While in the practitioner's arms, my body became totally calm. All muscle spasms and uncontrollable movements ceasedRelief For People With Parkinson's Disease
By Cynthia Entzel
In 1995, I was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease (PD), an incurable, progressive, degenerative neurological condition that causes the body to become very rigid. It affects, among other things, mobility and balance. About five years ago I heard about Watsu while at a hot springs resort in Oregon. Watsu was one of the alternative therapies I tried as a way to get relief from the effects of daily muscle spasms and ever increasing stiffness throughout my body. The experience left me feeling relaxed and agile. I wanted more and when I returned home was sad to find that, because it required the use of a warm pool, active practitioners were hard to find. Unless I was at a hot springs resort, a Watsu session wasn't very available to me.
Now, several years later, I find myself at Harbin Hot Springs, the home of The Watsu Center of Shiatsu and Massage. During the week I was there, I had the good fortune to receive a Watsu session almost every day. One of those sessions was from Harold Dull, the creator of Watsu.
My body was ripe for the soothing and relaxing water therapy. The physical strains and stresses of living with PD for ten years have been immense. Most of the time I feel like a prisoner in my body. As the disease progresses, this captivity intensifies. Harold Dull defines Watsu as "freeing the body in water." This is a perfect description, for that is exactly what I felt. While in the practitioner's arms, my body became totally calm. All muscle spasms and uncontrollable movements ceased. The stress lines on my forehead melted away as my face relaxed. My body became fluid and receptive to the calming water and the therapeutic moves and stretches that is Watsu.
As the week went by and I spent more time in the water, something else became clear. In addition to the physical benefits from the Watsu sessions, my brain, which is usually abuzz with thoughts scrambling one over the other, became calm. I experienced the sessions without distraction, without interference from my conscious mind. That took me to a deeper level of relaxation, to a place of total, unencumbered existence. I didn't feel the confines of the disease, physically or mentally. It was beautiful and transforming.
Now I am back home in the upper Midwest, nowhere near a hot springs resort, and I'm going through Watsu withdrawal. I have begun a search, once again. What I find is that it's still not as available as other kinds of bodywork, but it is out there.
Water therapy is a powerful healing tool. This is especially so for people with PD and other diseases, which affect mobility. My hope is that Watsu will become as available as other forms of bodywork very soon, so that all people who want it can have the incredible experience of being floated.