New Year, New Career

Welcome to 2015. This is going to be the year you find a career that give you both passion and success!

We say it year after year, hoping the right career will just pop up and snatch us from our current situation. Maybe you hate your 9 to 5 hours or sitting at a computer all day or feeling like you haven’t done any good in the world. Now is the time for you to actually do something about it.

Resolutions always seem impossible to keep, so let’s think of this career change as a goal instead. But how do you achieve that goal of a new, fulfilling career?

Step 1:

Work Life Balance signpostAsk yourself: What do I want out of a career? Do I want to help other people? Do I want to make my own schedule?

Finding a career that fits your desired lifestyle and purpose is just as important as finding one that fits your desired income. With a career in massage therapy you can have all of them. You can make your own schedule, help others feel better through your work, and be fulfilled.

11.01.Anatomy.BookCloseupStep 2:

Research! Do you need training to achieve this career? Do you need additional skill? Where can you go to school?

Most new careers will require some additional training, whether through college, trade school, or certificate programs. The important thing to remember is that while this takes time and effort on your end, it is an important step on your way to the destination of your new career. Make sure you find the best possible training – that will help you find the best possible job in your chosen career!

Step 3:

Train. Learn. Prepare.

11.01.MassageThis is the time for you to open your mind and learn. Learn all the skills necessary for your new career. Make this your passion and completely engulf yourself in education!

Step 4:

Start your engines!

You have your education, your training, your vision of what you want to do. Now is the time to get motivated to make it happen. You have all the tools! Do the leg work to apply and impress or even start your own business. You have a world of options and opportunity available to you, especially in massage therapy! Go for it!

Thinking about your future and making your future happen are two different things. Let this year be the year the doing beats out wishing!

Learn more about starting your career in massage therapy with an education at The Lauterstein-Conway Massage School – CLICK HERE.

Vitamin T

11.01.MassageLife cannot thrive without touch. This is so fundamental that too often it goes without being said or even recognized.

The embrace of the baby in the womb, the touch of the mother, father and other adults nurturing, feeding, welcoming the child, the later touch of peers, lovers, partners, the touch of our own children – we each have a tactile autobiography. Touch through times of triumph, challenge, defeat, sickness, recovery. Touch during the end of life process.

Many years ago in the comic strip, Pogo, Albert the alligator, was selling this incredible substance he called “H2O.” Its varied uses were incredible. You could wash with it, make soup with it, swim in it, help plants grow with it. Eventually he was discovered as hawking water! But indeed water is indeed this incredible substance of truly incalculable value. So it is with touch.

I propose a new vitamin. VITAMIN T.

Without touch, virtually none of our actions would take place because ultimately the primary way we take action upon reality is through touch. And certainly one of the primary ways we feel is through touch. One of the primary ways we can even KNOW if something is real is through touching it.

Touch is the first sense to develop in the embryo. The baby’s sense of touch begins in the womb as early as 7.5 weeks. Thus, touch forms the foundation for our sensory world.

The architect Charles Moore talking of the “haptic” nature of touch wrote –

“No other sense deals as directly with the three-dimensional world or similarly carries with it the possibility of altering the environment in the process of perceiving it; that is to say, no other sense engages in feeling and doing simultaneously.”

It’s worth repeating and reading it slowly.

“No other sense deals as directly with the three-dimensional world or similarly carries with it the possibility of altering the environment in the process of perceiving it; that is to say, no other sense engages in feeling and doing simultaneously.”

Every time we touch, we feel and we act and we help change the world, to some small or large extent. When we do massage therapy, we help clients alter the environment of their body, mind and spirit through the facilitating, existentially fundamental effects of touch.

Perhaps many of the socio-political challenges we face stem from lack of touch or from lack of healthy touch. This is a massive vitamin deficiency. Education about the healthy effects of touch – our most fundamental sense – is dramatically under-emphasized in education and around the world. Ironically, the most important things in life – such as touch, spiritual beliefs, sexuality, parenting, right livelihood, the destructive consequences of prejudice – all are mostly exiled from education as they are viewed as too personal. Too personal?

The nourishment of the very roots of our humanity is personal! And I believe it starts with a healthy therapeutic dose of Vitamin T.

And, like all the most important manifestations of kindness in this world, touch is free.

“Love is touch. Touch is love.” ~ John Lennon

What the world needs now…you know what it is. Let us be, deeply, in touch. The world needs Vitamin T.

Deep Massage and “Low Back Pain”

by Keith Vencill

Many of the people I see for the first time complain of “low back pain”. Massage is rarely the first thing that they try. Over-the-counter pain relievers are cheap, easy to come by, and may be effective. However, clients become frustrated as symptoms return when the drugs wear off. They think there must be a better, longer-lasting answer.  There is!

