Thursday, March 1, 2012


“The movement of Soul beyond the human senses is such a natural process that one is likely to overlook it in its simplicity.”

- Harold Klemp     

Indecent Inquiry

A few times, have I been asked by some prospective clients if I offer Esalen massage. There are even those who actually have an insinuating question of whether I perform a 100% body Esalen that involves complete nudity and "release". It is sad and rather offending for any Professional Massage Therapist to be asked that way. These are clients who are looking for something else that has been guised under "Esalen". It seems that nowadays Esalen Massage is being used as a "code" by those who offer sexual services for financial gains. They probably do not even know the true essence of the modality.

Well, first of all, it is not legal to perform Esalen Massage without certification from the sole educational provider of this modality - Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California (pictured above). It is trademarked under them, and even advertising Esalen Massage without their certification is not legal. You can advertise "Esalen-inspired Massage", but not Esalen Massage per se.

So, what exactly is Esalen, and why are so many prospective clients misconstrue this technique with something sexual?

-Leo Feraer-Oporto     

Esalen Massage

Esalen Massage (EM) is known for its healing and nurturing touch; it combines long strokes, gentle rocking and stretching, sculpting of deep musculature and the precision of acupressure. However, EM goes beyond the physical result of bodywork by focusing on energy exchange and psychological well-being. Taught and trademarked by the Esalen Institute, EM aims to tune the mind and body together to create a sense of serenity and peace. (- Esalen Institute)

Ten key aspects of the Esalen technique for practitioners include:
1. Grounding yourself before giving a massage.
2. Waiting and listening to the client's breath before making initial contact.
3. Gentle rocking to help the body let go of rigidity.
4. Creating a unified and whole massage defined by long, lengthening
5. Making small circular movements around joints to encourage release.
6. Bringing the whole body weight into the movement.
7. A little unpredictability to ease away holding patterns.
8. Allowing time to pause.
9. Understanding that massage goes beyond the physical self.
10. Remembering that everybody loves and wants to be touched.

Why misconstrue Esalen with Sexual Contact?

With sexual taboos and innuendos that exist in the western culture, most people may relate "Nudity" with Sexuality... Esalen historically involves nudity.

Esalen and Nudity

At the Esalen Institute, there are clothing optional areas. Although Esalen's clothing optional policy has long been challenged, most guests go nude at the hot springs and ardently defend their right to do so.

While clients have the option of shedding their clothing during an EM session at Esalen Institute, this decision is made by the client only if he or she is completely comfortable with nudity. Because massage recipients traditionally soak in the hot springs prior to their EM appointment, this setting supports nudity as a natural state.

During the course of the massage, the EM client is draped with a sheet or towel. When massage therapists are trained at Esalen, they are instructed to proceed very gently and introduce people to massage in the most non-threatening way possible. Outside of Esalen Institute's setting, this means giving clients an option of being fully clothed, wearing undergarments or going nude. Despite the level of covering or uncovering massage recipients choose, professional draping practices assures a non-threatening atmosphere.

In general, our society has very little acceptance of nudity. As a massage practitioner, respecting client privacy is crucial for professionalism and to prevent major psychological implications that could result from bearing all. Esalen Massage's unique approach to integrating the physical, emotional and spiritual selves has been appreciated by clients and practitioners for decades. Regardless of where the massage is performed, helping a client find serenity and peace is independent of Esalen Institute's optional clothing practice.

For those who wanted to experience true Esalen, you can benefit from the innate wisdom of this massage techniques and pass it along to your clients while maintaining the professionalism and ethics required in a legitimate massage therapy practice and what is permitted by your State of Practice. The genitals, and the female breasts are not included in Esalen. It DOES NOT involve sexual contact, and nudity is never a requirement.

To view the complete details of Esalen Institute, Esalen Massage and the source of these excerpts visit:

- Leo Feraer-Oporto     

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