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So What is Trager Anyway?
Watch Audrey demonstrate and discuss the Trager Approach with Cameron Moffit of the TV show “Choices.” If you’re curious to see how an experienced Trager practitioner works and speaks this is a great fifteen minute segment.
The Trager Approach uses touch and physical movement to invite the body/mind to experience feelings of lightness, of softness, of bliss through something called Hook-Up. “Hook-Up is a state of being,” Dr. Milton Trager said on many occasions. “It is a Hook-Up of this power that you are surrounded by. It is a life-giving, life-regulating power that has always been there and will always be there. And you can’t try to get it. You can’t try to Hook-Up because to try is to fail. You don’t try. To try is effort and effort is tension. We don’t try. We just allow it to happen. You are going to feel. It is not the moves I do or the technique. Drop the word ‘technique.’ [Trager] is not a technique. It is something different.”
This quotation captures the core of the Trager Approach. Yes, there are many “moves” and “techniques” a Trager practitioner learns – the training is intensive – but they are merely the craft of our trade. Just as a writer knows grammar and a guitarist knows chords, a Trager practitioner knows the body – its muscles, bones, and tissue. Such knowledge, however, is not enough, just as knowing grammar or chords is not enough to make great literature or toe-tapping music. To turn craft into something different, something more, something that transcends our limited understanding, a Trager practitioner needs to be able to Hook-Up to the life-giving, life-regulating power that is everywhere at all times. It is for this reason that Dr. Trager suggested we “drop the word ‘technique.’ ” Dr. Trager knew that at a certain point his students had to let go of their training, stay out of their own way, and get into Hook-Up by arriving in the present moment. In a state of presence, feelings of lightness, softness, and bliss infuse the body/mind, turning technique into an effortless vehicle to transfer these feelings into the client’s body and therefore mind.
This is why the Trager Approach (also known as Trager Psychophysical Integration) operates through pleasurable, effortless, easy movement, which softly and safely introduces the body/mind to what it would be like if it were free to function without restriction.
When Dr. Trager was young he developed his muscles and sharpened his movement as an amateur acrobat, performing stunts with his brother on the beaches of Miami. But while his brother asked the question, “Who can jump the highest?” Milton asked, “Who can land the softest?” As a result of this way of thinking, he became fascinated with the light, dancelike movements of boxers, and at the age of eighteen started training under a man named Mickey Martin. One fateful day Mickey looked like he needed to receive a rubdown rather than give one.
“Lie down, Mickey,” young Milton said. “Let me take care of you for a change.” A complete novice at bodywork, Milton let his hands innocently explore.
“Where did you learn to do that?” an amazed Mickey asked afterward.
“Well, you taught me.”
“I never taught you anything like that, kid, but I don’t care. Let me tell you, you got hands!”
Intrigued by this newfound talent, Milton practiced on his family and neighbors. His first patient was his father, who had been suffering from sciatica for two years. After Milton “worked” on him for two weeks, he never had symptoms of sciatica again.
Was it his technique that made such a dramatic difference to his father’s health? At this stage in Milton’s development, undoubtedly not. It was his ability to Hook-Up while in the present moment, an ability we all have. In fact, it is our birthright, our natural way of being. Unfortunately, as we age many of us forget what this life-regulating power from our source feels like. It falls into the background, soon becoming hindered by ego-based beliefs, then all but forgotten. Most of us shake our heads in wonder when asked what it feels like in our body to be connected with our source.
One way to get a direct experience of this feeling is to engage in a wholehearted application of the exercises provided in both books and CD. Another way is to catch it (like catching the measles, except without the fever, itch, and skin eruptions) from someone who has got it. A Trager practitioner is just such a person.
If you were to have a Trager Session, you would find that no oils or lotions are used. You would lie passively on a well-padded table (your choice of being clothed or partially unclothed) while the practitioner, who is consciously Hooked-Up, gently rocks, compresses, elongates, jiggles, and shimmers the tissue in your body. You would experience the practitioner playing along the border of restriction and freedom, inviting into your tissue feelings of lightness, of softness, of bliss.
