Experience After a Disastrous Accident Led Ghanay Gloude to Massage, In Spite of Her Mom Saying No!

Ghanay GloudeI have grown into a fascination with learning to care for the soul. To do so, I believe that one must expose the self to a variety of circumstances which encompass all aspects of human behavior.

In this chapter of my own life, I find there are no answers to the problems and promise of the human condition, but to approach the complex experience of being with love, compassion and softness. I read that kittens knead while they are suckling to stimulate lactation in the mammary glands.

They may continue to knead into adulthood as a way to kindle good feelings, similarly to the way humans stretch. I have entitled this essay as such because the origin of kneading is instinctual, comforting and feels rewarding. I knead to feel human, not as one who seeks to cure or even heal, but as one who kneads to care for the pain present in the soul’s body.

I hope that I might intentionally transmit the energetic signature of healing to others who consider massage and touch to be great modalities that facilitate substantive transformation and deep profundity.

I am not so different from many others when I say that I have nearly been destroyed by my longing to find the “thing” missing from me. There was always something keeping me awake at night that called to me loud enough to make its presence known, but was too soft to comprehend fully.

I have been searching since I was a small child, often plagued by anxiety stemming from awareness of the world’s pain and suffering. I know that I am unique, just like everyone else, and that for us all, life is a matter of cultivating our gifts and then giving them away. If I must assign a purpose to life, it is to be held responsible for our experiencing the process of becoming. In striving to understand any bit of existence, I must genuinely and consciously place myself in the fields to which I am called. I know that healing is in my nature.

I first thought to pursue massage therapy as a career while I was in high school. My mother advised me not to, as there was “no money” in that dream. I had done no soul-searching at that point, but could sense that I was totally disconnected from some stream of higher consciousness. I had no concept of being my own person, of articulating my values or knowing where to look. Blindly, I enrolled in a private four-year university in my home-town and conferred a Bachelor’s degree in foreign language; my minor was sociology.

Having always been intrigued by language, the supreme moving force of humanity, I sought to expand and extend myself by learning Spanish. Doing so gave me an opportunity to express thoughts and emotions with a richness I had not been perceptive of previously. Our capacity for articulation in the forms of poetry, song, or just plain noise—we try our damnedest to communicate our knowing, our questions, our ecstasy and our suffering.

I was shy to speak, but knowledge of this textured language made me feel empowered. However, the revelatory theories regarding the progress, organization and functioning of human society had an adverse effect. I suspected that there were roots on the tree of man’s suffering, but was ignorant of how penetratingly corrosive are the constructed societal pressures upon the fruitful potential of each individual.

I felt hopelessly enslaved by the confining ideologies and institutions. I believed I had lost my power before I could realize I ever had any at all. There was no obvious solution or escape from the unjust treatment of human beings, animals and the Earth. I stopped searching for hope and grew depressed, cynical and reclusive.

A few months in this hellish void led me to what was most fertile within my own spirit. I had fallen closer than I had ever been to a space composed by the intrinsic raw materials of soul. What I perceived to be a realm of essences moved me to a peaceful paradise of vibrancy and phenomenal beauty. Light was born of darkness in me when I was transformed by soulful and heartfelt love.

I discovered this constant and permeating energy one night while I was lying in bed, overcome by catharsis and weeping at the realization that life is both against and for every soul ever born into this world. I was spirited away by universaIity and intuited then that my power was not gone, nor had it ever been- perhaps misplaced, but never gone. I began to trust that I am pure in depth and reflect a spirit molecule which knows me with the same intensity that I could never know it. Of course, this trust in source energy behooved me to explore the dimensionality of the mind-body-soul connection.

Fearlessly, I resolved to see more beauty in the world. My first trip alone, I ventured to Vieques, Puerto Rico for three weeks where I offered my labor in exchange for a tent and meals. My hosts, Maureen and Michael, were from New York and resigned to live a quiet life on a homestead, enlisting the help of WWOOFers during the dry season. I read Osho and Thich Naht Hahn, drank rooibos tea with honey and almond milk each morning.

