My Letter to the Editor in Massage magazine (July/August 1995) was addressed to individuals interested in a network concerned with spiritual aspects of massage. The response indicates a widespread desire to share such information. The Spiritual Massage Ministry Newsletter will provide space for a network to satisfy that need. But individuals should also know about organizations concerned with spiritual bodywork. This Directory meets that additional need. Eventually a federation of these organizations should be established so that information about spiritual bodywork may also be shared on that level. Co-creative bodywork is included in the Directory because it involves working in a co-creative partnerhsip with nature spirits, other nature intelligences, and members of the White Brotherhood. It is therefore spiritual bodywork.
Spiritual Wellness Network
523 N. 66th Street, Wauwatosa, WI 53213
"The SWN began in 1991 as a nonsectarian organization for health and human service professionals. As a group we are interested in the link between spirituality, health and well-being. Members share knowledge and resources to create a cooperative learning, caring, and sharing environment. We support one another in earnest efforts to integrate spirituality into our personal and professional lives.
"We work in organizations large and small, from Fortune 500 companies to one person operations. We live on the East and West Coasts, the Midwest, the South, Canada -- even Portugal. We are Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Quaker, New Age, and agnostic. Some of us are affiliated with mainline religions while others never attend a formal church. Among us are university professors, nurses, doctors, clergy, social workers, psychologists, health educators and others ... we are spiritual wellness creators from all walks of life. An intimate group (about 100 strong), we are leaders in the movement to bring spirituality and health back together again.
"Members receive our publication, the Spiritual Wellness Quarterly, which contains articles, research abstracts, news updates, book reviews, a calendar of events, and more. Each year, every member can post one free 30-word notice on the message board in the Quarterly. You'll also get a membership directory that will tell you how to link up with other members who share your interests and concerns."
New England Academy of Co-Creative Science, Inc.
Rev. Mary L. Brewster, M.Ed.;P.O. Box 818, Somers, CT 06071-0818
(Note: The following has been amended from the original issue of SMMN Vol.1,No.2. The goals and mission of the church have changed. We are in the process of changing the name of the church to: The Union of Spiritual Stewardship, Inc. The following reflects this changes.)
The Union of Spiritual Stewardship, Inc. is a non-denominational, spiritual/religious corporation who's purpose is to practice Somatic Educationsm within a Spiritual Healing Ministry. Somatic Educationsm is a spiritual health science and the primary interest of this Academy. Somatic Educationsm has its own curriculum (course content), dialectic (investigative reasoning by dialogue), didactics (systematic instruction) and pedagogics (art of teaching). It is taught and practiced with the understanding that a "partnership" with nature includes "stewardship" and both are an integral part of our participation in a spiritual union with all living things. The somatic educator teaches her students that the human body is part of this union and how to regain and maintain good health as a balance with and within this union.
The quintessential nature of Somatic Educationsm which distinguishes it as a unique health science is its concept of the human body as a partnership/stewardship with all living things. In these respects, Somatic Educationsm is qualitatively different from other kinds of somatic education, such as Hanna Somatic Education® which is defined as "the procedure for teaching voluntary conscious control of the neuromuscular system to persons suffering from muscular disorders of an involuntary, unconscious nature."
Somatic Educationsm is also qualitatively different from somatic therapies, massage therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. These therapeutic modalities -- which are defined legally and otherwise as symptom-directed, medically-oriented treatments -- are different from Somatic Educationsm because they do not consiously consider the human body as a part of a spiritual union, they are not taught and practiced in a conscious partnership and spiritual stewardship with all living things.
Care Through Touch Institute
2401 LeConte Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709
This Institute "is recognized nationally and internationally for pioneering an embodied approach to Christian spirituality". It integrates Christian spirituality, pastoral ministry and sacramental massage, which is the art of anointing, prayer and ritual. The following information is in the literature which the Institute distributes.
The Institute "is a pastoral training and health education center… at the forefront of a movement demonstrating the healing power of touch through action and research. It realizes the risk in speaking out for touch. Even though the wholesome art of massage was one of our earliest forms of caring for the sick and suffering, unhealthy attitudes about the body and sophisticated hands-off technology have often removed this holy art of caring from the very institutions that need it most.
