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Looking back, looking ahead

As I pore through my Heartful Touch records in preparation for filing my 2003 income tax forms, I look over the name of each client and express anew my gratitude for the opportunities that my clients continue to bring me.

Whether they seek relaxation or cessation from pain, whether they respond to Swedish massage or CranioSacral Therapy (or both), whether they are Heartful Touch veterans or adventurous newcomers, they all come to my table seeking the connection of touch. And as I provide that touch, I, in turn, absorb the physical, mental and spiritual lessons that each unique individual brings to our sessions.

I am grateful, too, in 2003 to have stepped out of my comfort zone to serve as a teaching assistant for two CranioSacral Therapy I workshops. Hearing the lectures anew, instructing students in proper hand placement and sharing my experience with CST in the workaday world have sharpened my therapeutic skills and broadened my people skills.

So has serving as a CST mentor to a fellow massage therapist who is taking the introductory workshop in March. Explaining each step of the 10-Step Protocol as I demonstrate the technique on Doug deepens my connection to this wonderful work, and I invite others who practice the work or who want to learn the work to contact me about possible CST trading sessions or a massage session in trade for guidance in learning CST.

As 2004 arrives, I look forward to expanding my CST work further by serving as a teaching assistant in CranioSacral Therapy II in June in Philadelphia and CranioSacral Pediatrics in August in Boston. I seek additional knowledge by enrolling in a Lower Body Ortho Massage course offered by James Waslaski Seminars in Quakertown, Pa., in May.

And, wherever I go, I continue my commitment to this healing path, this Heartful Touch, sharing my best with my clients and receiving so much more back in return.

Three AMTA surveys: Massage relieves pain

Massage therapy is effective in lessening pain, a major reason why people make a massage appointment. So revealed one of three surveys taken by the American Massage Therapy Association and reported upon by Massage Today in its December 2003 issue.

The consumer survey stated that 47 percent of those polled sought out massage for pain relief, and 91 percent said their pain was reduced by a massage.

In a second AMTA national survey sponsored by the American Hospital Association, 63 percent of those polled said massage therapy gave more relief from pain than chiropractic, acupuncture, physical therapy and other forms of bodywork.

A third survey supported by the AMTA and conducted by the AHA revealed that of the 1,007 hospitals that responded, 82 percent of those offering complementary and alternative medicine included massage therapy, and more than 70 percent used massage therapy of pain management and pain relief.

More information:,

‘The Mental Equivalent’

In the November-December issue of his “Balanced Living” newsletter, Ed Rocks spotlights a booklet by Emmet Fox called “The Mental Equivalent.” Like Edgar Cayce, who often stated, “Spirit is the life, mind is the builder and the physical is the result,” Fox says that we live in a mental world, one created by thought.

“We are on earth to express God,” Fox says, continuing, “It is your duty to express God to the utmost of your power. Until you have excellent health … until you have found your true place (serving) and right activity, until you are free from conscious fear, anxiety and criticism, you are not demonstrating and must find out why.”

There are three steps. Notice the parts of your life that are not working (which relationships need a tune-up, what part of your body would you like to see function better, how’s your job situation). Then play detective (watch your thoughts, listen to what you say, and note any negativity in either area).

Finally, when you notice that you are accepting these negative thoughts as “facts,” change your thinking. Start making positive mental equivalents. See yourself enjoying heretofore unpleasant activities. Act as if such pleasure is already in existence. Infuse such mental equivalents with real feeling, real emotion. Expect them and they will come.

As Rocks states, and as Fox, Cayce and many others believe, “They have to. It’s a law. Everything that we experience has been created in our minds. The trick is to consciously create!”

“The Mental Equivalent” and other works by Emmet Fox can be ordered from Ed Rocks from his website,

Stretches of the month

The following three stretches help reduce the stress that lead to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. All are from “Active Isolated Stretching” by Aaron Mattes, For all exercises, breathe out when doing the stretch, hold for two seconds (“One Mississippi, Two Mississippi”) and breathe in when coming out of the stretch. Do each for 6-10 repetitions.

Wrist Extension: Prone

Muscles stretched: Wrist and finger flexors, including flexor carpi radialis, flexor carpi ulnaris and flexor digitorums.

Muscles contracted: Wrist and finger extensors including the extensor carpi radialis longus, extensor carpi radialis brevis and extensor carpi ulnaris.

Method: Straighten elbow with palm facing downward. Extend wrist and fingers backward as far as possible (meaning fingers point up toward ceiling and then back toward you) by contracting wrist-finger extensors including the extensor carpi radialis longus, extensor carpi radialis brevis and extensor carpi ulnaris.

For a gentle assisting stretch, place your free hand over the palm surface of hand being stretched, covering the base of the fingers toward the bottom of the fingers surface. Make sure the fingers continue to stretch as free hand assists.

Wrist Extension: Supine

Muscles stretched: Wrist flexors at the proximal end attachments, including the flexor carpi radialis, flexor carpi ulnaris and flexor digitorums.

Muscles contracted: Wrist-finger extensors including the extensor carpi radialis longus, extensor carpi radialis brevis, extensor carpi ulnaris and extensor digitorum.

Method: Lock elbow and face palm upward. Extend wrist and fingers back (fingers point toward the floor and then back toward you) through full range by contracting wrist-finger extensors. Free hand assists with stretch at end of movement.

Finger Extensor Stretch

Muscles stretched: Extensor carpi radialis longus, extensor carpi radialis brevis, extensor carpi ulnaris, extensor digitorum, extensor indicis and extensor digiti minimi.

Muscles contracted: Flexor carpi radialis, flexor carpi ulnaris, flexor digitorums.

Method: From a standing or sitting position, extend the elbow, palm down and make a firm fist, thumb tucked under the other fingers. Flex the wrist downward as far as possible by contracting the flexor muscles. The free hand then presses the back of the fist to assist with the stretch.

Recipe of the month

I love to awaken to the smell of warm grain and vegetables permeating the house. No, I don’t have my own personal chef. I have a crockpot, or slow cooker.

For an easy lunch to prepare overnight, I place a half-cup of organic brown basmati rice, which is particularly fragrant, in the crockpot. I dice a small red onion and a small turnip and add them to the pot, along with a handful of broccoli florets and a large shredded leaf of kale. I add two cups of water, enough to allow for absorption and evaporation over eight to nine hours.

I then put the crockpot setting on low, plug the crockpot in, and head for bed, knowing that in the morning I’ll be able to fill a wide-mouthed Thermos with a vegan stew that will stay warm until lunch and keep me nutritionally fired up all afternoon long.

Until next time … be well.

Dennis Sprick
The Heartful Touch
Massage and CranioSacral Therapy