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Paresh Rink Bodyworker

by Paresh Rink(more info)

listed in bodywork, originally published in issue 5 - April 1995

Tell us your story. You seem to have learned a great many techniques in your training. All these techniques can be confusing, because there are so many styles, yet they are all dealing with the same material.

Absolutely. Once upon a time, I was hooked on Valium and Mogadon (a sleeping pill), like I was taking 4 Mogadon a night. To make a long story short, I changed GPs and the new GP wouldn't renew my prescription and he suggested I do a yoga class. I sneered, 'Ah yes, wisdom of the East'. He said, 'Just go with an open mind'.

It's very difficult to picture you like that. How long ago was that?
This was a totally unreconstructed Paresh. We are looking at around 1980. Anyway, I went to a Yoga class with as open a mind as I could manage and joined all these ladies in their leotards. I was dreadfully stiff, but achieved a tremendous high in that first class, I suppose I was stretching bits of me which had never been stretched before. I went on with the yoga and found it so helpful that after a few months I flushed all my sleeping pills down the loo. The years went by, I began letting the Yoga go. When I moved to London in 1985 I decided to take up the Yoga again and found a teacher.

One evening this teacher announced that he was giving an introduction to massage. It sounded quite interesting. I really had no idea of what massage was. That weekend was pretty chaotic. But for some reason I stuck with it and practised regularly with friends from the Yoga class. I was really very awkward at it. I found it very difficult. But something was making me persevere, I'm not sure what, because I really was extremely bad at it. But, with small glimpses and ahas, I started to get it, and it was starting to flow. But it took an awful long time.

I then ended up doing an ITEC training. I suffered miseries with the Arnould-Taylor book. How I got through the exam I don't know, because it never crossed my mind that I could look for help beyond the textbook, which as we know is pretty useless. I then took a training in Psychic Massage in Poona. When I got back to England I began doing massage for a very few clients and not feeling very good about it. My repertory of moves seemed pathetically limited, I couldn't answer many of the clients' questions. I felt rather useless and unprofessional.

This was just straight Massage?
This was straight, Swedish massage. OK. Now I have a son who lives in the San Francisco Bay area. I went out to see him in 1988, and while I was there some friends told me about a school in the Bay called the National Holistic Institute (NHI). They introduced me to a friend of theirs who had recently graduated. I was very impressed by this person's confidence and professionalism. So much so that I ended up going for an interview at NHI and was told that I could come any time I wanted. I didn't make it there until 1990. My original plan was to do the six-month training and then come back to England. I'm happy to say that I ended up staying in the USA for longer than that.

It was a six-month training?
It was a 500-hour programme, divided up over five 4-hour mornings per week for six months. It was just like doing an immensely long group. Amazing. NHI is a wonderful school. I doubt if there is anything comparable anywhere, certainly not in England. Now, due to changes in Federal regulations, the program has expanded to 720 hours. This includes an ambitious extern program.

And this is just massage?
Massage, shiatsu, sports massage, professional bodywork strategies, on-site massage, the business side of things, and lots and lots of anatomy. There was a little clinic where the students got to work on real live people not to do with the school. You could just see your class mates maturing during those 3 weeks of clinic, from being wet behind the ears and quite scared into confident people who were going to be fine therapists, a real quantum leap. We were assessed not only on technique, but rapport, presence, concentration, communication skills.

So it was the best, and for me the right thing at the right time. I knew I needed to know more about the body - not to mention professionalising my work - and I was aware that the anatomy I had learned was absolutely hopeless, just book learning to get through the stupid exam. Like 'Name the muscles on the front of the body'. Like give me a break. When I set off for the States my intention was to learn massage thoroughly and to learn the body(!) so that I could then go on with more confidence to do this more spiritual, hands-on etheric healing stuff. It hasn't quite happened like that but, of course, one does work on an energetic level as well, you can't not.

Did you get rolfed by any chance?
I got rolfed when I was doing the NHI training. Ten sessions."

What was your opinion?
Well, my rolfer was a sweet guy and he was a great technician and that was it. He didn't really seem interested in the somato-emotional component that I had thought was part of what deep work on the deep fascia was all about. There was one remarkable moment in the last session when he had me stand and for the first time in my life I felt the energy of gravity through my feet - I actually felt how I am being held onto the earth by this weird force.

Do you have any physical challenges left, as a bodyworker? How do you keep yourself from getting injured, straining yourself?
It is a total challenge to me because I never was very much in my body during most of my life and I still have a problem with that. And I have been through a lot of difficulty with my body, particularly after the rolfing session, my lower back 'went' in a major way and I've been clawing my way back from that ever since. Exercise and exercise. Good osteopathy. Good bodywork. I wish I could tell you that I was consistent, but I haven't been and I have always noticed the difference between not taking care of myself in that way and being consistent - it makes all the difference. But I've always had a problematic relationship with my body which I presume is the deeper reason for my being born to this work.

