Robert Byrnes has been providing massage therapy in a professional setting since 1994, and integrates several modalities for a unique treatment that is individualized to each client's needs. He provides therapeutic treatments by appointment in his Phoenix, Arizona office: 602-334-1919.
Relaxation massage (aka: Swedish massage) starts with a meditative approach that promotes deep relaxation. This method emphasizes the use of a slower rhythm with a longer, sustained flowing touch that relieves stress, and integrates the entire body system, bringing it into balance.
I seek to facilitate increased awareness into the client's body. My yoga practice has taught me much about mindfulness. By focusing on the breath and quieting the mind, the client can relax even more into the present moment. The client is feeling instead of thinking. From this place of being grounded and centered in the body, we discover a deeper connection, and the transformative, healing energy intensifies.
I also incorporate Aromatherapy with this treatment. Currently, I use essential oils from Amphora Aromatics.
I have performed the Esalen style of massage almost exclusively since the summer of 2002, when I first began integrating the Esalen approach and philosophy in earnest. The people at Esalen, the land, the ocean, and the natural mineral hot spring; this is a sacred place. And it was at Esalen that I reconnected with my Spirit and reinvented my massage practice.
I am an artist and my massage is a dance. I integrate detailed structural work with long, flowing strokes that relax and reconnect the whole-body; top to bottom, front to back, and side to side. My massage is meditative and connected to Spirit.
As the client surrenders to the experience of purely receiving massage and healing touch, my creative effort increases and becomes more intuitively guided - specific to that client's body. The massage session becomes a dance - the receiver and the giver are energetically connected and engaged in a communication of movement, flowing together with the life-force energy, achieving the greatest degree of relaxation and healing.
What is the difference between Esalen massage and deep tissue massage? Esalen focuses on the quality of the touch. So in deep tissue massage we are focused on inducing change in the body. But we don't just hack at it mechanically with brute force. Esalen informs us that we can work with great strength and power in a relaxed and flowing manner when we know the body and how to engage it with full consciousness. So, it isn't that they are different, it's that Esalen massage allows one to take the practice of deep tissue massage to a level of deeper connection and transformation.
Although I am not officially "Esalen Certified," I have completed 168 hours of Esalen Massage training through the following Esalen massage workshops:
Five Day Massage Intensive
with Brita Ostrom and Vicki Topp
June 28 to July 7, 1998
Five Day Massage Intensive
with Vicki Topp and Tom Case
June 23 to 28, 2002
Intermediate/Advanced Massage Intensive
with Kathleen O'Shaughnessy and Perry Holloman
May 18 to 23, 2003
Advanced Esalen Massage - A Body Meditation
with Peggy Horan, C. Jay Bradbury and Sylvia Guersenzvaig
November 9 to 14, 2003
Advanced Massage Intensive: Current Directions in Esalen Massage
with Dean Marson, Vicki Topp, and Daniela Urbassek
May 8 to 20, 2005
Known worldwide, Esalen massage is a unique, holistic style of bodywork which focuses on the whole person. In this easy-to-use instructional program, you'll be able to simultaneously view the video while giving an Esalen massage. Shot entirely on location at the acclaimed Esalen Institute, you'll learn:
• How to give a complete, full-body session from head to toe
• How to prepare your space and address any special concerns
• How to establish rapport as well as "sense" your client's breathing and notice other physical and nonphysical cues
• How to integrate the various elements and massage techniques
• Which elements are common to any Esalen massage
• How to "grow" in sensitivity and awareness as you give or receive massage
At Peace Media also has some excellent interviews and articles on Esalen Massage.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
©1927 Max Ehrmann
We are presently enjoying a renaissance in the art of touch in this country. Esalen massage practitioners have contributed considerably to the reinstatement of this delicate means of interfacing between human beings, in a flowing style that is a marriage between classical Swedish massage, with its precise manner of working with muscles and circulatory system, and the deeply personal sensing work brought from Germany by Charlotte Selver. We offer our clients what we have individually and collectively discovered and refined in our concentrated hands-on work in a variety of approaches over the past 30 years. Styles which may appear simple to the on looker have many levels of conceptual understanding interwoven with tactile sensitivity, elegant awareness and heartfelt communication. At times we find ourselves spontaneously touching levels of the emotional body and even spirit.
Our work began to ripen in the early 1960's. It was remarkably enhanced by the dynamic environmental elements unique to this small coastal experimental community. Gradually, individual styles began to expand and cross-pollinate, then become concise concepts, which still further expanded, until a larger picture of the physical/emotional/spiritual human began to emerge and be sung to through touch.
Massage is "structured touching" or touching with purpose. This purpose may be directed towards relieving muscle pain and stress, increasing body awareness, or bringing equilibrium to a life in crisis. Tangible outcomes can be experienced in the active stimulation of skin, lymph and blood, relaxation of the muscles and nervous system, elimination of metabolic waste, stretching of connective tissues and release of a tranquilizing effect into the entire organism through the parasympathetic nervous system. It is a healthy way of handling stress.