I rose with the sun and never tired of the fragrant sweetness of the ylang ylang tree in full bloom near my tent. I pick-axed trees that stemmed from weeds; my fingers swelled from the tropical heat. I only left that heavenly place because it never occurred to me that I could stay. I returned home knowing that the time had come for me to find employment that was in alignment with the healthful lifestyle I had chosen.

Two weeks later, the restaurant where I worked as a server closed unexpectedly. For nearly two months afterward, I spent time dancing with life at my own pace, learning to live gracefully, compassionately and whole-heartedly.

When the time was befitting, I was drawn to apply at a small, family-owned organic grocery store. I met people with far-reaching vision, joyful presence and enthusiasm for well-being. My peers stoked my passion for aliveness and supported my growth as a human being. The patrons were from all walks of life; many had been undone by dis-ease and were fighting to restore their health.

In listening to their stories, I felt my heart opening wider as I shared their pain and their hope for recovery. After a year and a half, I had felt the urge to travel again. I journeyed to Thailand and worked as an English teacher for six months.

On a humid and sunny Friday morning, en route to school, I rode past jasmines blossoming on a side street. I inhaled deeply and stole a glimpse of the rising sun before refocusing my vision. Just off the highway and into town, I drove around a curve, onto a one-way and t-boned a truck. As I catapulted through the air, I became keenly aware that my life was changing drastically in that moment.

I slid several feet across gravelly pavement and was overwhelmed by trauma and fright. I laid there, horrified, and raised my head to look at my hands, shredded and bloody with rocks embedded into my burning flesh. The driver of the vehicle darted over to me, lifted my helpless body from the lane and placed me on the curb. I was sobbing inconsolably, and a gentle woman came to me with tissues and sat beside me, gesturing that I use them for the deep gashes on my feet, knees, fore-arms and hands.

My clothes were tattered, my bike obliterated and I had no functioning of my right leg. An ambulance and police officer arrived in a matter of seconds, it seemed. The officer explained that my bike would be taken to the police station and that I would be delivered to the hospital. My shock was so great that I initially refused all of this and insisted that I go to school to see my kids! This accident was absurd and in no way part of my lesson plan for the day! When I realized I certainly needed medical attention, I consented and was whisked away on a stretcher. As the shock and adrenaline faded, the pain deepened.

Upon arrival, a nurse was assigned to clean and bandage my wounds. While laying on the gurney, I tried to move my leg and grew terrified that my efforts were futile. I was taken for X-Rays and there was no indication that anything was broken, so the doctor gave me pain killers, ibuprofen and a letter excusing me from work for a week. My Thai landlords, Aea and Pud, were with me through the entire experience, so kind as to take me to follow-up doctor appointments and prepare meals for me.

Aea even let me borrow her mother’s walker so that I could at least get around my room on my own. I rested for a week and the swelling decreased significantly. I realized then that the pain I felt was not from my leg, but in my lumbar and sacral spine, in the sacroiliac joint and psoas muscle.

I began researching what I could do to heal, which was useful, but ultimately, I had to “work it out” between my mind and body. With tender loving care, I stretched, practiced self-massage and yoga. Most effectually, I let my body move in ways it wanted so that I could approach the centers of intense aching through postures that allowed the pain to be expressed, held and soothed.

Devotion to healing my injuries pushed me into sessions of flow states, which brought me closer to the truth of my purpose. Using what I had learned to help myself, I showed to my friends in Thailand who had been in accidents and were open to using my technique. Of course, my technique revealed to them that their bodies were speaking and imploring them to care for the pain that was present.

Through studying massage therapy, I hope to gain and apply the knowledge that will allow me to see how healing can take place with more clarity. I seek to understand the pain in the human body, as it is prevalent in all human beings at some point. Kneading to feel human is essential to soothing the soul.

It appeals to our sense of touch and moves us higher into the dimensions of feeling and emotion. With my soul, mind and body, I made use of the pain that came my way. There are still times when I gaze at my hands and marvel at all they are capable of. I intend to use them carefully, to plant seeds of healing and break up tension that exists in the world, one bodily spirit at a time.

