Whitney and Til compare notes about some of the major influences on their own careers, and along the way discuss topics such as:
-The development of massage and bodywork practice and education
-Their Esalen Institute and Emory University crossroads
-The role of lineage, personality, and standards
-The evolution of online learning
-Mentors and mentoring
…and much more.

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(The Thinking Practitioner Podcast is intended for professional practitioners of manual and movement therapies: bodywork, massage therapy, structural integration, chiropractic, myofascial and myotherapy, orthopedic, sports massage, physical therapy, osteopathy, yoga, strength and conditioning, and similar professions. It is not medical or treatment advice.)

 

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Til Luchau                          Whitney Lowe

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Til Luchau

whitney lowe
Whitney Lowe

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Full Transcript (click me!)

The Thinking Practitioner Podcast:
Episode 59: What Influenced You?

Whitney Lowe:

Hi, this is Whitney Lowe and Books of Discovery has been a part of massage therapy education for over two 20 years. Thousands of schools around the world teach with their textbooks, eTextbooks, and digital resources. In these trying times, this beloved publisher is dedicated to helping educators with online, friendly, digital resources that make instruction easier and more effective in the classroom or virtually.

Til Luchau:

Books of Discovery likes to say learning starts here. My name is Til Luchau, and they see that same spirit here on The Thinking Practitioner Podcast, where I'm with Whitney Lowe. They're proud to support our work, knowing we share the mission to bring the massage and body work community enlivening content that advances our profession. Check out their collection of eTextbooks and digital learning resources for pathology, kinesiology, anatomy, and physiology at booksofdiscovery.com, where thinking practitioners learners can save 15% by entering thinking at checkout. Hey, Whitney, how you doing?

Whitney Lowe:

I'm doing well, sir. And how are you today?

Til Luchau:

I'm good enough. Thanks.

Whitney Lowe:

All right.

Til Luchau:

Well, what's new in your part of the universe?

Whitney Lowe:

Well, we're having a warm spell here over in Central Oregon. Those of us who work on the bird rehab front are a little concerned. This is an interesting little ecological tidbit here. When you have warm winters and warm spells in the winter, bugs come out, they start to come out sooner than they should. And when the bugs come out early, they often hatch early. And then, there's another cold spell again, and then when the birds actually hatch out, the bugs aren't in abundance. And I don't know if you've been hearing much about this, but there is something that a lot of people are referring to as the insect apocalypse that is-

Til Luchau:

Insect apocalypse.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. We are actually having a very serious crash in the insect population-

Til Luchau:

Holy moly.

Whitney Lowe:

... that's been happening over recent years. And that has huge ramifications for the whole ecological web. So, we're noticing a good bit of that. And we've been watching this process.

Til Luchau:

Disruption of temperature cycles, this changes hatch timing and the whole-

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, there's-

Til Luchau:

... cascade of things that evolve together.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. There's all kinds of things. It's climate change, it's pesticides, it's all kinds of things that are leading to this. And so, a lot of people don't realize that a serious crash in the insect population is going to have some very, very, serious ramifications on all stuff. Food pollination, for example, it's just-

Til Luchau:

Food.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah.

Til Luchau:

Pollination of food crops, yeah. And then, just the base, the protein base, for most of the life, I guess. I remember reading how many pounds or tons of protein per acre there is that's mostly this 90% plus insect life. And that's most of that protein synthesis on earth happens in the insect level and then works its way up the food chain.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, yeah. So, interesting things. And we're watching the early stages of this. So, this is the literal canary in the coal mine indicator for a lot of these things that I think we should be watching for coming down the pike. So-

Til Luchau:

Wow.

Whitney Lowe:

... anyway.

Til Luchau:

Another way the base of our pyramid is wobbly.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. Yeah. I think that's true. Yeah. I think it's true.

Til Luchau:

Walking on shaky ground. Walking on shifting sands, as Ida Rolf said. She said that was the biggest skill.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. Yeah. I think we're all doing that. I think we're all doing that, so.

Til Luchau:

Well, besides that, what are we talking about today?

Whitney Lowe:

Well, let's see, I think today, you and I were having some conversations about things that really shaped us significantly and were influential things for us in our career. And we said, "Hey, we should talk some more about this in depth." What are the big things that have been most influential for each of us and share those with people and see if this opens up some thought processes and dialogues about what shapes each of our different paths and what takes us down the directions that we to go in?

Til Luchau:

Yeah, I'm curious about yours. And just curious because I know you, and like you, I'm curious about how you got to where you are. But I'm also interested just in how you got, as a person, as a colleague in this field, how you got shaped, what kinds of things sent you on your way? And then, you asked me to that question in advance, and it's interesting to see the list that came out of it for me, me too. So, I think there might be a universal level here that I'm interested in as well, like what gets us where we are today?

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. It's hard to draw that line and determine where some of those things are about how influential certain things we're in our career and how far do we go back? Like, okay, your childhood is probably pretty influential somehow or other. And so, where do we draw that line of significant things? But we probably were born into.

Til Luchau:

The arrow we were born in. Exactly.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. Super, super detailed about that, but-

Til Luchau:

Well, okay. So who's starting? Should I start?

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. Start, start off.

Til Luchau:

All right.

