HOW DOES IT WORK
Esalen style of massage often incorporates a variety of elements from the practitioner’s repertoire of learning. He/she might combine parts of Swedish, Deep Tissue, Shiatsu, Trager, Craniosacral, etc. However, one of the key differences that can set Esalen apart from Swedish is that it is “less energetically focused”. In this context, to be less energetically focused is to say that it is aimed at creating a level of deep relaxation that’s based in a meditative approach. The therapist begins, first, clearing their own mind and energy, getting centered and present in the moment. Next, the therapist will strive to bring in a quality of touch that communicates respect, trust, sensitivity, and nurturing. Oftentimes, a single stroke in a session may be longer, more flowing, and have a greater sense of contact with the client’s body as the therapist utilizes the entire arm, not just a thumb or hand. During the session, the therapist will hold any intentions set forth by the client at the start. In other words, if the client expressed the desire for a healing, that is held in the foreground; if he or she expressed feeling exhausted and only a need to be rejuvenated, that is held in the foreground. The therapist sets aside any predesigned judgments about how they might “fix” the person or problem. The massage is not goal oriented, but instead is an opportunity to balance the client’s energy, nurture each in a way he or she needs, and bring in a deeper level of relaxation. It is an interactive experience on an energetic “level” that fosters well-being and connectedness.
Esalen gently helps the client to become aware of holding patterns. Initiates self-discovery through touch, breath, feedback and reflection. Awakens clients to the tight places in body, mind, and spirit. It assists as a catalyst to change and generates a deep level of relaxation.
It is best to either abstain from massage or check with your regular physician when any of these are present: fever, infectious disease, cancer, broken bones, high blood pressure, HIV, hernia, osteoporosis.
ORIGINS OF ESALEN MASSAGE
Esalen massage originated at the Esalen Institute. Founded and located in Big Sur California in 1962, this residential community and retreat center focuses on humanistic alternative education. An offshoot of Swedish massage, Esalen massage’s philosophical approach differs from Swedish, largely due to the influence of the early Esalen leaders, Charlotte Selver and Bernie Gunther and their studies and teachings of “Sensory Awareness”. This approach involves a particular quality of touch and presence by the practitioner that communicates an interactive experience. Over fifty years, Esalen massage has evolved and changed in many ways and yet, philosophically, it remains the same.