I believe that each human being is a fiber in the greater fabric composing the web of life. When we do that which renders us into flow states, we are fully immersed and engaged in that process. In the zone, we become men and women of no ego and sense the raw materials of soul experiencing complete absorption in the creative now.

The blessing of my scooter accident demanded that I raise the quality of my thoughts to overcome the pain and suffering in my physical body. Difficult times in life ask us what we are made of, and as human beings, we are proof that mind takes precedence over matter. We are co-creators of our reality and destiny when we choose to be aware of our response to life’s inherent wholeness.

It is painful to believe that we are victims of circumstance and that our fate is predetermined and that life has no meaning. We internalize this as truth when we take more than give, consume more than we generate, and hate more than we love. In caring for the soul, we take responsibility for our mental and physical health and try to do more of what breathes life energy into our spirit.

There is no end to striving and aspiring to virtuosity. There is no arrival at perfection. There is only love and equanimous reverence for the mysterious process. All of time will continue to pass and space will eternally be transformed. Let us be grateful now for the circumstances that bring us through the joys and sorrows of life.

Posted in Aspiring Massage Students

How to Teach in a Massage Therapy School in Vermont

Vermont is one of the few states that has no regulation what so ever for massage therapists and body workers.  Most therapists choose to abide by the regulations and licensing and certification requirements for the nearby state of New Hampshire, which requires 750 hours of education or Maine, which requires 500 hours of education.  Educational programs for massage therapists tend to mirror the requirements in those two states, as many Vermont therapists choose to practice in more than one state.

Given that there are no requirements to practice massage, massage education in Vermont is similarly, without regulation.  Schools vary widely in curriculum, as well as cost, with the tuition of some programs being as low as $5000 for 500 hours of instruction, and other being as high as $16,000.

There are a number of small scale schools taught as apprenticeship programs by a single instructor as a part of their independent massage practice, and there are other programs taught in conjunction with spa therapy and cosmetology coursework.

Regardless of the venue, to teach massage in Vermont, an instructor will need to have credible experience and education to convince students of the value they offer.

Educational Requirements for Massage Teachers

There are no formal educational requirements to become a massage instructor in the state of Vermont.  Most therapists choose to attend a program that requires at least 500 hours of education, as well as pursue certification through the MBLEX national massage certification exam.

Students will expect that instructors have at least this level of training, and ideally, some form of specialized education in a particular massage specialty to qualify them to teach beyond the basics.

Recommended Experience

There is no specific experience requirement for massage therapy teachers in Vermont.  Most states suggest at least 2 years professional experience in the field before becoming a teacher, and to be competitive in the application process, at least 2 years should be expected.

Continuing Education Requirements for Teachers

There are no specific continuing education requirements for massage teachers in Vermont.  The nearby state of New Hampshire requires at least 16 hours every two years, and this should be considered a recommended minimum for a massage teacher to stay current in the field.

Insurance requirements

Though not required by the state, most practicing therapists maintain professional liability insurance through a massage professional organization, such as AMTA (American Massage Therapy Association) or ABMP (Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals).  AMTA’s professional membership explicitly includes insurance for massage professionals working as classroom teachers.


There are no explicit fees for teaching massage therapy, but professional liability insurance is strongly recommended.  Massage professional liability insurance ranges from $199 to $235 dollars annually, and is strongly recommended, though not required.

Relevant Links

Massage Schools in the State of Vermont

Posted in Massage Instructor Requirements

Seth Borer Enjoys His Career As a Massage Practitioner

Seth-BorerMy name is Seth Borer. I’m 25 years old and live in Lincoln, Nebraska where I have lived all my life. I have two brothers and one sister.

My Dad is a firefighter and my Mom stayed at home while my siblings and I were growing up but now runs her owning cleaning business.

I graduated from Northeast High School where I participated in Soccer and Swimming and Diving. I was the captain of our Soccer team my senior year.

I was part of the 400 meter freestyle relay team which earned a spot at the State High School swim meet. I enjoy team sports and the camaraderie of competing with a tight knit group of people.