Whitney Lowe:

Give me some most influential things. I'm not necessarily in an order. I don't know we'll take them in an order. We can maybe go importance, chronological, or however you want to handle it.

Til Luchau:

And the question is, what events shaped the direction my career took?

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. What has been most influential for-

Til Luchau:

What's the most influential.

Whitney Lowe:

... shaping your path, your career, your direction and everything.

Til Luchau:

Okay. I brainstormed about 20 things. I'm not going to go through all of them. But when you ask that question, just now the one that came to me was showing up... And I'm just realizing now, it was 1983. So, that's almost exactly 40 years ago. Showing up at the gates of the Esalen Institute and saying, "Hey, I want to learn what you guys do. I've heard about you. I've read some stuff. I just want to do this." And I basically drove my old VW van down the hill there and said, "Could I come by?" And they said, no. They said, "You need to be totally in a program and do all this stuff. You can't just drop by."

Til Luchau:

But I was really interested in what I'd been reading. This was early eighties. So, I went and got in a program. That was influential because it was a place so many things were happening still at that time. I think, Esalen Institute, if you don't know about it, was influential on the culture in the sixties and the seventies, and then into the first part of the eighties when I was there to some extent. And a lot of the, say the Western traditions of body work, but certainly psychotherapy, and somatic work, and movement, spirituality, philosophy, things like that were being tossed around, and explored, and deep into there at the Institute.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. When I was studying psychology in grad school, I was really into Fritz Perls a lot. That's where I first learned about Esalen and the things that were going on there.

Til Luchau:

That's right.

Whitney Lowe:

Was he still around at that time or-

Til Luchau:

He died in 1969 or 1970, I believe. I got there in '83, so no. He-

Whitney Lowe:

Oh, okay. Yeah, quite a bit after that, yeah.

Til Luchau:

Yeah. His shadow was pretty large. There was still many of his students there. And that was why I went there. I wanted to learn Gestalt, Fritz Perl's work. So, lots of Fritz stories, and we'd watch Fritz movies, and Fritz study groups and things like that.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. Well, that's a pretty gutsy move for a, let me think, 22-year-old.

Til Luchau:

  1. Yep.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah.

Til Luchau:

Good math. Yeah.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. At that time. How did that-

Til Luchau:

How did that happen?

Whitney Lowe:

Did you just like, "I got to do this," kind of thing?

Til Luchau:

Well, I think, I mean, when you and I started the podcast, we interviewed each other about our backgrounds. And I think I told some of that story then, so I don't need to go back into it a whole lot. But there was a couple things. I think heard about the Esalen Institute from a massage book that I found in a bookstore in London. It was George Downing's really... I mean, Anne Kent Rush did these nice line drawings. It was very sixties, seventies kind of feel.

Whitney Lowe:

I remember that book. Yep.

Til Luchau:

Yeah. And I thought, "This is cool." You could just, like a manual, you could go through and see there's things to do. And then, so I started learning it. Then, that was all about Esalen. And then, one of my teachers in high school was on her way out of teaching high school, it turned out, and on her way into being a psychotherapist. And she would do little groups with us as part of her practice, and her education, and her internship hours, do Gestalt groups with us after school. And that was really good for me at that time of my life.

Til Luchau:

And so, at that point, when I'm 22 and I tried a bunch of stuff, and done a few years of college, and says, "Yeah, not now." I got back to it later, but at that point, "No, I want to do this. What do I want to do? I think I want to learn can stop. I'm just going to go see what happens."

Whitney Lowe:

Interesting.

Til Luchau:

And then, I mean, just to not tell you all about the five years I was there, but basically got on staff eventually, trained in every kind of therapy I could, including a lot of hands on therapies. And those are the ones that had the doors that opened the soonest. I went there to train in psychotherapy. But really, when I look back at, again, what happened there, it was those body work doors that opened wide and had some opportunities, so that I jump into and were great.

Whitney Lowe:

That's such a fascinating parallel with the both of us, because both of us got into this field from psychology, going in that direction, and then eventually moving in towards what we were doing with more hands on manual therapy approaches and everything. So, I imagine that's certainly I think that's true for you and it is true for me that has continued to be a significant influence, those perspectives and times. Yeah.

Til Luchau:

It has. I mean, I do you come out of that human potential tradition where a lot of the body work that was being taught had that dimension of personal development in it, as opposed to just purely, say, a technical field, or a medical field, or a rehab field, or even a relaxation field. It was really about working on ourselves, becoming more aware, working with our own boundaries, awareness, energy, body, that kind of stuff. How about you? What's what comes to mind for you when I ask about influential events along the way?

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. I think about those things. And for me it's also a turn of events very early in my career. For me, I think a big one is my early association with Emory University in a couple different ways. One was I had a great fortune of meeting and running into one of the physical therapists that was working with the Emory Clinic, and they were getting ready to build a totally state of the art orthopedic clinic. And ironically, it was just right down the road from my house. When I was growing up, I lived very near to Emory University. And so, she was asking me, she knew that I was involved with massage and wanted to know if I wanted to come over and be a part of this clinic. And I thought, "Well, yeah. This is going to be great." And I was thinking about this earlier today when I was thinking about these different things. There's another interesting backstory to this, which is that they didn't know, at the Emory Clinic, that I had been banned from the Emory University campus for life by the campus-

Til Luchau:

There's a story.

