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Massage Today
June 16, 2004

TA'ing: A Therapy of Its Own

By Donna Snow-Spears, LMT, NMT, CST

"All right, partner up!" The familiar words ring out from the Upledger instructor.

The first hours of the CranioSacral Therapy (CST) lecture are over and the hands-on practice begins.

Dimming light prepares the room for the 50 practitioners as they begin digitally "listening" for the nearly imperceptible CranioSacral rhythm in their prone partners.

Minutes slide by. A raised hand catches my attention. I ghost over to the face with the furrowed brow that whispers in exasperation, "I can't feel it!"

Ripples of anticipation of helping make someone's learning process easier made my soul dance! I love being here in this incredulous learning environment, and I am helping as I had once received help from priceless, patient and precise teacher assistants, or TAs. Here is a wonderful learning environment for we are all students!

"Imagine that your hands are feathers and weigh no more than a nickel, like this." I lightly place my hands on theirs and follow the rhythm for several cycles. "Very soon you will begin to trust your hands. Feel it?"

"Uh-huh!" An expression of concentration has replaced the furrowed brow.

TAs come from diverse health care backgrounds and arrive from all over the globe. Our desire to perfect the art and skill of CST has led us to help in ways that are positive and reassuring.

A strong base in CST is important, and "TA'ing" is a great way to review classes. Each time I repeat a workshop, I hear information that I missed before and find that I am entering as many notes in my study-guide as I did the previous time. I have a better chance to become savvy in techniques that undergo metamorphoses. In addition, I get to experience various instructors. Even though the information is consistent, each personality offers a different flavor. What better chance is there to catch up on new trends and add polish to the old, reliable ones than assisting in this way?

Old friends, new friends! TA'ing proffers a bountiful way to form invaluable connections that not only help increase my clientele base, but my friend base as well!

I had been shy about traveling; however, I have grown and the fledgling leaves the nest on occasion. There was hardly a better chance to incorporate traveling into my business than becoming a TA. The Upledger Institute is global, so the possibilities are abundant! And I can call the Upledger Institute to see if my favorite spot on the map has a workshop soon. Hmmm...where to? France? Italy? Scotland? Germany? Australia? Hawaii? How about a place in the U.S. I've always wanted to go? Now, I go with a purpose! (Sedona, here I come!)

Most importantly, is the deepening of connection to what I think is my life's path as I work with people in the realm of CST. I sense that teaching might be a part of it. Assisting may bring me a little closer to my life's work but, in the meanwhile, I'm enjoying being a massage therapist.

"I don't feel the rhythm. Can you check me out?" Another student frets.

"Gladly!" I say, as I touch the patient. "Your hands were right! Their rhythm has stopped! Your gentle touch has already allowed your partner to move into still-point (a gentle stop in the CST rhythm).

"Okay!" The instructor's voice rings. "How many need a break?

Hands fly into the air.

"None of us represent a perfect model to work on," the instructor continues. "Because of this, you sense restrictions, injuries, traumas and such in your first few hours as CST practitioners. What's more, even with the gentle 5-gram touch used to conduct a CST evaluation there will already be favorable changes in your bodies.

"How many feel their body has changed?" (Lots of hands!) "Good! Be back in ten minutes!"

I want to be just like the quiet and supportive TAs that took care of me. Intuitively sensing my need, they would always be nearby. Angels!

Review and improve skills! Glean the latest in applications! Reconnect with old friends! Make new friends! Travel! Business expansion! Opportunities of all descript! Could I ask for more? Well, yes! An additional perk -- perhaps, I'll meet Dr. Upledger in person!

There are many rewards for me in TA'ing, but the best part comes at the end of class as I and the other TAs receive gratifying hugs from students (and future friends) for our assistance. It just doesn't get any better.

Oops! Class is starting! Got to go! See you soon?

Donna Snow-Spears is a massage therapist in Ormond Beach, Fla. She specializes in neuromuscular therapy and has been studying CranioSacral Therapy at the Upledger Institute for the past four years. In her spare time, she volunteers as a teaching assistant at the Upledger Institute.


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