Our clients want 1) for the pain to stop and 2) for the pain to never return. As body workers, we know that postural and/or lifestyle changes are often required to completely eliminate the problem. This obviously does not happen in one session. How do we get a client to return until the problem is resolved? Simply, we must be, generally, more effective and predictable than a pill.

Deep Massage: the Lauterstein Method is the best way I have found to address pain in the lumbar area and will be the primary focus of this workshop. Included will be a hands-on review of the relevant musculoskeletal anatomy, the foundation principles of Deep Massage the Lauterstein Method, and some great techniques.

Anatomy: The muscles of the back, sacroiliac ligaments and gluteal origins will be reviewed and palpated. The relevance of gender differences in pelvic orientation will be explored.

The fulcrum, one of the foundation principles of the Lauterstein Method, is a way to intentionally contact both structure and energy simultaneously. I refer to it as a “cheat code” for the nervous system: getting past or around reflexive defenses surrounding a held or damaged area held in stasis by splinting or protective compensations. Yes, we’re doing a kind of brain software surgery – ultimately the client’s change depends on a changing message from the nervous system..

Techniques will be general and specific, with a focus the muscles and fascia and on information (“working signs”) we can gather from the client’s neurological response. These signs will inform our pressure, pace and effectiveness. You’ll have somatic conversations with your client’s subconscious, introducing the possibility of real, lasting change.

Learn more at the Anatomy and Deep Massage for Lower Back workshop with Keith Vencill on Sunday, February 1, 2015. CLICK HERE to register today!

Up for a Challenge?

by Christopher Allan

What I love about the field of massage therapy is the vast options of clientele we can choose to work with. Not everyone has what it takes to work with kids and adults with special needs like Cerebral Palsy, Autism or Head Wound Injuries, and that’s okay. So what does it take? It takes desire and some basic working knowledge of indications, contraindications and a tool box of techniques. Indications for massage may include things like atrophy, adhesions, poor sleeping patterns and constipation to name a few. Also, we must be aware of contraindications like seizures, dislocations, bed sores and recent surgeries.

Working with special needs kids and adults challenges therapists in ways you never imagined. Sometimes due to clients physical disability therapists find themselves having to work on the floor or alongside the client’s hospital bed. This creates challenges with biomechanics and techniques. Also, we have to be versed in pathology and work with a wide variety of massage therapy tools and techniques. These techniques might include passive range of motion, circulatory massage, pin and stretch and reflexology.

Every client has its own set of special needs and as therapist we have to create, collaborate and come up with a unique treatment plan for each client. We have to possess a willingness to collaborate with the family, nurse, attendant and/ or doctor on making sure we are providing a safe and effective treatment plan. At our workshop “Massage for Special Needs” we are going to cover all of this and prepare you for success. Every student will have the opportunity to hear lecture material and get some hands on time to practice techniques targeted for working with this clientele. We hope to see you there!

Learn more at the Massage for Special Needs: Autism, Cerebral Palsy, and More workshop with Christopher Allan on January 18, 2015. CLICK HERE to register today!

A New Year’s Encouragement

2014-new-years-resolutions“All Sickness is Home Sickness” is the title of book by acupuncturist, Dianne Connelly.

It may be a watchword for this pivotal year we are entering. How many of us are fully at home in our bodies? It is often quite a challenge to take the best care of ourselves while we juggle work, child-raising, time for recuperation, etc. Excess busy-ness, excess stress, with less recuperation time ultimately is perhaps indeed the major indicator for illness.

This is one of the reasons massage therapy is so important. There is no other therapy which gets you at home in your body so quickly, efficiently and thoroughly. As the poet Kabir said,

Be strong then, and enter into your own body;
there you have a solid place for your feet.
Think about it carefully!
Don’t go off somewhere else!

Kabir says this: just throw away all thoughts of
imaginary things,
and stand firm in that which you are.

What do you need? Of course, we need cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and flexibility training. We need a healthy diet. We need to cultivate psychological health. We need healthy interactions in our home life and community. Ultimately we need our environment to support this health – this larger home is as important as the immediate bodily one.

For us here at The Lauterstein-Conway Massage School, we see in our classes and our student internship sessions the fantastic kick-start and support that massage gives people on their pathway, on their road home to health.

11.01.KayciabackMassage benefits flexibility; it helps remove accumulated tensions in specific muscles, ligaments and joints that we can not get at as specifically through exercise. It clears our minds and heart of worry and the negative impacts of held-in feelings be they ones of anger, grief, or fear. It balances out the autonomic nervous system – whose imbalance sometimes compromises our relaxation, sleep-abiity, rejuvenation. By helping you be more in balance in body, mind and spirit, it acts preventatively. The best and most powerful medicine is that which helps you stay well.

How good it feels to be at home in oneself – in one’s body, mind and spirit. To the extent that we all experience and relax into that healthy commitment, to precisely that extent the whole world becomes a better home for all! In the wonderful words of E.E. Cummings – “your homecoming will be my homecoming.”

