Usually this blog is all about technical aspects of massage, but I recently helped teach a workshop in Brazil and had such a great time I wanted to share.
Through a connection I made several years ago during massage school, I was invited to partner up to teaching a course in Serra Grande, Uruçuca, Brazil. Cintia and I met at school in Miami and bonded when she patiently helped me deal with a protracted shoulder, and I gave her a very deep Iliopsoaz stretch. We've kept in constant contact, always sharing techniques and bouncing ideas off of each other. Cintia primarily works as an Ayurvedic healer and yoga teacher, and I work with Neuromuscular therapy and teach. We were chatting about ways to share our bodywork outside of the treatment room or studio and she said: "Come to Brazil!" I was a little confused since we were talking about how to reach people in other ways with our work and she was telling me to take a vacation and come visit. She was excited and had a great idea for a workshop we could teach. With her connections, local clients, and my NMT and teaching experience we quickly put together a workshop for partner stretching and massage.
Cintia's friends Cris and Val have a beautiful place called Morada Serena where they host travelers looking for a peaceful rest away from the stresses of modern life, silent retreats, guided group meditations, and healing ceremonies. Meeting either Cris or Val for the first time is such a warming and inviting experience in itself, such distinct personalities that practice the life they help others to enjoy when visiting the property. We taught our class in a large open gazebo on a Saturday in the late afternoon with the groups "ooohhs", "ahhhs", and laughter floating into the evening air. I couldn't have asked for a better environment to teach a course about stretching and massaging friends, children, lovers, and parents.
The morning after the course, Cris and Val invited us back for a silent group day, shared dinner, and then an overnight stay. Val began the day with gentle direction to connect to the forest, animals, wind, sky, ourselves and be aware of the group. After reading a short poem by Thich Nhat Hahn, we entered our silence with the steady tone of a crystal bowl and meditation.
We spent the day walking slowly first down an open dirt road in silence, then into the forest, and spent our lunch at a gorgeous waterfall. No cellphones, no cameras, the only human sounds were breathing, and the gentle crunch of foliage under our feet. I grew up hiking and backpacking and I'm very comfortable with solitude and contemplative silence, but during this day in the woods I was reminded by how little time in our daily lives we spend outside in nature, or in a silent place. Since returning I've added some time first thing in the mornings at the beach for a walk or some breathing.
After returning from our silent day, we slowly ended our silence again with the tone of a crystal bowl. Now was time to share with the group what we observed in ourselves and about the value of responsibly living our lives in natural places. Imagine spending seven hours completely silent with your mind wandering then when you re-engage other people to share your very personal, detailed and nuanced observations about your silent time having to do it in a language that you feel barely capable of responding with "yes/no" responses! To my surprise I was able to, in passably understandable Portuguese, share with the group as well as generally understand what others shared. Cintia was also quite surprised when I spoke up. The second observation I came away with is how creative and capable we can be using new skills after cutting out our usual distractions, quieting our minds, and being out in nature.
Brazilians have the phrase Jeitinho Brasileiro which can be summed up with a literal translation of "The Brazilian way". For North American or European folks the Jeitinho Brasileiro is usually described in terms of impact on business relationships, but can also describe social and personal rhythms. In small part it includes the notion of finding a way around obstacles or challenges with a different time orientation than we typically have in North America or most of Europe. Quite often I recommend to my clients to make the time to slow things down and really connect with themselves and the things they enjoy rather than continuing to over schedule their lives as a series of tasks to accomplish or transactions to complete. Traveling to Brazil to teach and enjoy vacation has reminded me to practice what I preach take things a little easier on a daily basis and honestly I've been happier since slowing down a bit. What perspectives have you gained from travel, or as advise from friends or therapists?
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