How long were you in the States?
I ended up staying two years. I stayed on in California for about six months after graduating from NHI. Then I was invited to work with someone in Arizona. I moved there, but this professional relationship didn't jell. Faults on both sides, no doubt. Whatever the case, I signed up for a neuromuscular training in Phoenix. Although it wasn't very well taught, it got me thinking in a different way, on a new level. At the same time I took a semester of Anatomy and Physiology at Scottsdale Community College. Someone on the training enthused to me about this amazing man John Barnes, the originator of the Myofascial Release (MFR) approach and it so happened that soon afterwards he was doing a MFR 1 seminar down in Tucson. I rushed there. As soon as he started I knew that I was in the presence of a real teacher, calm, confident, humane. He radiated a profound practical and energetic knowledge and a deep, deep knowledge of the body and as the seminar progressed I knew that this was my man - he was such a great teacher, a great innovator and a great healer. So I did three other seminars after MFR I: MFR II, Osseous Integration and Myofascial Unwinding. The great thing about his trainings were that they were not just for massage therapists, although there were plenty there, far from it: physical therapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, dentists too, and in Orlando (what a dump), a lovely neurologist, so humble and so eager to learn. So John is drawing on quite a wide constituency as word gets out.

What is a myofascial unwinding?
To be brief - when restricted or traumatised fascia releases, there is sometimes an unwinding. It's as if the tissue has a life of its own - and I suppose it has - and it will actually move, once you have initiated that process. You don't know that it's necessarily going to do it, you just have to stay open to the possibility. A limb, to give you one example, will actually move back to its point of trauma. I experienced this when I was working on a friend of mine in the States. Her arm - that's where I was working - started weaving and waving around and I just followed it, which is what you do, without trying to influence it - at most you may give it the subtlest of nudges if it seems stuck. And it went back in some sort of position like that (arm, bent at elbow, flexed) and she said, 'Oh, that's exactly the position I broke my wrist in'. So the tissue remembers, and releasing those memories can be therapeutic.

And it goes back to its last stage?
Apparently. That's how it seems to work. So to say something about Myofascial Unwinding. The technique to initiate this process are pretty simple, the important thing is that both giver and receiver should be open to the possibilities. Once the process has started the receiver will just go into what is often a whole body experience - there will be movement, you can never tell in advance what, there may be shouts, groans, weeping, there may be words. The therapist is there to be with the person as they go through their stuff, protecting, encouraging, maybe even helping the process along, if that seems appropriate - psoas (bilaterally), TMJ and the solar plexus to help the process are quite good places to be, and simple dialoguing may take place if that seems appropriate. The drama usually plays itself out in around twenty minutes. One of the great things about Myofascial Unwinding as taught by John Barnes is that it is quite unfascistic (you should forgive the pun, but, of course, the words have the same root). It's possible to stop the process in mid-stream, if that's what the receiver wants, and amazingly enough, the process can be started up again, just like an interrupted conversation, and there is a whole set of agreements. For example, the receiver is not to feel bound to answer any question you might feel inclined to put to them, for instance, 'What's happening?'.

Let's be clear that I'm talking about two different but related techniques. There is the MFR that you do with the receiver on the table and you follow any myofascial releases that you may facilitate; they may be very local and undramatic as well as the kind of happening I described earlier. And there is Myofascial Unwinding, which is not done on the table - the receiver usually starts on a chair, but the rest of the room needs to be clear and free of jutting or sharp objects - with the receiver in loose clothing. The unwinding, of course, comes from the general rubic of MFR.

What is happening to the fascia?
It's a mystery. But as I say, it does seem to have a life of its own. The thing is that the ground substance of fascia is colloidal and this means that it can be more or less sol, more or less gel, depending. When you apply, through your hands, mechanical pressure, bioenergy or heat and maybe piezzo-electricity, to what you might call bio-jello that has become a bit tough or a bit restricted, then it may become more supple, more juicy - more sol, more gel. It will often also begin to move around (this may be due to the release of collagen cross-restrictions, but I'm really not sure), and you can feel that through your hands, proprioceptively. You may feel a rotation, or a shearing, or a pull in a certain direction, anything really. Having let it take you to a barrier, you wait for the next movement and follow that. It's a bit like cranio-sacral, in a way it's the same kind of work. When you're doing cranio-sacral to the head you're palpating the cranial plates. What are they attached to? Dura. What's dura? It's connective tissue - fascia. You're really tuning in to the movement of the fascia as well as the resonance of the CSF pump.

To conclude, was there any further training while you were in the USA?
I took two more trainings apart from those I've mentioned. But I have to say that the peak experience was the clinical internship I did at John Barnes' MFR Treatment Centre in Pennsylvania where I got to work alongside John and his therapists 12 hours a day for five days, something I can never forget.

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About Paresh Rink

Massage therapist and bodyworker. Paresh now lives and works in California with his son, a fellow bodyworker.

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