Whitney Lowe:

... by the campus police. When we were high school kids-

Til Luchau:

Up to your usual tricks...

Whitney Lowe:

... there was a lot of mischief that went on with us getting over and doing things on the Emory campus. It started when I was really young with skateboarding in the parking decks in there. And the police would always try to chase us and catch us in the parking decks. And they never could, because you could just skateboard down these ramps and then jump into the stairwells or whatever. So-

Til Luchau:

Faster than the police. That's pretty nefarious. I don't know if it escalated from there, but you got to do something to get banned for life.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. So anyway, that was funny. But the whole thing with Emory was very different. This was an orthopedic clinic that had a wide group of individuals, physical therapists, athletic trainers, spine specialists, orthopedic surgeons, all working together in this team approach. And this is the first time I had really looked at this whole idea of team care. And at that time also I was spending a lot of time in the medical library, because this clinic was also a teaching clinic for the medical students there. And it was just such an absolutely rich environment with a group of people that were also really curious. Because it was one of those kinds of things where we'd ask each other questions about what are you doing here? What are you doing there? How are you doing this?

Whitney Lowe:

And I would ask the orthopedist, "Can I follow you on round and ask you about the patients?" I'd go into the treatment room and sit in on those things. One day, I was following the orthopedist, the chief orthopedist, around on his round. We went into this room and there was my old girlfriend was one of the patients in there. And she just startled. I hadn't seen her in many, many years. And she looked up at me. She goes, "My God, are you a doctor?"

Til Luchau:

"I thought you were banned for life," she said.

Whitney Lowe:

No, just a massage therapist here following around. It was funny situation. But that place really got me to see a lot of the big picture of the healthcare system and looking at ways in which massage can integrate with the system, and also find ways that... We were exploring and doing all kinds of experimental processes, with massage. And like "Will it work on this?" "I have no idea. Let's try it." And, "Will it work on that?" And sometimes it did and sometimes it didn't. And it really helped me begin to have a mental database of understanding what kinds of things might benefit and work better from that process and what things wouldn't.

Til Luchau:

What a great opportunity, both the environment of the inquiry and then being exposed to all the different professions and fields. Working with people in an orthopedic way and had the chance to actually get the experience and see what worked and what didn't.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. Yeah. It was really fascinating and it really shaped a great deal of my learning and perspectives ever since that time. And inspiring, totally inspiring. It was, for me, absolute like a dream job. And I ended up, when I left there several years later, I was leaving because I was moving out of town, and it was hard to leave that job, because I just thought I will never get another opportunity like this again. And this has just been such a wonderful really moving experience. So, I had-

Til Luchau:

It was hard to leave.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. Yeah. So, what's next on your list?

Til Luchau:

Other things that have been influenced my careers, I mean, I just have to pay homage to various mentors along the way, who essentially... They all taught me something in terms of content or style. But really the biggest influence when I just made my list here was the fact that they believed in me, and either gave me opportunities or encouraged me to take opportunities. Like Rita Rawlin, who was there at the Esalen Institute, who was teaching workshops in Mexico and wanted someone to teach some body work.

Til Luchau:

So, I was on the massage crew at Esalen and doing some teaching there, pretty junior position. She took me on my first international trip and my first non-Esalen teaching gig, where I just had to teach basic massage in her workshops for her in Mexico. And that was a big moment for me, and her belief in me. I was probably goodness, 23, 24, no, probably 24 by then. So, it was early on. But there's a list of them. I got a list of a dozen names or so, people who at just a different times says, "Yeah, I think you can do this. Here, let's throw in, see how it goes." Yeah.

Whitney Lowe:

Great, great opportunities. And you and I talked about this too, this term I've heard before about a talent vortex of just when you're involved and around a group of really talented people, how that tends-

Til Luchau:

When was that?

Whitney Lowe:

... to build that whole is the greater than the sum of the parts process the thoughts, and the things that come up, and the ideas that are germinated from those kinds of experiences.

Til Luchau:

Well, yeah, there's certainly the environment there at Esalen, which is where Rita was. But also that act of mentoring I think really... It launched me, but it really made me realize how powerful I could be in people's lives too. It probably steered me toward the teaching I do, to realize that people need encouragement. And sometimes, that's all they need. They know so much. Or they just need to believe in themselves, and I can help support that too.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. Yeah. And I think you have certainly continued to do that and become a mentor to a lot of other people down the road. So, those are lessons that are getting passed down the road, I think, very effectively.

Til Luchau:

Wow. And then, continue to have my own mentors and more and more layers of both being supported and realizing what I don't know, and that kind of thing.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah.

Til Luchau:

Okay. So your turn. How about you? Another one for you.

Whitney Lowe:

Well, another one for me, this is probably, this would top list in terms of degree of influence, I think, and this comes under the category of make lemonade when you're given lemons kind of thing.

Whitney Lowe:

I'll subtitle this, my accidental move to Oregon. So, at the end. I think I told this story. I can't remember if I told that in our beginning episode. But I had left Atlanta in the mid nineties, about 94, and was intending to move out to Colorado, to your town in fact.

