CATA launched its 14-month long North American Healing Arts program on September 10th, complete with rhythmic drumming. The class was filled with massage therapists from around the country eager to learn an indigenous form of massage, Cherokee Bodywork. Later in the series will be classes on Osteopathy with Joseph Schmidlin, Reiki with Nita Renfrew and Barbara Mainguy, and Sound Healing with John Beaulieu.
Lewis Mehl-Madrona and Barbara Mainguy introduced the students to the power of storytelling as a therapeutic tool. Story is used both as an assessment tool and a treatment technique for affecting change in the body-mind-spirit model of health and healing. With their background in allopathic medicine in psychotherapy, psychiatry, geriatrics and family medicine, they integrated western medical concepts into a Cherokee Bodywork narrative.
Not unlike Eastern medical approaches to health and healing found in Shiatsu and acupuncture, Cherokee Bodywork takes a comprehensive approach to healing by looking at the whole being and the story that is revealed as a result. A poetic narrative is elicited that introduces a pathway for balance and healing.
In the course of the introductory class, using a western psychotherapeutic model of human behavior coupled with a Cherokee storytelling technique, Mainguy explains, “Humans like to feel safe. Stories help us to feel safe. When there is a piece missing in our story we feel anxious. Managing our anxiety helps to fill the missing gap. At times a negative story fills the gap, because humans tend to look for danger more than for happiness. If we recognize the gaps are negative, we might first sit with the gap and then try to change the narrative, then look, instead, for a positive outcome. Working with story is a way to help change the narrative.”