Working With Respect

Prior to my first LaStone Therapy workshop with Mary Nelson in 1997, I was a typical massage therapist with a background in sports and medical massage. My approach at the time was very one-dimensional and the notion of associating spirituality with my work never occurred to me. However, during that first workshop with Mary, I learned about working with intent. I learned the importance of being aware of the energy that we all have when we work, but the bigger question remains what to do with this energy and how do we channel it into our massage work? The answer for me was through the use of stones.

Both hot and cold stones are used in the treatment. The cold stones are hand-carved white marble, the hot stones are basalt, river, or lava stones. Unlike the cold stones, the basalt stones are generally not cut, though often they are tumbled to make them more acceptable for body work.

The cold is essential for balancing the treatment. It reduces the possibility of soreness and speeds the healing process. It balances the natural heat inside the body. The client actually will not feel the cold stone as cold because our sense of hot and cold are very similar. When either stone is first applied, the body brings blood to the area. Once the cold stone stays there, the blood flow recedes naturally, and then it returns once the cold is removed. So there is a great deal going on during the use of cold stones.

Working with stones is a very humbling experience, yet there comes a time when the stones become one with your hands and your work develops a rhythm all its own. And if you let the spirits be your guide, you and your client will be transported to a spiritual plane that words alone cannot define or describe. The stones will take you to this place only if you can accept that they are more than mere tools for massage.

The spirit comes to each of us in different ways. When you open your mind and soul, the spirit will not only influence your work, but it will change the energy in the room and allow you to achieve a new level in your bodywork. To me it is this connection, this spiritual catalyst that makes the difference between massage simply done with stones and the practice of Deep Tissue Healing β€œThe Art Of Stone Massage.” I still do the same type of work, but now I no longer work alone. My massage work is no longer linear or based solely in the physical realm. A circle has formed by bringing the spiritual aspect into the work.

When I was asked to develop a deep tissue workshop, I decided to read some of the books suggested by Mary in her manual. One of the books I read was Stone People Medicine, which led me to The Road to the Sundance, two books written by Manny Twofeathers, a Sundancer and Native American spiritual healer who uses stones in his work. His books and teachings have greatly influenced my life as well as my approach to my work. The Deep Tissue Healing workshop is an outgrowth of these teachings. I truly believe that the word healing could not have been a part of this title if it were not for the guidance and inspiration of Manny Twofeathers.

January 06, 2011 by Bruce Baltz
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