Til Luchau:

Boulder.

Whitney Lowe:

Into Boulder, because it was such a body work mecca. And I thought this was the holy grail. My wife, at that time, and I were moving there to try to get in on that scene and then couldn't find an affordable place to live in the Boulder area. We were trying to sit around and figure out what to do. She said, "Well, you've always said you want to go back to Oregon," because I'd been to Oregon 10 years earlier and just fallen in love with this place. She goes, "Let's just go there." And so, we just got in the car and drove out there and ended up out on the coast of Oregon without intending to move there. And the big problem was that I had not investigated the licensure laws in Oregon prior to moving there.

Til Luchau:

And Oregon has pretty strict licensure laws.

Whitney Lowe:

At that time, and this was 1994, yeah. You had to wait until the next licensing exam came up before you could take a license to practice. I assumed I would jump in and start practicing and make a living. And we started renting this house on a very remote part of the Oregon Coast in a very remote area. And all of a sudden, I couldn't work because the next licensure test was six months away. And had no money, I was broke. But we had paid off all of our debts, and credit card bills, and everything before we left.

Whitney Lowe:

To me, it was like, "Okay. Now what?" And so, began thinking, I've been wanting to create educational materials for massage therapists and there's an opening here now to do that. I've been given six months of time where I can really just completely devote myself 100% to starting something like this, and I think there is a future in producing educational materials for massage therapists.

Whitney Lowe:

And then, basically, that was the spark and the fire that lit the whole process of what I started doing with the business of producing educational materials. Because, I was very interested in education, and we had, at that time, and this was again mid-nineties, a real lack of any good educational materials for massage therapists in a lot of the massage schools. And so, I really thought there was a way to begin filling that void. That forced me, again because I was broke, and also because of technology at that time wasn't that advanced in producing some of the kinds of things that we were doing. I mean, I was not that far removed from the early days of Scotch taping pictures onto a piece of paper and photocopying them as...

Til Luchau:

Oh, I've been there.

Whitney Lowe:

...training manuals. Yeah. And so-

Til Luchau:

And then, to gather, to do the background research, there wasn't Google.

Whitney Lowe:

No. Yeah. Yeah, it was-

Til Luchau:

Go down to the library, find as big a library you can and just dig in.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. I had moved out to the Oregon Coast and there were no libraries within-

Til Luchau:

Sure, yeah.

Whitney Lowe:

... anywhere near where I was out there. And so, it forced me into learning a lot very fast about learning how to write, learning desktop publishing, learning about graphics, and graphic formats, and all those things that are involved with producing those kinds of materials. But then, also organizing content and putting it together. And then also, how does that blend in with what you're doing in the classroom and in the teaching environment as well?

Whitney Lowe:

And I had only just begun a little bit of a foray into teaching continued education workshops that I had been doing with Benny Vaughn at that time. So, that was starting to put some emphasis on, I need to figure out how to get some of this stuff going really quickly. It was a very rapid fire learning process. But it turned out to be really very inspirational and helpful throughout the rest of my career, because having to learn all of that stuff by necessity to feed myself. Again, I lived off my credit cards for six months and racked up a huge amount of debt in doing that. But I was committed to the vision. I was committed to vision to making it happen.

Til Luchau:

That's awesome.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah.

Til Luchau:

I like the-

Whitney Lowe:

I had taken even a business plan, constructed a business plan, and gone around to these banks and said, "I believe there is a future as a massage education business." Gave them all these details about the number of schools, and the lack of resources, and all this stuff. And they said, "Wow, this is really interesting, good luck."

Til Luchau:

Good luck. They didn't want to have a part of it, huh?

Whitney Lowe:

No part of it.

Til Luchau:

We're hearing a little origin story. This is so interesting. It's like Jeff Bezos inventing Amazon in the front seat of his car driving across the country, or whatever story that is. This is how Whitney... You saw an opportunity, you saw a place there wasn't a lot being done, and you had some need, and you had some time, and you started to move into that space.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah.

Til Luchau:

That's cool.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, so.

Til Luchau:

I hope someday we get Drew Biel to come tell his story. He's one of our sponsors at Books of Discovery, of today's episodes. And he has some great stories too about the same quandary. There's just no educational materials he was teaching.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. Yeah.

Til Luchau:

And how his trail into the body came about, that kind of thing.

Whitney Lowe:

That's one of those things that was just such the right thing at the right time. A few years ago, when they launched Trail Guide to Movement, they had a big celebration out there in Colorado. And Drew asked me to come out and talk about this. And I said, "One of the things that I'll say about this book and also about the trail guide that I have heard probably at the very least a dozen educators say is, man, I wish I'd written that book." Because, so many of them had a similar idea, but he really, he had the right equations and the right resources to make it happen and to put it all together.

Til Luchau:

Yeah, he did. That's great.

Whitney Lowe:

So what's your next influential piece here?