I tried a number of jobs after high school not really knowing what I wanted to do. I delivered freaky fast sandwiches for Jimmy Johns. Currently, I work for Midwest Tent and Event. We put up tents and pipe and drape for a wide variety of events. Sometimes the work is hard, particularly when it is hot and windy outside. We’ve put up tents for everything from agricultural activities to academia; everything from concerts and receptions to sporting events.

I thought I was successful when I was delivering sandwiches for Jimmy Johns. I liked what I was doing, making great money and thought I was making people happy. I discovered I wore my vehicle out and couldn’t please some people no matter what I did, even when I offered them a free sandwich.

Jimmy Johns was a great place to work but not a career path that would have been satisfying for me.  I don’t know that I’d call it a career failure but it was a good life lesson on what I didn’t want to do with the rest of my life. I worked a couple other jobs in security and as a convenience store clerk. The hours were bad and I didn’t feel like I was living up to my full potential.

In the different jobs I’ve worked I realized that, through it all, it’s my attitude that is important and not to let other people influence how I feel about what I’m doing. I’ve learned that there are some people who are never happy, no matter what, and I can’t let that affect me.

I decided to become a massage practitioner because I enjoy getting massages, it’s relaxing, I can help others and it’s a career that I can continue to do the rest of my life. I think a good massage practitioner is a person who listens and observes well. More can be ‘heard’ by observing body language then with the ears but both are necessary. A good massage practitioner develops a massage plan based upon the request of the person receiving the massage and, while implementing the plan, adjusts as the person responds to the massage.

In the end, it is important to provide what the person asked for and expected to receive. A good massage practitioner converses enough to get to know the person but not so much that it interrupts the relaxing environment of the massage room. The goal of the massage practitioner is to first and foremost relax the client, help relieve stress and if necessary work to relieve any pain.

Success is doing what you like to do, meeting the obligations you have agreed to meet and helping other people along the way. I don’t think being successful is that hard, mostly it starts with attitude. I’m most happy when I feel good about what I’m doing and knowing that I’m helping others.

I see a lot of people who seem to be successful but are not happy. Success and happiness do not have to go hand in hand. People can be happy when they’re successful and when they’re not successful. Happiness is determined more by perspective and attitude than outward activity and accomplishments. I don’t think success should be the focus, don’t get me wrong, I think people should set goals and strive to meet them.

I’ve heard other people say you should enjoy the journey and I think they’re right but if the journey to success is miserable, the end might not be success at all but more misery. Believe me I know about tough times and I know about sacrifice but even in those times there is something to be happy about if you know where to direct your focus.

I’m looking forward to this new career adventure, getting to meet new people and hopefully make their day a little better. I’m looking forward to helping people feel better about themselves and in some small way help move them closer to being happy. If I can do this then I think I will have accomplished a lot!

Posted in Aspiring Massage Students

How to Teach Massage in Washington

The state of Washington Requires licensure for massage therapists, and the Washington State Department of Health regulates licensing and massage schools.  The state of Washington is unique in how it regulates massage school instructors, and though it requires the individual school to submit the qualifications of its teachers and submit a plan to ensure that they are appropriately trained, it does not set explicit requirements for massage school instructors within the state.

Individual schools must submit their plans/policies for faculty, including:

  • A policy on the minimum competency standards for instructors
  • A statement or policy on faculty members participation in curriculum development and evaluation
  • A professional resume for each instructor or trainer
  • A listing of all courses each instructor plans to teachers
  • A non-discrimination policy statement

Educational Requirements for Massage Teachers

Educational requirements are unique to each school as per their state approved plan, but the state of Washington generally requires 500 hours of classroom instruction to qualify for a massage license, and it is reasonable to expect that most schools would require that minimum of their massage school instructors.  Within that 500 hours, the following breakdown is required:

  • 130 hours of anatomy and physiology, including 40 hours of kinesiology
  • 50 hours of pathology, including indications and contraindications
  • 265 hours of massage theory and practice, including no more than 50 hours of student clinic
  • 55 hours of clinical or business practices
  • 4 hours of training in HIV/AIDS as it relates to massage
  • CPR and First Aid Certification

Recommended Experience

Each school sets its own experience requirements for its massage therapy instructors, but expect a minimum of 2 years professional experience to be required.

