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The Origin of Esalen® Massage

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Esalen® Massage is known for being a form of bodywork based on the principles of Gestalt Psychology since one of the most influential therapists who developed much of his work at the Esalen Institute was Fritz Pearls:

“The awakening leads us to be coherent between what I think-feel-do, thus being able to develop self-acceptance”.

As its name indicates, the Esalen® Massage was born in the Esalen Institute of California, cradle of the Human Potential Movement, founded in 1962 by Michael Murphy and Dick Price. Currently, this massage is considered one of the most widespread massage techniques in the United States and Argentina.

In its particular creation and evolution we can find what makes it so complete and so alive:

This special place became a meeting point for philosophers, psychologists, artists and religious thinkers of the time, who investigated other ways of healing than the psychiatry of the time. A few years later, the people who inhabited Esalen realized that for a healing you have to connect with the body, that’s when they began to investigate each one with the techniques they had learned around the world:

<Bodywork at Esalen and the development of various massage methods began to gain momentum in 1964. At that time as Michaeleen Kimly commented regarding her fellow students “none of us knew. Bernie (Gunther) knew Swedish, Gia Fu Geng taught a form of Shiatsu and emphasized the Chi forces of her Tai Chi Chuan. I had studied Chiropractic and had an intuitive talent for working with people. Storm had wonderful hands, but that was about it.”>> Book: From Esalen to Poona, Osho and the path of Humanistic Psychology – Transpersonal

Massage as a therapy gains strength after two years dedicated to experiential workshops and conferences on humanistic psychology, in which different body therapies and massage techniques are experimented and deepened to become a tool for exploration, awareness and healing.

It was in 1968 when Storm Accioli and Molly Day Shakman the first workshop: Meditation and Massage. Two years later Roberta Delong brings its approach to work in interpretation of sensations The client’s body, helping them in a non-verbal way, through breathing and with the presence of the hands on the body. The culmination of his experiences was published in his book “Psychic Massage”. Later, she would return to Esalen with what she called
Massage Therapy
.


Peggy Horan
influenced by Delong’s work, taught massage in total silence with movements reminiscent of Tai Chi Flow and working more on contractures and muscle knots.

With Ida Rolf’ s arrival, the therapists received the 10 Rolfing sessions she had designed for their work. The members were interested in deep tissue and anatomy work. The workshops still had the meditative essence but the anatomical descriptions and the physiology of breathing were introduced, and what would be today the deep tissue was developed.

Dr. Milton Trager (former boxer) brought the concept of “liberation of the body through movement”.
Milton Trager
(former boxer) brought the concept of “liberation of the body through movement”, which is known as harmonic swinging: through rhythmic movements, the mind and its conditioning of immobility are freed, releasing the rigid muscular patterns. Also
Moshe Feldenkrais
began to develop his method of postural correction at Esalen.

Since then, there have been many more contributions such as those of
Emily Conrad d’Aud and Susan Harper
creators of the Continiuum and
Gabrielle Roth
with the Dance of the Five Rhythms.

Now many of them have innovated and refined the body work, being a non-invasive form of bodywork that invites the person to disconnect and become aware of his or her body. This union of techniques and massages, makes each massage different and each masseuse brings his own touch bringing creativity and liveliness to each session.


Maria Lucas
Esalen® Massage Therapist andSpazio Massage School collaborator

Contact: Espacio Calithai Massages, www.masajeterapia.net

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