Til Luchau:

Yeah, there's so many, aren't there? It's probably getting hired at the Rolf Institute, Tom Myers. On the list of mentors, Tom's there. But he hired me to assist him in a training at the Rolf Institute. And I was to be the body work teacher. He was the anatomy teacher, et cetera. And that, I had trained as a Rolfer. I was working as a Rolfer that time. But that turned out to be a really rich chapter in my life of about 20 years working there at the Rolf Institute. And I ended up with that program as the coordinator of that program, which was the entry level program at the Rolf Institute. And there was so much freedom, and so much interest, and such motivated students coming in. It was such a rich time in the field. This was early nineties, again, so much was being written about, talked about, brought out.

Til Luchau:

So, I brought Tom back to be a teacher. I brought Peter Levine in to be the psychology teacher. Drew Johan came in and taught about connective tissue. I was just like, "Who's out there doing interesting work?" John Cottingham who did some of the initial work with Steven Porges. Just, who's the most interesting people in the field? How can we get them to come in here and lecture to us? And so, I was both coordinating that program and learning a lot.

Til Luchau:

And then, like I said, it turned into a two decade career, position on the faculty there, at that entry level program, and then also out into the rest of the program over time. Robert Schleip was a big influence on me there. And I still have, Jan Sultan, still have connections from that time. And then, the arc of that was that after 20 years had passed, it was pretty clear to, very amicably that it was just the things I want to do were outside of that realm. And so, gradually started doing that. And that became what I'm doing now, as well the advanced trainings and the series of workshops there.

Whitney Lowe:

Refresh me a little bit, because I think this is interesting history. And for those that don't know, and I'd like your take on this too. If I remember correctly and understand, there was a split of two different camps that was happening around that time.

Til Luchau:

That's right.

Whitney Lowe:

Is that correct?

Til Luchau:

Well, yeah, that was just within the first couple years I was there. I trained with one the figureheads because they have one camp, Emma Hutchins. And then, then there was, it was probably philosophical, but a lot of it was personality and organizational. There's lots of reasons why organizations split or people fight. It was very painful for a lot of people involved, because my main teachers were on these two different camps. There was a point at which the senior teacher, one of the senior teachers there, quit as well as the director of the school was fired. And they left in the middle of a course I was teaching with Tom. We had to deal with the students', of course, questions. What does this mean? My God.

Til Luchau:

And so, no, it was a very rough time emotionally and on the vision of the work. There's a lot of, probably a lot of hurt feelings in any kind of process like that. But over time it became a diversification or richness to the field too that's allowed a lot of different things to connect. Tom eventually left the Rolf Institute too. Again, he's gone a long ways with what he's doing. He was pretty instrumental in creating an umbrella organization to reconnect all splinter's from Ida Rolf's tree, which had gone so many different directions.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. That was one of the earlier more significant splits. And then, there have been what seems like multiple different branching processes that have come out of that from the things that have happened through that process.

Til Luchau:

Yeah. I think it'd be interesting to trace that out, like a family tree. Most of the other branchings were individuals, or maybe a couple people who would leave and start their own school, because they just wanted to do it their way or whatever. That was never their plan to be part of the Institute. So, there's lots of different structural integration disciplines. Most of them were around a person, or personality, or approach. I'm thinking of Joseph Heller. I'm thinking of the Guild, which was again Emma Hutchins, and Peter Melchior, the ones they started as they left. Tom Myers, Anatomy Trains, on down the list. And then, a bunch of us came out of there. I came out of there, Erik Dalton, Art Riggs, Judith Aston, a bunch of us were Rolfers that eventually found ways to continue the work outside of the institute that we'd started there.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. I've always been so fascinated by some of the comparisons of that lineage model of education versus some of the more standard academic structures that we see in some of these other professions. Clearly, in some early professions, there's often the case because you have a dynamic personality that's at the start of something. And then, they have core students, some of which, again, that whole talent vortex, you bring a lot of people together and it boosts the overall creativity and inspiration from everybody involved. And then, they may end up going off in some slightly different directions as well. And so, you see that whole growth and branching process evolve.

Til Luchau:

Growth and branching, evolution, standardization. Usually crises of "My God, we're losing the vision," or it's getting stale, or whatever else, and renewal along the way. It was similar dynamics at Esalen, because I was there, like I said, maybe 10, 12 years after Fritz Perls died. I was there three or four years after Ida Rolf had died. And there were still many of her students there teaching the work. So, those discussions were very much going on. It's like, do we do it exactly how the founder does? Do we evolve it? Is it still what it was if we change it a little bit. And what are the new centers of gravity? Do we center around new people or do we center around ideas, or processes, or institutions? All those things getting sorted out for sure.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. Yeah. There's a lot of parallels with other things. I mean, there's parallels with the way you see, I mean, even things like religions evolve after a dynamic individual or some kind of person leading the pack. And then, do we stick exactly to what they said or do we bring in new influences and new ideas? And is that heretical to do that? It brings up a lot of questioning. And some people like the questioning and some people don't like the questioning of those things, for sure.

Til Luchau:

Yeah. That's right. That's right. It's the, how do bodies of knowledge persist and how do they evolve and adapt over time?

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. Yeah.

Til Luchau:

Okay. So how about you?

