When I first saw a demonstration of Pulsing, with Curtis Turchin back in 1978 at The Open Centre, I cried. Watching that massage, I was so caught up in the rhythms and movements, the contact of that very early, nonverbal space near the womb, that I joined in, ebbed and flowed with the movement in front of me and, deeply touched, allowed my tears to flow.
I was determined to learn this kind of rhythmic rocking bodywork, and a group of us persuaded Curtis to organize a training. So Curtis taught us his form of work, named Pulsing. He had been strongly influenced by Milton Trager, an American living in Hawaii, who had developed his own brand of Hawaiian work and brought it to Esalen in the sixties.
Years later a friend of mine rang to tell me of the visit in London of a native Hawaiian bodyworker - Kahu Abrahams, who was giving a demonstration of Hawaiian Kahuna bodywork in a church hall in Hampstead. I went to experience the roots of Pulsing. And it happened again - as I listened to Kahu, then watched the dancing and moving of the bodies in the massage, I became entranced and 'joined in and flew' with the energy.
I signed up for an individual session with Kahu a few days later. Never in my life in a bodywork session had I been so totally met, so stretched in my awareness, taken to such wide horizons, such intense awareness of myself in this world. Only giving birth to my daughter, and lovemaking once or twice in my life made equal demands on my concentration and my awareness. Maybe dying can be like it too - such awareness, aliveness, abandon, commitment.
So I went to train with Kahu, in Hawaii, on repeated occasions. To train with him was to accept a training along the old shamanic traditions - no explanations, not many words, but total attention to detail, to action, to self and other, as a vehicle for learning, transformation and consciousness. Holistic bodywork truly embodied in the teaching - no division between thinking and doing and feeling was supported.
I was always challenged to walk the talk, to listen to the universe, to be passionately alive to all the experiences and energies and feelings without losing my step, without 'drowning' in any emotion, without passing responsibility over to others for my pain, my joy, my being. In that first month of my 24 hours a day training in Hawaiian bodywork, I was allowed to touch another body for the first time on the 8th day, I think. The time before was for getting us out of old ideas, expectations and calcified patterns of being. Emptying the cup before filling it with new water...
Most of the time I spent learning Hawaiian bodywork over the years was really time to unlearn, to undo, and to make space for the natural movements of energy: to learn to flow with the moment, to welcome the unexpected, to listen to the murmurings from the past, the present, the new beginnings...
What I teach now is a style of the work which encompasses what I learned from Curtis, from Kahu, from my students, and clients, and life. And for me, the essence is to encourage and nurture in each person the playfulness of being, an openness to the here and now and the rhythms of being and becoming.
This article was first printed in the Open Centre
brochure, then reprinted in the London and Southeast Connection in