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 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