Whitney Lowe:

Well, see, I have one more here that I think was, if I think about the big ones, and this is not so much an event, but I would say a trend. Of course, a lot of these things have not necessarily been events that we've talked. This is certainly very influential trend of things. And this happened after I had been teaching continuing education workshops for a number of years, and I would say it was probably coming to a head in the late 1990s. And this was a frustration with the format that I was having to teach a lot in. And this was the weekend workshop format, and a frustration that I was having in trying to teach more complex clinical reasoning processes in a two-day weekend course.

Til Luchau:

In little bits. I am right with you, my friend.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. And recognizing, this is at the point too, I was starting to dive into a lot of the, read of the literature about learning theory and learning science, and starting to recognize that there were some things that I was seeing happening in the classroom. And you've seen this, I'm sure, a dozen times as an instructor, where you present something, you think you present it really well, you ask the students, "Does anybody have any questions?" Nobody has any questions. And then, you go to do some type of practical application with those concepts and ideas a couple minutes later, and people look at you like a deer in the headlights. Like, "I don't know how to do this, because you didn't tell us what to do here."

Whitney Lowe:

And I realized that a lot of this goes back to the way early education forms us to really be told information and just told everything by the instructor. And then we just repeat that back on an exam at some point. And that is supposed to indicate mastery of concepts and ideas. That whole idea really began to fall apart for me during that time.

Whitney Lowe:

I started thinking, there's got to be another way to do this more effectively. It's what drove me to start paying a lot more attention to... I was looking into the educational strategies in other healthcare professions, in the medical school, and the nursing schools, and physical therapy training programs. How were they doing some of these kinds of things? For me, that was actually the beginning of questioning and looking into online education, because I started thinking and learning about a lot of things around multimedia learning theory and the idea of spacing content over longer periods of time, so that people could incorporate that better. And then, come back and use retrieval practice to pull that up again and do something else with it. I recognized that a lot of this stuff couldn't happen-

Til Luchau:

In a tow-day cycle.

Whitney Lowe:

... in a two in a two-day intensive course like this. Logistically, it wasn't going to work. And that's what really drove me to start exploring the frontiers of really high quality online learning experiences. And again, this is the early 1990s and early 2000s. And the technology for doing this kind of stuff was really rudimentary at that time. My first couple of forays into that were very basic kinds of things too. What I saw wanting to do, which just wasn't really practical with some of the technological limitations, but-

Til Luchau:

Well, it could, I mean, even an image had to be super compressed, forget video or audio.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, yeah. There was no video or audio things that were going to happen because, it was back to the dial-up connections, and 28K modems, and all that kind of thing that people were on at that time. So, there was a vision of something that could possibly happen in the future, but I was also forced to learn a whole lot more about software and some of the tools that were being used to build some of this stuff. And I-

Til Luchau:

Wait a minute, wait a minute, you said forced.

Whitney Lowe:

Forced, yeah, by necessity.

Til Luchau:

Don't you like it a little bit?

Whitney Lowe:

I love it. But it's like, when saying the forced thing, here's where I'm getting that from, is that I began with some ideas about how I was going to do this. I said, "I need to go to some people who've done this really well." And I saw that there was some really good advancements that were going on over at the University of British Columbia. And I started talking to some of the people in the instructional design department here about this and how we would do some of these kinds of things, and how we would deploy it. And I was going to work with them on this program I was building. We started going through some of the process, and I got to a point of saying... We were having some difficulty of translating some of the content into ways that I wanted them to build things. I was just saying, "Wait a minute, I can really do this better-

Til Luchau:

Yourself.

Whitney Lowe:

... because I know the content.

Til Luchau:

That's right.

Whitney Lowe:

I know what needs to happen. But in order to do that, I'm going to have to learn a whole lot more about software, and the learning processes, and things like that. So, that's where the forced learning came into it. But you're absolutely right. I'm a geek. There's no doubt about that. And I loved learning that stuff, because I thought it was fascinating. So-

Til Luchau:

Yeah, no, you're right. Just for myself too, it is a love of necessity or something like that. A necessary love, because from switching from slide carousels to PowerPoint, to online learning, each of that was the technical hurdle in a way, but it was exciting, and continues to be. And it's not separate from the craft of teaching and educating, I would say. Of course, the technical skills, but also learning how to use that technology. And so, at some point, yeah, it's easy for me just to go edit my own video than look over someone's shoulder, and say, "Yeah, right there. That's it. That's the moment." Yeah.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. Right, exactly. And some of the software tools that we're able to build more complex, branching, scenario learning activities would be effective for doing some of the things that I was trying to get people to do with clinical reasoning. And I couldn't do that by just having them read up PDF document, or watch a video, or things like that.

Til Luchau:

Get inside the head, yeah.

Whitney Lowe:

There had to be trial and error. There had to be a way for people to have mistakes, and learn different pathways of thinking, and all that kinds of... To mimic what really happens in the clinical reasoning process.

Til Luchau:

To move through a process and not just down a single stream.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. So, yeah. Yeah. To me, it has continued to be a fascinating journey, but I think something that's really pushed the envelope of making me look at what is possible and what can we do to really model high quality learning processes in that environment. Because that's, to me, that's a far better way to teach the complexities of clinical reasoning than it is to try to do this in our standard classroom environments, which is essentially one pace fits all. And everybody has to follow the pace of whatever the teacher is delivering. And they can't take their time to make individual pathways, choices, and mistakes, and back, and learn from those, and do things. It's logistically not feasible, especially in the weekend workshop format. So, yeah.