The recipient is gently urged to become an active participant through heightened awareness and surrendering to a deep sensing place. Long, lengthening strokes with gentle rocking and stretching, passive joint movement, sculpting of deep musculature, delicate cranial balancing, subtle neural reeducation and the precision of Chinese point work are all part of the somatic offering. Personal attention takes precedence over technique; thus each massage session is unique in itself.
Bodywork happens any time you focus attention on the life of your body, whether while playing sports, working in your garden, or simply feeling your feet on the floor. Thus the meditation of receiving touch from another is part of a large picture of richness which can put you very firmly in touch with your more personal self, since sensation is our primary connection to reality.
We invite you to be with us.
- Esalen Practitioners
People who have experienced Esalen Massage agree that it is an extraordinary form of bodywork. This unique style of massage integrates the whole body with long strokes, blending wisdom and techniques from other cultures, and weaves new concepts of subtle energy with bodywork. Esalen massage evolved from the contributions of early teachers at this center for experimental education and it continues to expand and grow as present-day practitioners add to the whole.
"I can't say if it was the touch of the air on my skin, the sound of the ocean waves in my ear, the long sure stroke of the practitioner's hand gliding along my spine, or the sense I had that every move matched my response. Whatever it was, I've never experienced anything like this before." With these words, the lucky recipient stretched, stood up, and gazed over the rail at the sea beyond. "I feel like I'm all connected up again."
Such comments are not surprising at the Esalen Institute, established in 1962, situated in Big Sur, California (between Santa Lucia Mountains and the Pacific Coastline). It's diverse workshops form an educational springboard to the further reaches of human potential and it's a spiritual retreat where those suffering from burnout seek solace. It's organic gardens and hot sulfur springs are the heart of a healing spa. Workshops include specific massage moves and sequences it is more the "glue between the moves" that defines this approach to bodywork. This glue is found in the contact between the practitioner and receiver from the minute their eyes meet; the way the hands respond to the clients signals of contraction and release, pain and relaxation; the attention to the whole person rather than a summary of parts; and a shared observation of the innate capacity for self-healing within.
No Quick Fix
This contact precludes the notion that the practitioner is going to fix the client. Instead, the practitioner enables the client to tune into his or her own database of sensation, emotion and mobility. The practitioner is both facilitator and witness to this process; her or she is neither the agent of change nor the healer. The practitioner delineates the problem, the client clears it up. In the process the client may discover how much energy was expanded to maintain the problem in the first place.
The open-air quality of Esalen massage and the interpersonal contact banish the authoritative stance of the more traditional health practitioner, allowing the client an active role in the session. Practitioner may encourage breathe, use colorful images to suggest a relaxed state, and bring the clients attention to holding patterns, rather than simply relying on deep muscle work.
The most important aspect style wise or technique wise is not technique at all, but the quality of the touch. This refers to the presence of the practitioner and the ability of this person to tune into the client, to be sensitive, and to pick up messages. Esalen encourages talking to all clients before working on them, but it is just as important to be able to sense in, and to be present enough to hear the messages that come through the body.
Massage at Esalen is a mindfulness exercise; both giver and receiver are called to full presence and attention. In the beginning and all through an Esalen massage session the intention is kept in the foreground of the therapist's mind. If a person is here for a particular type of healing, that needs to be kept in mind; if a person comes in and says they're exhausted, they need some rejuvenation, or they need to replenish themselves, hold that thought and try to give from the place in ourselves that allows the energy to pass through to and to refill them.
Esalen teaches people how to touch. What I mean by that is how to touch with sensitivity and in a non-intrusive and nurturing way. It teaches people to enter the energy field of another person with sensitivity and respect. It is important to move through that energy field gently and with awareness before making physical contact. The first touch is held for a moment before the movement starts. The client begins to relax and trust in the practitioners hands. At this crucial moment, clients will often take a deep breath and begin to relax as their internal voices say, I feel trusting and comfortable. This intuitive connection between the massage therapist and the client is thus established.
The Journey Continues
Many of the practitioners working at the Esalen Institute have innovated and refined this non-invasive approach to the body, which invites a response rather than demands one. They continue to research ways to make their work more effective. Over time, they have seen the wisdom and effectiveness of listening within, of letting the massage create an environment that allows for a return to optimal health, of reaching inside to the impulse toward balance rather than to impose and fix from an external "expert" stance. They have seen lives prolonged, steps become lighter, laughter return as people attain a respect for their bodies and an acknowledgment of the messages and intelligence they contain. Esalen massage today defines itself as a way of exploring, person to person, a matrix of physical, psychological, energetic and spiritual awareness united by the balm of touch.