Happy New Year from all of us here at “TLC”!


10850015_767315829972936_3847335412784290679_nPain science is telling us that pain is an output of the brain, not an input from the body. Similarly we can note that relaxation and pleasure are outputs of the brain, though we may “feel” them in the effected organs, muscles, and other tissues.

Ironically then it turns out that soft tissue manipulation, which most states use as the definition for massage therapy, is not essentially what we are doing. Soft tissue is no more the locus of therapy than the cell phone is the locus or content of our conversation. Rather, soft tissues are the communication medium through which we can carry on profound conversations with the nervous system. If one is open to these terms one might say we use the client’s structure to communicate with their energy.

Milton Trager said, “You have to reach the unconscious mind of the client if you want to produce change that lasts.” Science is catching up to Trager, Fritz Smith, and other visionaries who have known consciously or intuitively that manipulation is not the essence of our work. Communication is the key to health. Bodywork that is not also mindwork may not be very effective!

Let this caution us about the negative consequences of many therapists’ and clients’ notions of deep tissue that call for adding more pressure for more benefit. When we see soft tissues as a communication medium, more pressure may be seen as the equivalent of shouting into your cell phone. “I SAID RELAX!!!”

Find new ways to talk with the nervous system. The brain and the bodymind appreciate the kindly attention.

Lymphatic Drainage

by Liz Hoffmaster

I have been doing lymphatic drainage for a number of years on people with different needs:

  1. Orthopedic surgeries, postoperatively, on hips, knees and any joint that can be operated on.
  2. Cancer patients who have had chemo, radiation and tumor removal.
  3. Elective surgeries, postoperatively.

It is this last category that I’m going to talk about. For 14 years I have had many referrals, for lymphatic drainage, from a plastic surgeon. He does amazing work and is very conscientious as a surgeon. I say he is the best seamstress in Austin. His stitching is immaculate. I know, because over the years I have seen some terrible stitching up of body parts. What he cannot control however is postoperative swelling. So he sends his
patients to me and other therapists who do lymphatic drainage. It is a real privilege to work on those patients because the benefits of the work are immediately evident.

Afterwards the patients feel less pain, bruising dissipates rapidly, there is improved sensation, decreased swelling and an increase in sense of well-being. There is a lot of judgment in the world about people who choose plastic surgery. In fact the people that have the surgery are often their own worst judges. The truth is they may have spent years wishing they could have something different in their body and now they’ve finally done it. Some are excited, some are terrified and wondering what on earth they have done, but in the end, the majority of them are very happy with their

I spend a lot of time encouraging them to be kind to themselves. I believe that is one of our main jobs as helpers of human beings. Below are two photographs, before and after, of one of my patients. He gave these to me along with permission to share them with everyone. I don’t think I need to attach any words to say what this must have meant to him in his life……

lymphatic drainage1 lymphatic drainage2

Grad Chronicle: Alexis Brown

My Experience working as a MT abroad

At the Lourve Musuem in Paris, Franceby Alexis Brown

I had the pleasure of attending The Lauterstein-Conway School of Massage February 2013-August 2013. Massage School was a lot of fun for me. I learned so much form the instructors, and enjoyed giving, and receiving massages daily. When I graduated I applied and accepted a position at Edelweiss Lodge and Resort, an Armed Forces Recreation Center in Garmisch, Germany.

I was brought on as a Massage Therapist and Esthetician for a 15 month contract. I had the time of my life, this past year. I was able to travel to 13 countries while employed at ELR, including Italy, France, Spain, England, Hungary, and Croatia to name a few. My overall favorite experience was my trip to Marrakech, Morocco. It felt completely foreign. The city of Marrakech had a lot of old world charm, with an infusion of a new young, vibe. I stayed in a traditional riad the first night and visited the Grand Souk where traditional clothes, spices, street foods, and henna tattoos are sold. My guide also took us on a 7 hour road trip through the Atlas Mountains to the Sahara Desert. There, my husband and I rode camels into the Sahara Desert to spend the night there. We ate a traditional meal of chicken tagine and Moroccan tea made by the Nomadic people of the Morocco. They sang songs around a campfire. It was truly an adventure.

While my travels kept me busy, my job kept my just as busy. While at ELR I did a variety of massages, body treatments, and facial. Hot Stone and Deep Tissue were very popular after a long day of skiing the German Alps. Working at Edelweiss was a unique experience in that the clientele had a unique story as all being affiliated with the military, wether they were active duty, veterans, or family memebrs. I felt great pride in relaxing these clients who go through so much to protect our country. A lot of soldiers were on R&R with their families after deployments in the Middle East and Africa. I was inspired by the stories I heard from them.