Til Luchau:

Yeah, that's great. That's true. And so, you found ways to continue that evolution and to replicate that process, refine that process, in your online programs.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. And it continues to be in an exploration process of look at what I... I'm still very much, reading, learning, and listening to a lot of what's happening in the new instructional design forums and books that are out, and things like that, and looking towards the future. And people are now talking about "Well, when is artificial intelligence going to start making more of a dent in this? And how can we do things with virtual reality?" And like, "Wow, it's really getting far down the road with some of these kinds of things." But the trick there is to not get sucked into the bells and whistles of technology and lose the key concepts of making good instructional design, because that's where the rubber really hits the road is, is this a good and worthy instructional design to get across what you're trying to do? Or is it just the wow factor?

Til Luchau:

Right. The fundamentals of the design, the actual progression of the content, the way it's presented, and the ideas and concepts that build all those is what makes the difference. And then, the channels that we learn in, I mean, Zoom fatigue is probably the biggest enemy of all this stuff, just too much time in one mode of doing things that are burning people out. I mean, COVID was such a watershed moment, where so many people says, "Okay, I'll give it a try," at the online learning thing. A good number of them go, "Wow, this is actually better than I though. This could be okay." And then, a good number goes, "No, this sucks. I can't even log in. Forget it. I'll stay with what I know."

Whitney Lowe:

And so much what happens during the COVID process, it was, to me, I think it will turn out, in the long run, as we look back on it in hindsight to be a good accelerator of some needed changes in our educational strategies and methods to see... Because a lot of us were banging our fists on the door saying, "Look at the potential and the possibilities with online education," and the doors were just continually being shut. And then all of a sudden, everybody had to do it, and it turned into emergency remote teaching. And it was disastrous in a lot of instances, because people hadn't spent any time learning how to do it well.

Til Luchau:

Oh, do I feel for kids and college students, and just having to put in those years on Zoom without that... Again, like you said, keeping the door shut for so long, then all of a sudden, oh yeah, now we're going to just instantly do it, the same thing on Zoom.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. Right.

Til Luchau:

Oh boy.

Whitney Lowe:

The technology, the infrastructure, the money for schools to take the time to really learn how to do this, well it just wasn't there, and we didn't have time to prepare for things. But my hope is that, from this process, we will actually learn that, yeah, we actually explored and learned that there really are some good things and that's not necessarily really all about Zoom. A lot of it isn't.

Til Luchau:

Yeah. It's another tool, another medium, another outlet, another channel we can use to be together, exchange information, and learn. It's just a channel, it's all it is.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. Hopefully, I think some of those changes will be accelerated to some degree and that will encourage us to move towards taking the good and dropping off some of the other things that weren't so good that didn't work so well in that environment.

Til Luchau:

I think so. No, I think so. In fact, in my own thinking about it, the line is blurred between offline and online, so that it's integrated to a level that we don't really realize anymore. That 10 years ago we would've gone, "Whoa, that's really pretty intensively online." And now, we're like, "No, this is just me talking to my buddy on Zoom," or whatever. It just becomes more normalized over time, too. It gets integrated so that we don't even think about that distinction so much.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. Yeah. Very natural. And the things that we've become accustomed to doing and working with technology, the more we become familiar with it, the more it seems like second nature kind of a thing. Because certainly, I mean, even if we go back to a couple of decades, what we were talking about, where we were getting started in the eighties or nineties, if we had a vision or a view into what we would be doing, and how we would be transmitting content and information, and talking to people instantly all over the world at the same time, back then we probably would've been like, "Okay, you're talking about the Jetsons. This is not really real."

Til Luchau:

It was pretty heady. It's normalized now, but it was like, "Whoa. People from Brazil tuning in, that's so cool."

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah.

Til Luchau:

Yeah, exactly.

Whitney Lowe:

I remember the first time that I... Back when I was in psychology graduate school, I was studying the works of this guy who was at, I believe he was at UC Berkeley. And you may know of his name, his name was Charles Tart. And he was doing a lot of work in transpersonal psychology and some of those fields. And I was fascinated by his work. This is probably early nineties when I first got on the internet and there was access. It was all black screens and white type, and all this stuff, to log into a server somewhere. But I learned that people had an email address that you could write to them and they could write back to you over the computer. I came upon Charles Tart's email address somewhere, somehow, and I can't remember how it was. But I was just realizing, "My God, I could ask this guy a question." And he was on a couple of different forums or something like that and responding to people. And it's just like, "This is amazing that these people are accessible and they used to be-

Til Luchau:

They're living, and alive, and interactive, and I can just type in their email address. And they'll even maybe answer me sometimes. Or I can find forums where they're living, and breathing, and working.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. They're engaging in discussions, and I'll listen in and learn things and everything. So yeah, it's been a wild ride for sure.

Til Luchau:

Well now, Charles Tart's on my list of avenues to pursue, because his work, a lot of his work was around, if I remember right, altered states of consciousness.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah.