Continuing Education Requirements for Teachers

Each school will set its own continuing education requirements, but they will likely comply with the state massage license continuing education requirements which are 24 hours every 2 years, including a minimum of 8 hours in skills training, and 4 hours in professional ethics, and at least 2 hours in professional roles and boundaries

Insurance requirements

Though not required by the state, most practicing therapists maintain professional liability insurance through a massage professional organization, such as AMTA (American Massage Therapy Association) or ABMP (Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals).  AMTA’s professional membership explicitly includes insurance for massage professionals working as classroom teachers.


There are no explicit fees for teaching massage therapy, but professional liability insurance is strongly recommended.  Massage professional liability insurance ranges from $199 to $235 dollars annually, and is strongly recommended, though not required.  A Washington State massage therapy license may also be required, and the initial license will cost $115 for the written and practical examination, plus $106 for the license.  Renewals are $81.

Relevant Links

Washington State Massage School Permit Application

Washington State Massage Licence Requirements

Washington State Massage Licence Education Requirements

Washington State Massage Licence Fees






Posted in Massage Instructor Requirements

Motivated Pre Med Student Laurie Pinkerton was Inspired to Become a Massage Therapist

LaurieI would say the beginning of my journey with medicine and healing started my freshman year of high school when both my corneas became severely scratched.

I remember the unbearable pain and burning in my eyes as the doctor entered the room, examined me, diagnosed the condition, and started a course of treatment.

Her confidence and control over the situation gave me security during a time of fear and helplessness. This was the moment I first considered pursuing a career in the medical field.

I thought I might want to become a doctor, to have both the knowledge and ability to make calm those who are afraid during a time of need. Thus, when I started college, I aligned myself with the pre-med path, hoping one day to become a surgeon.

Throughout college, my love of biology, medicine, and the body increased substantially. Not only was I learning about the body through my classes, but I was seeing my body change as well with intense workouts at a Crossfit gym and a change in diet.  With these workouts came whole body stiffness, followed by an interest and physical need for mobility and yoga.

For a time, working out was my one and only stress relief until one day the stress of school due to pre-med expectations was too much for me. It was at that time that my friend invited me to an intro meeting for a mindfulness based stress reduction class.

I readily signed up and started allowing my mind to be open to something I would never have believed would change me so much . . . the understanding of presence, and the need for its awareness in my life.

After graduating from college, I moved to Colorado to ski and work as a medical assistant. During this year after college, I realized I was still burnt out from school and everything associated with it, and that I was not yet ready to pursue a career as a doctor.

Later that summer, for the first time since committing myself and my intentions to medical school, I had the thought that perhaps I never would be. Also, as a medical assistant, I felt that the biggest involvement in my patients healthcare was paperwork, which to me was not healing, and thus, not fulfilling.

After two amazing ski seasons I was finally ready to move on with my life and pursue things I had wanted to learn about outside of medicine. I moved to Driggs, ID, where I pursued farming at a small start-up organic farm, trading time and work for housing under the shadow of the Tetons.

The summer went well and although I was pursuing an interest of mine, I noticed that I was feeling empty and without purpose.  I came to the conclusion that I was dissatisfied because I was not working in any way with people or medicine, neither helping nor healing.

Upon moving to Idaho and meeting the people who have helped me put together some pieces of a puzzle I had not yet known to exist, I came to see that my interests in mobility, mindfulness, and a more holistic route to medicine are more than individual interests, and that they could be brought together through massage therapy.

I am drawn to medicine, healing and the body because they mystify me. My openness to this change in self, coupled with an interest in exploring physiology, mobility, and presence through mindfulness, have led me to this next step in my life.  I am finally ready to pursue healing and relief of pain, not with a pill or surgery, but through touch, movement, and meditation. Massage therapy will allow me to do just that, whether it be moving tissue for mobility or post injury from sports, medically, or in a soothing manner for spa, cancer patients, and wounded warriors.

Although I am still interested in western medicine, I am not ready to embark on it quite yet, and I feel it would be a disservice to myself to disregard these strong pulls towards more holistic and eastern ways of healing.  I have confidence that western and eastern medicine can only become stronger when used together, and I intend to have the knowledge and ability to use them in just that way.

