Deep Massage and the Renaissance of Touch
by David Lauterstein

The Renaissance, it is told, took place in the 15th and 16th centuries. We are, however, in another renaissance today, one of equal or greater importance.This renaissance was predicted by the futurist John Naisbitt in his book Megatrends. Naisbitt spoke of the coming world as one of High Tech and High Touch. High tech and its spellbinding world of virtual reality is well documented. However, the rise of High Touch and its corresponding commitment to the heightened experience of actual reality is equally newsworthy and of potentially greater significance. The renaissance of seeing and hearing is giving way to a renaissance of touch. The most vast of senses, the earliest to develop, touch is currently the repository of one of the most remarkable developments of our age. The discovery is that touch is quite possibly the leading edge for the next step in our cultural evolution.

There has been, not accidentally, far more proliferation of touch therapies in the last twenty years than at any other time in world history. And it is not any particular brand of touch that is singularly powerful—be it Feldenkrais, Swedish massage, Zero Balancing, Reiki, Craniosacral Therapy, etc. These all constitute a realm pointing us back to the source of our power—ourselves and the life force we embody. For, setting aside the claims of the various therapeutic brands, what is most powerful here is the tender power of touch—to touch the truth of our aliveness, to restore our sense of deep enjoyment, to rise and praise with touch the beauty that is human being. Touch connects us with all this. Touch wakes us up from the marketed but illusory world of happiness through virtual reality and the accumulation of goods, the kind of happiness that takes no inner work. Touch is the medium of actual reality.

The hunger for what is real in a culture of alienation is the greatest hunger of all.Touch is a fundamental way to satisfy this hunger for the real. How can we optimize this power? How can we best use it to help in our struggle for a world that values and cultivates real life? How can we assure the expanded growth and cultural influence of the high art and science of touch?

Deep Massage: The Lauterstein Method is a way to understand and cultivate this quality of touch—to be clinically effective and revitalizing in a unique way.It has evolved because mankind is badly in need of a solution to stress-related disease and to the deep disconnectedness which modern culture produces. It is a natural outgrowth of the many innovations in body and mind therapies during this renaissance we are in.
Deep Massage arises from a new understanding of human structure and energy. Until this past century, the understanding of structure was based on a compression model. It was thought that the body was supported by the bones resting on top of each other, just as columns support each other in a building. The muscles were thought of merely as elements of movement. The dawn of modern structural bodywork and deep massage was the realization that the bones themselves are positioned in space largely by the muscles and their associated connective tissues, called “fascia.”

First, Andrew Taylor Still, the founder of Osteopathy, proposed this. He was followed by Ida Rolf, the founder of Rolfing (“Structural Integration”), who articulated both a theory and practice based solidly on this model. This model, as we explored it further, turned to be one well-described by the modern architect, Buckminster Fuller. It is called the “tensegrity” model. Tensegrity examines form and function, not primarily in man-made architecture, but in nature. In nature the hard members within a structural system are supported and positioned by the soft members. Think of poles in a tent and how they actually are held in place by the tensions in the fabric and guy wires. The bones in the human structural system do act as spacers or anchors for the muscles.

But the positioning of the bones, and thus our alignment, is largely determined by our muscles and their fascia. This opened up a whole new role for bodywork.If muscles and their connective tissues are the primary element in determining the body’s alignment and movement, then massage therapists suddenly find themselves in the central position with regard to the health of the human structure. Perhaps even a central position with regard to human culture. Ida Rolf so highly appreciated this aspect of bodywork that she felt it was critical to any further human evolution.

We have evolved from forward-leaning apes, toward erectness and the promise of deep balance potential within the human form. The attainment of our vertical destiny does seem to be a prerequisite to physical health as well as, perhaps, a foundation for the emotional, spiritual, and mental health of the fully embodied human.

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