"Abusive and violent touch has damaged many human lives throughout the world, but these risks from the shadow side of touch must not paralyze us or keep us from bringing this oldest form of human healing into the bright light of day. Loving touches reassure all of us of our inherent worth and goodness, increasing our capacity for creativity, joy and compassion. The Institute is committed to fan into flame its vision to educate and challenge churches, hospitals, schools, families and social agencies to bring more caring touch to their work." The following terms, phrases and comments are quoted from the Institute's literature:
Centering rituals appropriate to healing touch -- Christian spirituality -- pastoral ministry and Christian spirituality.
The ministry of massage -- the ministry of touch -- ministerial massage skills -- massage, the art of anointing -- massage as prayer and ritual -- massage skills [grounded] in a spirituality -- massage and healing touch [incorporated] into … ministries -- traditional massage techniques [combined] with theological reflection and pastoral ministry.
The sacredness of touch -- the sacredness of massage -- sacramental massage.
Spirituality of the body -- the body as sacrament -- the sacramentality of the body -- sacred symbolism of the body -- the sacrament of anointing the sick.
I came to realize that indeed my life was in my hands. -- The techniques of massage was embedded in my touch and my soul. -- At the heart of massage is the profound respect for the human person as the embodiment of God.
National Association of Bodyworkers in Religious Service
7603 Forsyth Boulevard, Clayton, MO 63105
The following report -- Philosophy of the National Association of Bodyworkers in Religious Service (NABRS) -- is reprinted with the permission of the author, Zach Thomas, President, NABRS, Summer, 1990.
Healing is a process directed by God who leads people into greater integrity, justice and compassion in relation to the earth, to one another and to God. Healing may include, but is not limited to, successful curing or repairing of physical problems. Even in dying, healing may still be occurring. [The] healing process may be facilitated in many ways. Healing which is encouraged by faith communities is an ancient tradition emphasizing the role of spiritual disciplines and laying-on-of-hands in the healing process.
Healing touch communicates heartfelt compassion to facilitate [the] healing process. Various methods of touch may be designed to achieve specific clinical goals. However, these technics are healing insofar as they coordinate with the larger healing process.
Anyone has the capacity to develop the God-given ability of healing touch. We call this capacity heart/hand coordination or H/HC. Unfortunately, western culture's high esteem of technology causes H/HC to be overlooked and undervalued compared with other capacities, such as hand/eye coordination, which is more directly useful to technical goals.
Healers/Bodyworkers, Healing Ministry and NABRS. We believe God's Spirit is calling many people to develop H/HC. Religious professionals who answer this call often use ancient healing arts (or bodywork), such as massage therapy, to learn the principles of H/HC and to shape it into some form of intentional healing touch.
Though the practice of healing touch shapes the vocational identity of the religious professional as a healer, this identity is always that of a steward of the healing process. Perhaps the less pretentious title, bodyworker, helps clarify this identity. Bodyworkers do not create or own the healing process. Rather, they facilitate what is already built into the creation. Furthermore, bodyworkers in religious service are not answering a call that pulls them as individuals into some tangential work. They are part of ancient traditions in which healing ministry is a natural and central expression of faith community.
A National Association of Bodyworkers in Religious Service (NABRS) is a sign that God's Spirit is bringing about a renewal of healing ministry. NABRS is part of the family of associations of health professionals who seek to integrate faith and work for healing purposes. However, NABRS differs from other groups in the family primarily in … two aspects:
1. Setting and Accountability. Members of NABRS characteristically carry out their vocations in settings more directly related to faith communities. For example, those trained in massage therapy may be employed in pastoral counseling offices or retreat centers. Thus, they are more likely to be accountable to religious authorities. Religious health professionals in other associations are oriented more toward realities of medical settings and are likely to report to authorities in those fields.