So, what exactly is “success?” Well, just like the term “smart,” I think success can often times be misleading, especially when one wants the success of what others have deemed its worth. One definition of success is “the attainment of popularity or profit.”  I am not naïve to the reality that money is important in the world in which we live, in addition to security and planning for the future.

Popularity, inherently, may be necessary for that profit to be acquired. That being said, at what point is the sacrifice of energy and life worth the profit and security you are expecting, or at least hoping to attain?  In other words, at what point are society’s expectations of security and profit, and inherently success by those terms, not worth its value?

Throughout college as a pre-med student, I believe I was going down the path of societal success. Because a high GPA was needed to be accepted into college, and seemingly nothing less than A’s were even looked at for medical school, I became the “perfect” student.  I felt smart, proud, accomplished, and wanted the prestige of one day being top dog as an ornamented surgeon. That idea excited me and I wanted nothing less.

However, I can’t lie.  Aside from all those feelings, I was tired, so tired and burnt out.  I also felt miserable when I thought about the rest of the world and what was out there that I might be missing.

It was the mindfulness class that started allowing me to listen to myself in a way I felt I was not open to before.  After doing nothing but studying for the MCAT for the second summer in a row and applying to medical schools, I realized I had had enough and I didn’t want any more.

I realized I was at a point of burnout I had never felt before, and I wasn’t even in medical school yet!  I asked myself what I was doing. Was this burnout and self-doubt I was carrying within me worth what I was working for? I realized I needed to clear my brain, my thoughts, and my life if I truly was going to be happy with any decision I was going to make from here on out.

Two years have now gone by since allowing myself to embark on this soul-searching journey, accompanied by good people and good times, sad times, lonely times, and many realizations. If I could equate thinking I was succeeding when in fact I may have been failing, it would have been the success of pursuing a career as a doctor.

I love biology, I really do, and I feel with every cell in my body a deep seated need to help others, but I believe that the failure in my previous pursuit would have been the failure to myself of not listening to my feelings and insecurities about this future path I was going down; the failure of realizing that all of the sacrifice I would be making may not be worth the prestige and money, and that the picture I had painted for myself of being a doctor may not be the reality that would follow. Through all of this, I have come to believe that societal success does not always bring happiness.

To me, the definition of success is peace and contentment, or at least the pursuit of these things. We need to focus on this kind of success because I trust it will bring true happiness.  In the end, I have come to realize that I had not in fact failed myself, but succeeded.

In my opinion, a successful massage therapist is someone who is empathetic, compassionate, open-minded, a good listener, and has a zeal for learning while also being someone who is confident, self-driven, self-promoting, organized, and professional. Massage therapy will allow me to help relieve others of the stress and tension that we as humans carry with us day to day. After working in the medical field, both in clinics and on ambulances, I know how lucky I am to be living without chronic pain every day of my life.

However, I empathize with this pain so much, both mental and physical, that I feel in my soul the need to bring healing, relief, and relaxation to those afflicted.  I believe I will find both personal and career fulfillment in massage therapy.

I am Laurie Pinkerton, 24 years old, went to school at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA. I moved to the mountains in Summit County, CO to ski after graduating, and after a year and a half in CO I moved to Idaho so I could farm in the summer and ski the Tetons this winter. I am so excited to dive back into school and medicine in a different light, now going back to become a certified massage therapist.

This is very much so for me and the path of knowledge I want to learn more about, but also to have the ability to give mobility and presence to people through touch. I cannot wait to embark on this next chapter of my life, and hope you enjoy my essay as much as I enjoyed writing it. I apologize it if it a little lengthier than you would like, but It is a reflection of this journey both physically and mentally, and was so important for me to finally put down in words.  

I do have a Facebook, Laurie Pinkerton, and am definitely wanting to get the word out there about MTSI and how helpful you have been on this scholarship hunt. I had spent so much time getting no where with scholarships because most of them are for accredited 4-year universities, not trade schools or certificate programs.

Posted in Aspiring Massage Students

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