The Interesting World Of
Hamid Shibata Bennett, LMT

Hamid Shibata Bennett is a licensed massage therapist who owns a studio in Portland Oregon. He has been kind enough to agree to share his knowledge and expertise with us about the world of massage and holistic health care. Among many other interests he dabbles in Buddhism and is a student of the mind-body connection.

Hamid, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule and agreeing to share some of your insights with us. I found your website Transcending Touch while researching massage therapy and I was very impressed with your approach to massage therapy. Please tell us a little bit about yourself, your massage studio and the other projects that you're involved in.

David... thanks, man.... I appreciate this time to share...

I graduated from East West College of the Healing Arts in 2001 and have been a practicing licensed massage therapist in Oregon since 2002. In 2008, I received certification in Advanced Myofascial Techniques. I engage the interconnected restrictions within the body by playing with the proprioception of myoskelatal-fascial structure.

I'm a student, continuously... in every direction that sparks my focus, both within and without. I seek to observe my pain and suffering, my joy and love... to seek an understanding of my own unique experience, so that I might better guide others towards their own self-care. Serious illness, injury and loss have been some my greatest times of personal growth.... there's always a blessing, something to be learned, found in every experience.

1. Your website and your practice seems to have a transcendental, introspective almost mystical quality. Do you combine any guided meditation or other types of mental exercises with your massage and bodywork?

Bodywork uncovers a story. Physical pain is so often interwoven within the restrictions of the emotional-body, the mind-body and the spiritual body. We entwine memory into our body in response to trauma.

I combine listening-touch with guided questions, hinting towards self-awareness. I witness. I reflect. A more complete view of the body's story unfolds.

It's physiologically rather difficult to be stressed when the breathing is deep and slow. It's a rhythm that lends itself to the activation of the restorative parasympathetic nervous system. As opposed to the short, sharp pattern of fight-or-flight breathing. Breathwork is guided into both painful and under-stimulated areas of the body.

I don't know how mystical it all is. The work provides abundant, often very specific, sensory input to the brain, illustrating the interconnections and restricted myofascia in the body. Once aware of these physical sensations, and possible emotional parallels, one has a choice... to hold on or let go. The brain controls every muscle fiber in the body, so I can't force someone's muscle to let go. The work evokes the persuasion towards positive change through technique, presence and intention.

2. Reading your website and biography you present a very interesting combination of Byzantine spirituality with Eastern religion, meditation and the mind-body connection that contrasts with your new millennium geek side that is an accomplished digital photographer, cinematographer, and Mac computer aficionado. Do you ever have conflicts between your techie and your introspective natures?

My nature is the observational of the inner world. It's how I explore. What's closest to me, I would know best. But, I also lean towards the creative.

Photography, cinematography, music... these are all ways to express the inner world. I learn more about myself through these explorations with my happy geek side. Sharing these other sides of myself might inspire another to explore their own rich inner depths.

3. Many of our readers have never had a massage, and unlike you, most masseurs don't have websites that tell about themselves or what they do. Can you give us any guidance about what kind of a massage we should look for, for what kind of a problem?

For example:
What kind of massage would be good for back pain?
Or after a back injury?
Or postural problems from work?
Or to relieve stress?
No matter the dysfunction... and, if there's myoskeletal pain, the myoskeletal structure probably isn't functioning optimally... find a massage therapist that understands that where it hurts, isn't likely to be the root cause of the problem. Structurally-minded bodywork, such as Myofascial Release is beneficial for chronic back pain, postural disharmony, restoring gate fuction and increasing pain-free range of motion for both recent or long-standing injury. The musculature tissue create, through continuous contraction, a chronic splint, in an attempt to keep the skeletal structure in balance. It takes a lot of energy to subconcisouly activate our muscles for weeks, months.. even years. Release these adhesed areas and stress is naturally relieved.

4. Do you ever get a massage? What is your favorite type of massage? Do you have a favorite masseur/masseuse?

I dig massage! I'm a bit of a bodywork addict! I get 2-4 massages a month and regularly trade with a number of gifted practioners and dear friends. I've seen the most profound changes in my own body with Myofascial Release and Thai massage. My favorite massage therapist is my sweetie, Sarah Carl, LMT. She does Thai massage and has amazing intuition. There are few I trust more. She's going to think I'm a true dork for saying this. She'd be right... Ha!

5. Your craniosacral work sounds very intriguing. You describe it as a third rhythm of the body, separate from the breath and heartbeat. Can you describe it for us, and give us a little insight into what it involves?

The craniosacral rhythm is the ebb and flow of our portable ocean. The sacrum acts as a pump, bathing the spinal cord and brain in cerebral spinal fluid... in essence, salt water. This subtle rhythm, this ebb and flow, can be palpated and addressed through this very gentle modality.

We experience muskoskeletal pain when our skeletal structure is out of balance and the muscles and fascia begin to bind the body for additional support and stability. These imbalances occur on every level, from superficial to deep. Craniosacral work attempts to release the subtle bindings of the craniosacral rhythm.

6. You started your website The Community Health Project, to share experiences and opinions about health and health care, and to educate people about their health and the healthcare system. What kinds of things are you presently involved in to further these goals? And, what would you like The Community Health Project to be involved in in five years?

The Community Health Project recently interviewed a naturopath and have partnered with the Archimedes Movement in a group discussion on what's needed in healthcare reform. We'll also be working on artistic works to showcase that good health permeates all aspects of life. We're currently looking to begin a non-profit with the intention of creating a neighborhood healing center in the next few years. We'd also like to be travelling the world, talking to people and educating them about their health care.

7. What kind of health benefits does a regular massage provide? How do you see massage fitting into a person's healthy holistic lifestyle?

Massage therapy is a natural form of healthcare with observable benefits. It decreases stress, reduces pain and increases mobility. It's an education; becoming aware of the body in new ways, through the interaction of touch.

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Well Hamid, your knowledge and caring nature are certainly apparent, both in your words, and your actions.

We would like to thank Hamid for taking the time to share his expertise and insight with us. You can learn more about Hamid, and his very interesting approach to life, by following his blog and checking out his web sites.

If you are in the Portland area, or are planning a trip to the great Pacific Northwest, make the time to stop by his studio or give him a call at 503-975-1259. I am sure you won't be disappointed.

More from Hamid Shibata Bennett, LMT:

Advanced massage & bodywork

Make your voice heard at the Community Health Project



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