Bodywork looks for cause, not symptom |

Bodywork looks for cause, not symptom

Louise Preston is a certified massage therapist, craniosacral therapist and teacher, and artist who brings a depth of healing to her art and practice. She has been a bodyworker for more than 25 years and offers a variety of massage processes for her clients. In addition to her busy schedule, she teaches Visionary Craniosacral Work at The Milne Institute in Big Sur. And, then, there is her art. As she writes on her Web site: “turn your body and soul into a brush, go deep, touch life, color, movement, see with your whole body, you are the light.” She allows you to experience emotional release from both her bodywork and her art. In this article, I focus on her bodywork.

What circumstances lead you to be interested in bodywork?

I was drawn to the field of natural healing, specifically bodywork, because it had been profoundly healing for me. Bodywork was also a natural fit for me because I have a propensity for a tactile/kinesthetic style of working. I started with massage therapy in 1979. When I began to notice clients coming back week after week with the same patterns of discomfort, I searched for a way to help relieve the underlying causes. This search led me to a style of bodywork called Lomi (now a program for training psychotherapists in body-based work). In the 1980s, Lomi (not to be confused with the Hawaiian massage, Lomi-lomi) was one of the first schools of body-mind therapy. Our training included learning about Reichian breathwork, Gestalt therapy, energy work through martial arts, meditation as well as deep tissue massage and polarity therapy.

You teach craniosacral work as well as practice it; how did you get interested in this type of bodywork?

When I first experienced Craniosacral work n 1995, I avidly pursued learning it. Right away I had a powerful experience of well-being even though I wouldn’t have said I felt bad before. The work is so profound, I think it will be a lifelong study. I did my thesis for Cranial certification on working with children with developmental disabilities. Several of the children seemed to benefit from the work. I recommend that parents have their babies and children checked out by a Cranial practitioner. Correcting a small imbalance in infancy can often prevent problems later. For example, ADD and ADHD have shown improvements in some studies. Craniosacral work is a continuation of the principle of going deeper to relieve the underlying cause. I have found that Craniosacral work can often relieve mysterious maladies, ones that have no specific diagnosis in western medicine – for example, feeling out of sync with oneself or low immunity for no obvious reason.

How do our emotions create stress in our bodies?

We often store a traumatic or stressful experience not just in the subconscious but in the body. Experiences and feelings seem to be stored in order to work with later when we have greater resources. By focusing the client’s attention slowly and deeply into the held or armored areas, often the insight can come which enables that stored energy to be released. This can be the needed shift in a pattern to relieve chronic pain or tension, for example. So many feelings are taboo which exist for practical reasons, such as when our parents were helping us socialize, but also because we were taught that certain emotions are not OK. At that point, there is a war going on inside us because we each have the full range of human feelings even though we may not have learned how to express them effectively. I may feel that I need to wall off a feeling from expression and perhaps even wall it off from my own awareness. This walling-off process can involve some powerful holding in muscles and connective tissue – all subconscious usually. A price is paid for this repression: these holding patterns can then contribute to an injury, depression, or chronic pain to give some examples. Sometimes an emotional release will accompany the work, leading usually to greater vitality and peace.

What do you get from your teachings and your practice?

One thing I love about this work is that it is in complete harmony with my own path in life. I love that the work feels right to me every day I enter my office. I get to practice being present, being aware and integrating my intuition. I especially feel an affinity with the Milne Institute approach to Craniosacral work. What is different about the Milne approach – and the reason it is called Visionary Craniosacral Work – is its emphasis on intuitive development as well as technical knowledge from the beginning. We are trained to see specific issues as well as context with our clients and to balance the work with a self-awareness of our own issues and biases. Since the work is gentle, yet very powerful, it is important to bring maturity and self-awareness to it.

Louise can be reached at her Nevada City office, 530-470-0161. Her art can be found at


Suzie Daggett is the publisher of the INSIGHT Directory of Healing Arts Practitioners; 530-265-9255,

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