First of Nine: Tensegrity Blog

Portland, Oregon's Cancer Survivorship and Bodywork Zine by Compassion Arts PDX, LLC

Compassion, brainwaves and haptic perception, plus September’s Taking Care Portland

Ya know what got me into massage school?

I was rear-ended in Oly…. That’s Olympia, Washington.

I began seeing a physical therapist. He had me remove my upper garment and lay prone on a table. He applied lubrication to my thoracic and lumbar spine.

With one hand, he made a tiger claw, using his fingertips to move in a circular motion into the superficial most muscle layer.

With his other hand, he held a magazine. Reading.

That was my last visit to that particular physical therapist. Apathy is quite transparent.

I enrolled in massage school later that year. Gonna find a better way.


Near as I can tell, I started meditating when I was three years old. Opened eyed meditations, letting vision soften to bokeh, starring at the shiny, greens and silvers of the multi-textured wallpaper in my parent’s bedroom. It’s lead me to spending time with Buddhists, Sufis and a Shaman or two. A personal exploration of the senses. Of the breath.

Oh, course there’s nothing like opening up a breath mechanic and finding what’s on the other side.

First of Nine Top Tip: Lift the tail on the inhalation; tuck on the exhalation. Sacrum and coccyx, pumping cerebral spinal fluid all the way into the ventricles of the deep brain. Lotta Ruffini mechanoreceptors in dura mater, don’t ya know? psst… Ruffini mechanoreceptors respond to slow, transverse shearing and reach the autonomic nervous system anywhere the body is engaged. Lil tidbit from Dr. Robert Schleip’s work at the University of Ulm, Germany.

BrainWave app for all iOS devices. This is a screen cap from the iPad version.

My studies of meditation have lead me to some rather keen, high tech sound tools. Binaural beats and isochronic tones are used in brainwave entrainment apps. I regularly use BrainWave on the iPad to create a minimal, yet sensory rich environment conducive to meditative states.

This is from the help file of BrainWave, an excellent brainwave entrainment tool on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Binaural beats (or binaural tones) are designed to be used with headphones. A tone is played in one ear. In the other ear, another tone is played, perhaps 2 Hz off from the first. The human brain interprets this as a beat. Meditative states ensue. Kick back, breathe, rinse, repeat. Try it for 20 minutes… Work your way up to an hour.

From the help file in BrainWaves…

Below is a description of the ranges of brainwave frequencies used by the BrainWave Programs. In addition to the base frequencies we also use border frequencies, layered frequencies, and unique sequences of base frequencies designed specifically for each program. These techniques are what allow this application to create such finely tuned mental states and experiences.

Gamma (30-44 Hz)
Associated with high-level information processing, multi-tasking, and high energy

High-Beta (18-29 Hz)
Associated with mental activities such as math, planning

Mid-Beta (15-17 Hz)
Increased problem solving ability, focus, and alertness

Low-Beta (12-14 Hz)
Relaxed, yet still mentally sharp

High-Alpha (10-11 Hz)
Relaxed, centered, tranquil

Low-Alpha (8-9 Hz)
Relaxed, almost meditative but still aware

Theta (4-7 Hz)
Increased creativity, intuition, dreamlike states

Delta (.5-3 Hz)
Deep relaxation, dreamless sleep

I wonder how many brainwave shifts happen when receiving or giving a massage? Bygones.

Get to know the human brain as accessed through the senses. In Til Luchau’s recent webinar on proprioception and interoception, hosted by the ABMP, he spoke of haptic perception. The sense of touch. It begins to develop at seven weeks in the womb. It becomes fully developed by thirteen weeks. It’s our first sense to open. Haptic perception is a part of our cognition far, far before language develops as a communicative tool. It is the first sentience… The awareness of oneself though touch.

Here’s a little tidbit. The resonance frequency of the earth during significant electromagnetic activity in the atmosphere is 7.83 Hz. This is known as the Schumann’s resonance.

The dynamic, non-linear fascia tensegrity architecture of the human body, represented by a play structure at the Waldorf School in Milwaukie, Oregon.

Haptic perception is one of our senses, beyond the five basics.

C’mon… We all the know the five, basics, eh? Sight. Sound. Smell. Taste. Touch.

That’s about where they stop in our educational system.

So, what’s beyond the five basic senses?

Proprioception. The sense of our bones and joints within space and time. We have an elaborate, ornate, elegant, non-linear, dynamic sensory gathering organ in the human being. Our myofascial network. A vastly adapting sensory organ with smooth muscle-like contractility, and up to six-times the sensory information of muscle fiber. We, human beings, are of a mathematical complexity that continues to remodel itself from intended use, function, environment, diet, gesture and thought patterns. A moment to moment remodeling in our fascial complexity. We are amazing. We are adaptable. We are nueroplastic. Like few other critters on this planet that have ever walked or oozed or skipped (It’s Muddy! Mudskipper!).

Equilibrium. Balance. Just put one foot in front of the other. And, soon you’ll be walking out the door. A controlled fall, catching oneself on the plummet, and redirecting that energy into momentum. Catching the wind. Tacking into the sun. Physics.

