My first massage was given to me by my husband. Fie was not my husband at the time. Fie was a handsome young artist who had come to Big Sur hoping to pursue his art and live a life closer to the land. Fie was making his living giving massages at Esalen Institute. I was a young New Yorker, exploring the cutting edge of the culture at Esalen, a center for the exploration of human potential. I had never experienced massage until my first visit there. Esalen is located on the magical California coast, where the mountains dramatically meet the sea.
Being touched and caressed, being massaged is food for the infant. Food as necessary as minerals, vitamins, and proteins. Deprived of this food, the name of which is love, babies would rather die. And they often do.
—Frederick Leboyer, Loving Hands
The hot sulfur springs that gush from the cliffs offer their healing waters to bathers, as they have since the days of the original caretakers of the land, the Esselen Native Americans. The beauty of the place, combined with the openness of those who lived there, completely enchanted me. Esalen was exploring cultural changes, pushing the boundaries of the known, and the times were ripe with questioning institutions and beliefs regarding life, love, psychology, religion, and spirituality.
I moved to Big Sur in the fall of 1969, unsure of what I would do there, knowing only that it was a place of truth for me and I had a lot to learn. For a while I worked in the Esalen kitchen as a dessert cook, and I soon found this was not my path. I was very drawn to massage. I loved receiving a session on the deck of the baths, warmed by the sun, feeling the oil penetrate my thirsty skin and sore muscles, feeling the tenderness and presence of my practitioner. I was moved in new ways and was beginning to feel what I was looking for, which was a deeper connection to my soul, a sense of balance in my own body, mind, and spirit. I felt compelled to learn this art, this craft, this healing practice that felt so deep and so profound. I began to study Esalen massage.
Chapter 1. Preparing for the Massage
Chapter 2. Giving & Receiving a Massage
Chapter 3. The Backrub & the Neck & Shoulder Massage
Chapter 4. The Foot Massage
Chapter 5. Building Connection Through Trust
Chapter 6. Conclusion