Til Luchau:

Or the nature of consciousness, say. And I have this theory, Whitney, that a big part of what we do is we're just alters of states of consciousness in our clients and then maybe in ourselves. That experience of getting really good body work could be defined as a state of consciousness shift as much as a connective tissue, or functional shift, or anything else.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. Yeah. Well, that's a fascinating list that we've come up with and some very interesting events, influences, things like that. Anything else you want to finish with there?

Til Luchau:

Like I said, there's so many more, but maybe the one I'll... Do I do the 2008 recession or do I do the trip to Mexico with burros?

Whitney Lowe:

Oh. Oh, yeah.

Til Luchau:

Yeah. Tough choice. The 2008 recession was good for me in terms of it really... It ended my other work, which was as a corporate management consultant. I was working with teams in a lot of tech companies about collaboration and communication, which I really enjoyed. But money for consultants completely dried up.

Whitney Lowe:

I didn't know that you were doing all that stuff back then.

Til Luchau:

Yeah.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah.

Til Luchau:

Yeah.

Whitney Lowe:

Huh, cool.

Til Luchau:

It was really cool. And so, I thought, "Okay, I got a kid." At that time, my kid was... What was he? Nine, eight or nine. I got a mortgage. I got to do something. And this body work thing's pretty cool. It's still going. It was like a sideline, essentially. So, that's about the point I jumped in. And one of the early things we did is we went to Mexico and did a retreat. We found a little hotel in Yelapa that would let us use their roof for a workshop space. And they borrowed massage tables from all of the gringo massage therapists in town, and made some, and rented some, and trucked them all up in a little burro wagon train up to the top of this hill where the hotel was. So, there was burros loaded with massage tables going up to this hotel. And we all carted them up on the roof and set up this thing with tarps. And I was looking out over the ocean, and there were whales going. That was our first retreat.

Whitney Lowe:

Oh, that's cool.

Til Luchau:

Yeah. The Mexi Fascial Retreat, we called it.

Whitney Lowe:

And what year was this?

Til Luchau:

This would've been 80, no 90, no 2000... I have to think. It was a while ago. It was at least 10, 15 years ago. Oh my goodness, that's embarrassing. I can't even remember the year. It was a while ago. But that started a tradition of these transformative retreats too that have been a big part of my life since then, going to amazing events, et cetera.

Whitney Lowe:

Fascinating when we look back at the seeds of where those things come from and what are the processes that got them started there.

Til Luchau:

How about you? Did you get your highlights or do you have a-

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, I think I really got my highlights-

Til Luchau:

... closing note?

Whitney Lowe:

... of those things that have been really most influential for me. I would be remiss if I didn't also at least men mention too, when you were talking about mentoring processes, my relationship with Benny Vaughn has been incredibly influential and important to me as he was the first person that I ever encountered in the education world that started talking about assessment and evaluation as an important factor. And that, of course, started me on a big long process of exploring that in much greater detail. And he has continued to be such a great teacher and influence for me in terms of watching what he's done, and how he's brought massage so, so very far with the work he's accomplished. So, that has certainly been a huge influence on me as well.

Til Luchau:

Yeah.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah.

Til Luchau:

Quite a man.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. So good. These stories have reminded me of some things that I think maybe we should do an episode on the strangest, most bizarre, things that we've encountered in our teaching world and how they've also been a part of this too, because those are some interesting stories there as well.

Til Luchau:

All right.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah.

Til Luchau:

Well, more to come I guess.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah.

Til Luchau:

All right. So, thank you, Whitney. We'll thank our sponsors today. We are supported, The Thinking Practitioner Podcast, is supported by ABMP, Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. ABMP membership gives professional practitioners, like you, a package including individual liability insurance, free continuing education, and quick reference apps, legislative advocacy, and much more.

Whitney Lowe:

And ABMP CE courses, podcast, and Massage & Bodywork Magazine, always feature expert voices and new perspectives in the profession, including both you and I. So, Thinking Practitioner listeners can save on joining ABMP at abmp.com/thinking. So, we would like to say a thank you to all of our sponsors, and also to all of our listeners. We thank you for hanging out with us every couple of weeks and hope you learn some stuff there as well. You can stop by our sites for show notes, transcripts, and extras. You can find that all off of my site at academyofclinicalmassage.com. And Til, where can I find that with you?

Til Luchau:

Advanced-trainings.com. If you have questions or things you'd like to hear us talk about, email us at info@thethinkingpractitioner.com, or just look for us on social media under our names. I am Til Luchau. And who are you, Whitney?

Whitney Lowe:

Today, I will be Whitney Lowe. And you can find me under social media there as well. So, please do make sure, if you have a chance, hop over to Apple Podcasts and give us a rating over there. It does help other people find the show. And you can hear us, of course, on many other podcast platforms, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, or wherever else you happen to listen. And please do share the word and do tell a friend. Of course, as always, if you're unable to find us in any of those locations, you can calibrate your therapeutic ultrasound device to 14 billion kilohertz, and you can hear us over the there.

Til Luchau:

Zap zowey.

Whitney Lowe:

Right.

Til Luchau:

Cool.

Whitney Lowe:

That will, I think, wrap it up for us here. And we will see you on the next go round. And thank you. Great to talk to you here on this topic.

Til Luchau:

Thank you, Whitney. See you later.

Whitney Lowe:

All right. Sounds good.

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