2. Method and Tradition. Members of NABRS use bodywork modalities from ancient healing arts and rituals of laying-on-of-hands. Historically, these modes have roots in faith communities. (Some societies integrated these modes into their health care systems.) Religious health professionals in other associations use methods allied with more technical traditions.
Mission. NABRS serves two purposes:
1. To bless, celebrate, nurture and clarify the emerging vocation of bodyworkers in religious service.
2. To educate faith communities who seek more creative and faithful healing ministries.
Context and Ethics. In carrying out its mission, NABRS intends to be conscious of its cultural context and ethical guidelines.
1. Context. Western culture suffers from an incredibly severe mind/body split alienating persons from feeling good in and about their bodies and ultimately affecting the way people relate to the earth and all physical reality. Symptoms of the split include a wide range of addictions and abusive behaviors rampant in our society. Though NABRS does not pretend to be expert in the complexities of rehabilitation from these illnesses, we do know that human touch can remind receivers (and givers) of their God-given goodness. Behaviors and attitudes reinforced by experience of this given goodness are more wholesome and fulfilling than the warfare with the body to which sufferers have become accustomed.
We think that other less visible symptoms also may point to root causes in the mind/body split -- for example, chronic stress and professional burnout. On a larger scale, the historical development of modern Christianity whose congregation and seminaries practically ignore healing ministry -- leaving somatic domains to medical experts and healing sects -- also may be another example of the way faith communities take on symptoms of their cultural context.
Utilizing skills of healing touch, therefore not only addresses root causes of many modern diseases. It performs a prophetic role, in running counter to unhealthy cultural attitudes and calling faith communities, to a closer connection to their roots in the healing arts.
2. Ethics. Ethical guidelines for NABRS emerge out of the wisdom of faith communities to which its members are accountable. These ethics especially address the religious practitioner's use of power and authority in the healing process. They constantly remind us that we exercise power and authority as stewards (facilitators, encouragers) of processes given and directed by God for the benefit of those in need of healing.
Inflating our power, we pretend that we control or direct healing process whenever we make specious claims for the efficacy of our techniques. Inflating our authority, we pretend that we own or originate healing process whenever we create clients dependent or subservient to our own purposes.
Both inflationary tendencies result in an approach that pulls the practitioner away from accountability to peers in healing ministry and ethical standards in faith community. We support holistic approaches to healing ministry not only because we think they are more realistic, given the multifaceted nature of human beings, but because they increase the ethical integrity of those who facilitate healing process.
Amazing Grace. Members of NABRS are not perfect. We fall short of facilitating healing process and experience the same remorse as anyone else who misses the goals of their vocation. However, both our failures and our successes teach us that we have entered healing ministry by the sheer grace of God. Therefore, we can never be more depressed by our mistakes -- or impressed by our achievements -- than we are inspired by God's grace. We take courage from the goodness surrounding us on every side. Like the Psalmist, we sing, He anoints my head with oil. My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…" (Psalm 23:6) And like disciples of Christ, we pray that "…We may be able to comfort those who are afflicted, with the same comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God…" (II Cor. 1:4)
Jan Walker'S Center for the Healing Arts and White Eagle Visions
105 Davis Road, Berkeley Springs, WV 25411
Our philosophy includes the following beliefs. The spiritual world and the physical world communicate with one another. We are spiritual beings in physical bodies governed by universal laws and by Divine Love which is God's energy. All illness and disease involve a spiritual imbalance and an imbalance of life energy. Humanity is intended to be divinely guided and work in partnership with God, the Christ Light energy, Mary Magdalena's consciousness, Spirit Guides, the Angelic Kingdom and the Nature Kingdoms. In this way, we help ourselves and others evolve spiritually and heal body, mind, and spirit.
Our program integrates a Spiritual Massage Healing Course and a Spiritual Sciences Course. The spiritual massage healing and energy healing include prayer, communication with the spiritual realm, the healing gifts of Nature, and Divine Love. We teach about the energy systems within the body, how these systems bring the Light of Spirit into our physical and emotional bodies, and how memories, emotions and blockages in muscles and cells are transformed to a higher spiritual energy frequency. This system of spiritual massage healing helps humans connect spiritually with the Universal Source of Light and Love (God), with one another and with all other life forms. Because all life forms have consciousness and are sacred, humans should work in a co-creative partnership with nature in order to live harmoniously with all life forms.