The session would soon become a movement reeducation that addressed the physical and nonphysical aspects of your body/mind, thereby giving you (whether you knew it or not) an alternative to any erroneous physical and mental patterns you might be holding onto. Through the deep but nonintrusive touch that is Trager’s signature, your practitioner would introduce you to the place of all possibility, to the origin of everything you have ever thought, felt, or imagined, to that life-giving, life-regulating power all around us. You would know this by the expansive open feeling in your tissue, as if the gravity holding you down had lessened. You would know this by how your joints would seem to have been lubricated, how your breath would deepen, how your mind would quiet. The combination of the practitioner’s skill at the craft plus the ability to stand in the present moment (and thereby Hook-Up to source) allows for such a transference.
Dr. Trager taught his students how to stand effortlessly in presence – the state of mind that gives the Trager Approach its magic and power. He developed ways for anyone to put themselves quickly and effortlessly in the present moment, automatically eliciting the feeling of Hook-Up. He called these tools Mentastics (a term coined by his wife, Emily, from the words mental gymnastics).
In Dr. Trager’s opinion, it is just as important – if not more important – to use Mentastics after the session, off the table (or if you’re unable to get a session) to allow the learning process in the nervous system to continue. Mentastics take very little time and are performed alongside everything else we do. In fact, when we use Mentastics throughout our day – washing dishes, making phone calls, walking to the mall – we not only regain and reinforce the feelings received during a session, we also independently foster our growth into presence. The more we stand in presence, the more the feeling of connection to our source grows, the more we are fed this energy, the clearer our decisions, the more relaxed and the healthier our body, the more creative our mind. Each of us can experience these lingering effects of the Trager Approach to body/mind integration by repeatedly practicing the Mentastics presented in Trager for Self-Healing or Pathway to Presence E-Book and CD combo.
For More information on the Trager Approach contact the Trager International website at www.Trager.com
Praise for Audrey’s Work
"Audrey Mairi is inspired. She has breathed in the light, and she breathes out her learning so that others may catch it and keep it going. The beautiful work of Milton Trager is the light of her inspiration."
Jack Liskin, assistant professor of clinical family medicine, University of Southern California School of Medicine, and author of Moving Medicine: The Life and Work of Milton Trager, MD
Praise for Trager for Self-Healing
“This is the most thorough and accurate description of the Trager Approach that I have read.”
Deane Juhan, Senior Trager instructor, author of Job’s Body: A Handbook for Bodywork, and Touched by the Goddess: The Physical, Psychological, and Spiritual Powers of Bodywork.
Praise for Pathway to Presence Combo
“Audrey Mairi’s work helped me transcend my old beliefs and habitual way of being. By consistently using the exercises in her E-Book and audio CD, I’ve discovered an inexhaustible well of inner peace that I can tap into no matter what is happening in my outer life.”
Paul Latour , Founder of the Hero Work Society.
Praise for Pathway to Presence E-Book
“Pathway to Presence is absolutely fabulous. A gem of a handbook to happiness. The shifts from narrative to scenarios to exercises are perfect.”
Susan Healey , Policy Communications Professional.
Praise for Pathway to Presence CD
“Audrey, I love your CD. Almost always the voice carrying a guided meditation is "off" in some way that leaves me feeling irritated. Not yours. I love the clean authenticity of your delivery, congruence of content and form. What a relief to be able to wholeheartedly recommend it with no caveat or qualm!“
Susan Holper , Senior Trager Practitioner, Tutor.
Praise for Audrey’s Workshops
“My two day experience in Audrey Mairi’s workshop resulted in a definite shift in my sense of alignment within my body and in relationship with the earth. Not only do I feel more grounded but also noticed that most of my aches and pains have disappeared. Her teachings are clear, the exercises and concepts profoundly simple and mightily effective. I had fun learning and therefore can remember each segment easily and with joy. I highly recommend her workshops, her book, her CD and deeply value her private sessions.“
Elfi Dillon Shaw RMT, Bodywork Co- ordinator at the Haven Institute Gabriola Island BC Canada.