Portland, Oregon's Cancer Survivorship and Bodywork Zine by Compassion Arts PDX, LLC
A year or two back, I attended a lecture in Portland, Oregon with Jon Young, an animal tracker of the highest notoriety.
The lecture began with indigenous chant and drum. More lectures ought to begin with some kind of attunement. The vibration, the wavelength of sound reaches every cell in the human body. Bygones.
Jon Young talked about the mentoring relationships found within the Kalahari Bushman. When he asked other tracking tribes round the globe who the best trackers were, they all pointed to the Kalahari Bushman. Yeah, sounds like they are the folks to study.
He found a community where every young person is brought up in a world of mentoring. There are no classes, no schools, no experts.
“Every child has as many mentors as they have significant relationships in their life. And, that mentoring relationship lasts from birth until that elder passes on.” -Jon Young from his talk on mentoring and connection in indigenous cultures
Jon devised a test to gauge tracking skill and knowledge. The Ph.D’s in the western world, the learned experts, tested the equivalent to a 13 year old child in the Kalahari Bushman tribe. Mentoring and the multi-dimensional connection and understanding it brings is all but a lost art in the western world.
Deep tissue massage with Daniel Morrissey, LMT (OBMT #14749) Photography by Hamid Shibata Bennett
It’s an art that I’m beginning to see develop in our massage and bodywork community with some renewed interest. Developing our bodywork community in collaborative effort to serve the multi-faceted health care needs of the people.
When mentoring crosses disciplines, how will this that affect the communication in the community? When we get naturopaths talking with oncologists, making sure high anti-oxidant supplements don’t conflict with chemotherapy or radiation. Yup, that’s right. Some supplements, such as fish oil, protects our body so well, that it will nullify the cancer-fighting ability of chemotherapy and still give ya all the side effects, like nausea and hair loss. Let’s get this dialogue going folks!
My first mentor in the massage world of Portlandia was April Sykes-Trebelhorn, LMT (OBMT #11557). I was trying out all sorts of massage therapists… Always searching for the kinesthetically gifted folk. I answered her craigslist ad. This was back in the day when craigslist’s therapeutic section was free and monitored by the bodywork community for unlicensed massage. It was a fantastic resource that has totally lost it’s way after craigslist decided to charge for a listing. Bygones.
I made an appointment and we geeked out over life and bodywork during the whole session. Through her work, I became aware of connections within my soft-tissue that no one has ever shown me. Totally chakra opening, fascia melting bodywork.
I paid her for the session and she insisted she wasn’t taking any more money from me. Said that we should trade from that moment on and she could learn a lot from me.
Hold the phone. Back then, I’m a brand new punk kid on the block, in practice for maybe a year. Still floundering my flippers and working part-time at the translation agency. What the heck do I know?!
April took me under her wing and we have traded off and on for years. The friendship of bodywork, the conversation of the kinesthetic language evolved and continued each time. And, I have grown and learned so much from that continuing conversation; lessons found in no classroom.
I wouldn’t be the massage therapist I am today, if not for that friendship. And, I have many other friendships and mentors in the community. Some, we do trades and others I’m more than happy to pay their going rate. The conversation of healing picks back up at any point, any time ya dip your hands in the sea.
“Compassion is comprised of that capacity to see clearly into the nature of suffering.” -Joan Halifax from her Ted Talk on Compassion and the True Meaning of Empathy.
It’s not something I expected when I got in the bodywork game… This community that forms around you. A community of compassion and caring. A different health care model from the old guard. Folks that give a damn.
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