The National Center for Jewish Healing
9 East 69th Street, New York City 10021
This Center, which has just opened its doors, will help fulfill the spiritual needs of Jews during times of illness. It will reach out to Jews who are ill and to their family members and friends; and will offer prayer, meditation, study, spiritual counseling, and bikur holim -- visiting the sick. It will also provide training and support for rabbis and chaplains, and health care professionals. The Center will probably become involved with modalities such as Therapeutic Touch, massage and other kinds of bodywork as it expands its program for support and training.
Church for Spiritual Healing and Health
6907 Sherman Street, Philadelphia, PA 19119
The primary interests of the Church for Spiritual Healing and Health are teaching, and research, and the practice of the spiritual aspects of bodywork and the co-creative health sciences. To achieve these goals, the Church has three affiliates.
The Theological Seminary offers courses, workshops, seminars, conferences, and other educational programs and activities on the spiritual aspects of health, and spiritual healing -- including spiritual massage healing and co-creative healing. The Federation of Healing Organizations serves as a means of communication and a forum for discussion of the member organizations, each of which retains its autonomy and independence.
The Church for Spiritual Healing and Health defines spiritual massage healing as a form of divinely inspired and divinely guided religious healing. It consists of prayer, love, anointing with oil and movements derived from the laying on of hands. It is the practice of one's religious faith and conscience. It is a mode of worship. The spiritual massage practitioner is a religious healer. Prayer is an integral part of spiritual massage healing. It provides the healer with guidance. Without prayer, there is no spiritual massage healing.
However, there is no one right way to do spiritual massage healing just as there is no one right way to do spiritual healing. Each practitioner does spiritual massage healing her own unique way. Consequently, what she does and how she does it may vary from time to time with the same client, and from one client to another.
Both spiritual healing and spiritual massage healing are done in many different ways because spiritual has different meanings. Etymologically, massage also has different meanings. The term originally referred to stroking, rubbing, tapping, and kneeding for the manual manipulation or movement of soft tissue. The stroking and rubbing evolved from the biblical anointing with oil and the laying on of hands which was done for healing and other purposes.
The term massage is used in spiritual massage healing because (a) the above-mentioned different massage movements (stroking, rubbing, tapping, kneeding) may be involved, (b) many people associate these movements with what they rightly or wrongly call massage, (c) some of these movements may indeed resemble manipulations of massage and other well-known bodywork modalities, and (d) Healer Members the National Federation of Spiritual Healers in Great Britain may incorporate gentle massage as part of their spiritual healing.
The Spiritual Massage Healing Ministry
6907 Sherman Street, Philadelphia, PA 19119
This Ministry is an affiliate of the Church for Spiritual Healing and Health, publishes the Journal of Spiritual Bodywork and the Spiritual Massage Ministry Newsletter. Spiritual massage healing is different from massage therapy and other secular bodywork. Individuals and organizations whose primary interest is spiritual massage healing should therefore have their own professional periodicals.
Spiritual massage healers are accountable to God. The Church does not attempt to motivate anyone to do spiritual healing, including spiritual massage healing. For some, spiritual healing, including spiritual massage healing, is a calling comparable to the calling for ordination -- Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you. -- John 15:16. Some spiritual massage healers believe that just as God has chosen certain people to be ordained (John 15:16), so He has chosen certain people to be spiritual massage healers. Others have themselves chosen to be spiritual massage healers as their way to serve, worship and work with God. Either way, each individual decides for herself whether to do spiritual healing; and, if so, what to do and how to do it; and assumes responsibility for what she does.
The legal separation of church and state prohibits states from regulating spiritual massage healers, as they regulate secular massage therapists. Spiritual massage healers believe they are all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister ( Hebrews 1:14), and are answerable to a power higher than secular state law. They are accountable to God.