Working at Edelweiss Lodge and Resort was the best experience of my life, and I highly encourage anyone who’s looking for a little adventure to apply. I also, thankful for the skills I learned at TLC for getting me there.

The End of the Modern World?

downloadI just re-read The End of the Modern World (1956) by Romano Guardini, a Catholic priest and professor of religion and philosophy. I don’t share his beliefs precisely (being more or less a Jew-dist), but he makes a compelling and frightening case for what we have lost by not having a religious perspective play a role in our everyday lives.

Here is my take on some of his points:

Not having a central spiritual organization of life, now we create our destinies mostly by our own power and those often manipulated by for-profit power entities.

It’s ironic that our philosophy, spiritual beliefs and questions may be the most important things used to guide our lives, yet our early education does not explore these things. They are largely viewed as too personal to be covered in school. Until we have the courage to examine and discuss what we believe, we are in danger.

“Without religion life becomes like a machine without oil, it runs hot, even if its functions, some part of it is always burning out.” – Guardini

The desire to have Christianity or any single religion to hold sway unfortunately (since a single answer would be simpler in a way) is not viable any longer – no one religion has singular possession of truth. However, as we to continue to discuss the common ground to these perspectives (seems to come down to the Golden Rule in many ways), we can evolve a viable faith to guide us.

For me, it is regarding and treating as sacred the miracle of the environment, plants, and creatures of the earth, the miracles of biology and consciousness that constitute human beings.

“Our ancestors drew their subject matter from the religious attitudes which weighed on their souls. We must now learn to draw inspiration from the tangible miracles around us.” (Umberto Boccioni, 1882-1916)

As a massage therapist, it is quite easy to draw inspiration from “the tangible miracles around us” – these miracles of body, mind and spirit that are each of our clients. Perhaps this intrinsically “religious” attitude of massage is why touch and education in touch is so important in this post-modern world. Touch is actual reality, not virtual. It helps us be in touch which who we most fundamentally are without the intercession of doctrine. I believe in touch.

Humble is Helpful

by Lauren Muser Cates

“How do you get set up working in a hospital as a massage therapist?”.

I could fund a hospital program if I had a dollar for every time a massage therapist asked me this question. The truth is that if you want to talk seriously about how massage therapy becomes part of the paid, funded services at a hospital, there are some things you know you’ll need.

Evidence, skills and training are all important. If you don’t have them. Stay away from the hospital. You don’t belong there. However, what I want to talk with you about today is a gut check or, more important, a heart check.

Wanna know the hands down biggest mistake I see massage therapists make when they approach a hospital?..they show up entitled and arrogant. Most of us don’t even know we’re doing this. We’re so used to slogging up the hill, scrabbling hard for every little speck of positive regard we can earn that we don’t notice we’ve become a little impatient, a little bitter, a little worn out by saying the same things over and over to people “who just don’t get it”. We hear stories about big grants and the generosity of “grateful patients” and money being misspent on things that couldn’t possibly be as valuable as what we have to offer and we wear the indignity of that on our sleeves.

A successful approach is a balancing act.

Picture it. You’re a circus seal. The evidence, the skills, the experience?…they are essential! No self-respecting circus will not hire you without them, but they’re the ball on your nose and the bowling pins on your flippers. They’re just part of the show. If the platform that’s teetering on the pyramid under you is something other than love?…it won’t be cute and you will get no fish.

I was recently co-teaching at a retreat and we were discussing the concept of suffering or, more basically, how common it is to be unhappy with the way things are. One of the retreatants raised her hand and said, “So, am I just supposed to accept everything as it is and never do anything to change the situation?” One of my wise co-teachers invited her to consider Ghandi, Martin Luther King…Jesus. They didn’t accept things as they were. They lived to remind us that love is important. They worked to change the way things were by living through injustice and hatred with love. The difference is the energy with which they did the things they did. They inspired others to come in their direction by being vulnerable and open and by continuing to walk. By being patient and persistent. By suffering the slings and arrows and meeting them all with growing, enduring love.

I hope, with all of my heart, that you want to get into the hospital because you know there are people in there who need love. And I hope that you know that people who work in hospitals…yes, even administrators, actually do what they do because they know what you know…that humans deserve to be cared for with love.

I work in hospitals. Hospital-based massage therapy and training are a big part of how I make my living. It’s been a slow, organic, one-foot-in-front-of-the-other process of trust and love and commitment. You must have training. You must have experience. You must have a solid sense of ethical practice and good evidence to support the value of your inclusion…and I can (and will!) work with you to create and build all of that, but it’s absolutely useless if your spirit is not loving, curious, open and compassionate.

Please, above all else, bring all of these things with you when you make your pitch. You’ll be amazed at the possibilities that unfold.

Learn more about at the Hospital-Based Massage Therapy – Getting to “Yes” workshop with Lauren Muser Cates on December 6 & 7. CLICK HERE to register today!