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Seek out serenity

I love stay-at-home August vacations. When it seems that much of Montclair has taken to the roads or is down the shore, I walk uptown to the bank on Saturday or to church on Sunday and drink in the quiet of the sun-dappled, tree-lined suburban streets.

While I know that cars and pedestrians and noise will increase come the first week of September, I also know that serenity awaits my clients in the sanctuary of my massage room. There, the client is cocooned by instrumental music and the soft darkness of the curtained room into letting go of time and space as my well-practiced hands transport the client to bliss. It’s an hourlong vacation that can last for days.

On the news front

Massage helps control nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients. As reported in the August 2003 issue of Massage Today, 31 female cancer patients receiving high doses of chemotheraphy following stem-cell transplants were evaluated to determine the effects of massage therapy on nausea and vomiting. Patients in the treatment group had a 48 percent decrease inthe number of days they suffered from nausea and vomiting, a 12 percent decrease in the length of their hospital stays, a 91 percent decrease in the number of days of total parenteral nutrition, and a 30 percent increase in prealbumin levels over the control group. More information:

CranioSacral Therapy points

The Still Point is used as a balancing technique for the CranioSacral System. It releases accumulated stress and breaks through old restrictions, and it has a profound relaxing effect on the autonomic nervous system. It helps regulate blood pressure and labor pains, and it decreases pain as well as a fever by up to 4 degrees. It is not to be used in case of acute stroke cerebral aneurysm or any condition in which fluid pressure changes within the skull could be detrimental. A Still Point can be induced anywhere on the body in which the therapist holds the body part at the extreme of extension, preventing the body from going into its flexion stage. Typically, a therapist induces a Still Point at CV-4, the point on the skull above the neck at the back of the head. A person can induce a Still Point by himself or herself by lying face up, legs outstretched and legs and feet rotated inward. Breathe deep and relax for a few minutes. CranioSacral information:

Stretch of the month

Horizontal Flexion II, from “Active Isolated Stretching” by Aaron L. Mattes:

Method: Reach hand around to opposite side of neck. Contract pectoralis major, anterior deltoid and coracobrachialis muscles. Walk the fingers down the upper back as far as possible. Place free hand on elbow of exercising arm for gentle assistance at end of movement. Hold stretch for two seconds, breathing out and counting “one one thousand, two one thousand” before breathing in and releasing. Return the arm to side after each repetition.

Muscles stretched: Trapezius and rotator cuff, including supraspinatus, infraspinatus and teres minor muscles.

Muscles contracted: Pectoralis major, anterior deltoid and coracobrachialis.

Compensation check: Do not allow exercising shoulder to shrug or move forward during the exercise.

Repetitions: 8-10 for each arm.

More information:

Hike of the month

Weis Ecology Center trails, 150 Snake Den Road, Ringwood, N.J.

Directions: Interstate 287 to Exit 55 (Wanaque/Pompton Lakes). Turn right at light onto Route 511/Ringwood Avenue. Go 4 miles, then turn left onto West Brook Road between a painted rock and a restaurant. Continue about 2 miles on West Brook around a reservoir, bearing left at a fork in the road. Go past Townsend Road and make next left onto Snake Den Road. Park in first large parking area on the right.

Trail: Backtrack north on the road a short distance until you see on the right the trail head for the red and yellow blazed trails. The first mile or so is fairly flat or downhill as you stay on the red trail. Follow the white trail to the left when it intersects with the red trail. Turn right onto the yellow trail when it intersects the white trail.

Then starts the payoff–in short succession, four short, steep climbs, each leading to a view to the north and east that is better than the last. Turn right onto the blue trail when it intersects the yellow trail. This leads to some good views to the south and west before descending the mountain in fairly rapid order. At the bottom, follow the green blazes to the right to bring you out to Snake Den Road. This hike took me 2 1/2 hours at a steady, slow clip with no breaks on a steamy August Saturday.

An option on weekends through the end of September is to cool off at the Highlands Natural Pool on the south end of the Weis Ecology Center Property. This hidden gem of the Highlands is an Olympic-size, stream-fed, chemical-free pool, part of the old Camp Midvale and now run by a nonprofit group with room for picnickers and volleyball players as well.

Three uses of the pool are permitted for nonmembers, $5 for the first visit, $10 each visit for the second and third. After a hot, sweaty hike, it’s a refreshing way to be re-invigorated for the ride home. Information:

A final word

from Silent Unity at

“All of us want to believe that healing is possible, and our belief is strengthened when we know that people like ourselves have prayed and have been healed.

“Deep within each of us is the belief that if others have been healed through prayer, then we can be, too. Our nature is to strive upward continually, and if we begin to feel discouraged or depressed, we need only to hear or read about someone who has overcome a difficult condition and we are inspired to keep on keeping on. We are bolstered in courage; we are renewed in faith.

“Healing of every condition is possible. No condition is incurable where is faith in God’s power.”

Until next time … be well.

Dennis Sprick
The Heartful Touch
Massage and CranioSacral Therapy