Interoception. Gut feeling. Gut reaction. If you’ve ever had a stomach ache or felt your heart beating strong in your chest, you’ve experienced an inner sensation of yourself. It’s the difference between feeling your heart rate by putting a finger on a steady pumping vein and just tuning in and feeling the lub-dub, lub-dub of your own heart, while in a quiet place.

Explore your senses! Get haptic!

Taking Care Portland, a long-term perspective of cancer survivorship, September 22nd, 2012 at NCNM in Portland, Oregon. Photography by Laurel Jacobson

Is it at all odd that Dr. Who figures prominently in my business plan as a massage therapist? Companions. To expand the possibilities of a single, brilliant mind with other beautiful minds… Minds that work in such very different, yet harmonious ways. I understand Joan Halilfax‘s plea in her impassioned TED Talk on compassion and the true meaning of empathy, asking compassionate folks to find partnership and collaboration.

We’re building a think tank of compassionate studies here in Portlandia. I am honored to be collaborating with Daniel Miller and MaryJane Hoadley, plus many others, including licensed massage therapists, acupuncturists, naturopaths, farmers and oncologists to create Taking Care Cancer. The nutritional branch, Adalu Stew is developing a food delivery program, currently in beta, for those living with cancer and survivors. A food delivery program done right. A locovores delight, with local, organic, sustainable, wheat-free, gluten-free, dairy free, choices. The food as medicine perspective. Daniel and MaryJane are helping to connect oncologists, naturopaths, farmers and chefs. And, now we’re bringing massage therapy, sound therapy and acupuncture into the conversation of long-term cancer survivorship.

Compassion fires the motor cortex. Neuroscience tells us that. As research leads to the deepening study of the human brain and will, compassion compels us to reach out and lay hands on a shoulder, to provide nourishment and education. To lay a gentle, listening hand where one protects, armours and holds. Where do you hold your stress, your trauma, your loss? Taking Care is holding the space for one to experience the haptic. We hold license to touch. And, we intend to bring evidence based observation to the long-term effects of being nurtured in one’s community.

My friends, I’d like to introduce Taking Care: Community Exploration of Long Term Cancer Survivorship. We’re building beautiful, meaningful, transformative experience into our long-term health perspective. Building community with intention.

In September of 2012, we held our second event at NCNM in Portland, Oregon. It was a beautiful day. In June, we were in a single room. This time, we added rooms for acupuncture, check-in and cancer resources. The massage and sound therapy room were in the Great Hall. Snazzy acoustics in there!

The cancer resources room included some amazing folks from our community:

• Pacific Northwest Kale Chips
• Portland Juice Press
• Integrated Light Therapy
• Nature Cures Clinic
• Berri Health
• Salt, Fire and Time
• Dr. Louise Rose, ND

Weeks after the event, we continue to receive phone calls and emails from folks who want to help out.

The next Taking Care Portland will be Saturday, January 19th at NCNM in Portland, Oregon! For more information, please visit our website…

Right now, we’re reaching towards non-profit status. Portland is responding with loads of support as we craft a model for long-term cancer survivorship. And, we’d love it if you’d like to share your gifts and help out! It’s 2012. The seeds are sprouting.

“Come on. Be extraordinary!” -Dr. Who

Hamid : )

Music bonus!

There’s music in me that will never be heard by another human soul, played only for me, the pups and the wind. When that last note trickles long, I breath deep, into the false ribs, a subtle lift of the sacrum. Music is a journey, an unfolding. My hands shake. The viscera opens to breath. My body is Rumi’s reed flute. The entire myofascial matrix, this three-dimensional, dynamic, non-linear tensegrity model of glyocogen-filled microvacules conducts and senses vibration. Down into the trebeculae in our bones, where there are high concentrations of pressure sensitive interstitial mechanoreceptors. Wavelength. Sound. The human body is sensate beyond the modern capabilities of quantification.

There’s a train howling in the distance, like a mamma bear who’s lost her cub.

“The Sun rose, and the world was filled with sight enough and sound to deceive all but the dead and blind and wise.” -The Ronin, William Dale Jennings

Oh, and some days I hit record… This is Extra Cellular Matrix

Just finding First of Nine: Tensegrity Blog? Deep dive with massage articles, photography, video and music in Stumptown’s Massage and Bodywork Zine!

Bringing massage to cancer survivorship
Self-care and massage therapy
A Stumptown massage day

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2 comments on “Compassion, brainwaves and haptic perception, plus September’s Taking Care Portland

  1. Pingback: Minimalist running and the sensate massage therapist | First of Nine: Tensegrity Blog

  2. Pingback: Myofascial Mechanoreceptors | First of Nine: Tensegrity Blog

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This entry was posted on November 2, 2012 by in Massage and Bodywork and tagged , , , , , , .

Compassion Arts PDX, LLC

Hamid Shibata Bennett, LMT, CAMT (OBMT #301)
Advanced massage therapy and bodywork
3810 SE Belmont ST
Portland, Oregon 97214

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