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Expanding my toolbox

It took a course in neuromuscular therapy during my enrollment at the Somerset School of Massage Therapy in 1997 to bring my massage work into sharp relief. Suddenly, the back was not a single entity to rub but a series of muscles — trapezius, quadratus lumborum, rhomboids, rotator cuff muscles, spinal muscles — to treat individually as well as collectively.

Similarly, it took the two-part Orthomassage course offered by James Waslaski to take my sessions in a galvanic new direction this year. With the use of the menthol-scented, deep-penetrating Prossage lotion, I am spreading calf muscles, honing in on hamstrings, accessing hard-to-reach muscles in the legs and shoulders, seeking to release and relax painful areas all around.

It’s another tool in my ever-expanding toolbox of techniques to serve and help my clients. So whether you seek the soothing relaxation of massage, the profound relaxation of CranioSacral Therapy or the pain relief of Orthomassage, The Heartful Touch is the one to contact.

Technique of the Month


It was the last thing I learned at the Somerset School of Massage Therapy, and typically the first technique I apply when I begin a massage. It’s also one of the techniques I most enjoy doing.

Reflexology refers to pressure points on the feet and the hands that, so the theory goes, correspond to other parts of the body. For instance, the upper back of the big toe represents the brain, while the middle of the heel corresponds to the sciatic.

Starting out with reflexology on the feet offers a healing session in miniature to the person on my table before I massage the actual arms and legs and other body parts themselves. At the very least, the feet are stretched and probed and brought into the client’s healing consciousness in a way they might not be otherwise.

So bring your feet to the Heartful Touch table and let them be served!

Eight secrets for success by Jack La Lanne

(By way of the Hallelujah Acres newsletter,

Don’t you want to look your best? Wouldn’t you like to feel great all the time and have more energy? Well, you can! All you need to do is eat right and exercise, and you’ll feel like a million dollars.

So says Jack La Lanne (, who recently turned 90. Jack, who had a miserable and sickly childhood, took control of his health and turned his life around as a teenager when he heard and obeyed the words of a nutrition teacher (Paul Bragg). No more headaches, no more boils or negative thinking as Jack changed his diet and began training at a local YMCA.

Jack attributes his turnaround to a vegetarian diet and exercise. His eight steps:

  1. You make your life happen! Be optimistic! Everything starts with your mind. No one but you is going to do chest presses or juice a daily dose of vegetables.
  2. Work at living; most people work at dying. Realize the consequences of your choices! Do your choices lead to life and longetivity? Don?t fall for the latest gimmicks and food fads.
  3. Take steps toward planned, concrete goals. Be persistent in changing bad habits into good ones. Simply take one step at a time! Never look back at a lapse — just begin again with renewed determination.
  4. Develop pride through discipline. By regularly nurturing your cells, tissues, bones and muscles, you develop self-confidence, both physically and mentally.
  5. Plot your lifetime exercise regimen. It’s got to be vigorous! It’s like life. Stretch and weightlift, and then do other cardiovascular exercise until your muscles are fatigued.
  6. Put natural food into your live body! Eat raw vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grains and nuts. Then juice fresh vegetables. For those bodies needing extra cleansing, juice two to three times a day.
  7. Create variety! You’ve got to keep yourself fresh and happy! Change your program every 30 days, whether the number of repetitions or the type of exercise.
  8. If you’re using steroids, know the consequences. Look at what’s happened to so many. How many live out their average life span?

Hike of the month

In need of some solitude and connection with my haunts of decade ago, I drove to and parked atop Skyline Drive, straddling the border of Oakland (Bergen County) and Ringwood (Passaic County), and set off on the yellow-blazed Hoeferlin Memorial Trail. Joined by the historic Cannonball Trail, the southern half of which I had hiked in 2002, the Hoeferlin trail paralleled the busy Skyline Drive (take care crossing the road before the start of the hike) before plunging into the woods and leaving the sounds of this road behind — though, later, the sounds of the New York Thruway could be heard faintly from the east.

A couple of vistas were my ultimate reward, one revealing the woods and peaks southwest of Ringwood, the second the outline of Erskine Lake below. When I lived at Cupsaw Lake from 1983-86 and was running the fire trails and footpaths of Ringwood State Forest, I had found this yellow trail and had come to this Erskine Lake overlook from the other direction. So it seemed fitting metaphorically to meet the runner I was from 20 years ago at this point before turning around and returning to my current life.

This hike took me about 2½ hours at a fairly fast clip with few stops. Terrain is somewhat rocky, so it’s best to keep one’s eyes on the ground. Compensating for this downward focus are the greenery, leaves ablaze, fresh air breathed in deeply, and the solitude.

The Skyline Drive peak is a good starting point for a number of circular loops, which can be found by logging onto the New York New Jersey Trail Conference Web site,, and doing a search for Cannonball Trail.

Recipe of the month

Creamy Tomato and Rice Soup

From “Venturesome Vegetarian Cooking” by J.M. Hirsch and Michelle Hirsch, Surrey Books, 2004, $21.95 paperback.

(Start to finish 30 minutes)

½ cup cashew pieces
6 large, ripe tomatoes
½ cup fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups cooked short-grain brown rice
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup vanilla rice milk
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill (or 1 teaspoon dry)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spread the cashew pieces on a baking sheet and bake 10 minutes or until just golden.

Meanwhile, cut the tomatoes into small chunks, reserving as much of the juice as possible. Place the tomato chunks and juice in a medium saucepan. Roughly chop half the basil and add it to the pan. Bring the mixture to a simmer over a medium flame. Add the cashews, tomato paste, 1½ cups brown rice, soy sauce, vinegar, rice milk and dill. Cover and simmer 15 minutes.

Transfer the soup to a blender, in batches if necessary, and puree until smooth. Return the soup to the pan and add remaining rice and basil. Simmer another 3 minutes over a medium flame. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh parsley or additional basil, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

Parting words

From the late Egar Cayce, “The Sleeping Prophet” and the pioneer of the holistic health movement:

“Then what are you grumbling about because you dislike your mother? She dislikes you as much, but change this into love. Be kind, be gentle, be patient, be long-suffering, for if thy God was not long-suffering with thee, what chance would you have?”

Until next time (and next year),

Be well.

Dennis Sprick
The Heartful Touch
Massage and CranioSacral Therapy