question where quality and caring goes when excitement for profit eclipses other goals.

To me, the act of giving a professional massage is one that has the possibility for tremendous effect on the client in emotional and spiritual ways as well as the obvious physical ones. Collectively, massage therapists have the potential for making a big difference in the world and the question of how we educate these therapists to be the best they possibly can be is an important discussion to be having.

I believe part of the answer lies in schools where the student and what is learned in the classroom are the priorities, where individual attention sparks enthusiasm for bodywork and the desire to continue learning throughout one's career. One of the most important things a massage therapist can have is the ability to be present, providing attention and acceptance for a client and his or her body. Regardless of the number of hours it takes, if this is addressed, the level of massage education is enhanced. For the benefit of massage therapy and massage clients, let's hope there continue to be massage schools that are dedicated to providing this type of education.

© 2008, Rebecca Mauldin

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I'm passionate about massage school

If you're lucky, when you go to massage school, it's a life changing event. Of course you learn many new skills, acquire lots of academic knowledge and gain tools to start a new career. But at its very best, the massage school experience shows you more of yourself than you knew before you started. The experience of giving and receiving bodywork opens your physical and emotional body, exposes your defenses, and gives you tremendous opportunities for growth and healing.

At Rocky Mountain Institute of Healing Arts, we're gearing up for a graduation in a couple of weeks. A lot of times at graduation, family and friends of the graduates come up to me and say, "Until I saw this ceremony and heard what the graduates had to say, I had no idea massage school was like this!" So lately I've been reflecting on the profound things that happen during the school year.

In the classroom, we laugh and cry, support each other through challenges and cheer each other in success. When the classroom becomes a microcosm for life with all it's ups and downs, the students have a chance to learn to be great listeners, to stay compassionate, not to become ungrounded by someone else's experience, and to stay present with another human being. These are things that make a person a great massage therapist and they truly can be learned in the classroom. This is why I think it's an honor to be a massage teacher. Because we get to guide and direct our students during this special process.

In this blog, I plan to write about the things that excite me about massage education and share what it's like to be in massage school. Sometimes massage lessons are only applicable to bodywork, but usually they are applicable to life.

© 2008, Rebecca Mauldin