Students practicing Breema bodywork.

The Influence of Breema in My Professional Practice

Jul 29, 2022

by Susan Mankowski

For several decades, I have worked with the body using a number of somatic-based modalities. Looking back, two unique experiences were pivotal in helping me clarify the meaning, purpose, and direction of my practice.

At the beginning of my profession I provided massage and bodywork sessions, privately and in clinics, which helped clients relieve stress, tension, and heal from injuries. Once I was giving a combination of deep tissue, stretching, and shiatsu to a client who needed to relax. After working a full hour with my hands, fists, forearms, and elbows to unwind the tight muscles extending from her neck to her lower back, I got up on the table to walk down the spine and legs with my knees and arms. I remember clearly the moment when I was applying maximum pressure into her and heard her voice ask if I could give more weight.

I was surprised and shocked, imagining that I was removing all the excess tension in the body, to hear it was not enough. Shortly after, the 2-hour session came to a close. I was tired from working so hard, and left, disappointed at that time that I could not satisfy her request.

Some years later, I was giving a Breema session to a patient at an Integrative Health Clinic. Breema is a floor-based bodywork, which uses the natural weight of the body with no force, however, firmly and gently. This approach expresses Nine Principles of Harmony through its form, which the practitioner directly relates to within her own body during a session. The principle of No Judgment creates a relationship between the practitioner and the client of acceptance of the state of the body, mind, and feelings without trying to fix or change them. This allows for inner resistance and dis-ease to recede into the background, and the innate wisdom of the body, its natural vitality, and its capacity to balance to emerge.

After this session, my new patient opened her eyes and told me she felt more deeply connected to her body. This unsolicited feedback was profound and life-changing for me in my practice. It had been a long journey from the request for more weight to be externally applied to this experience of supporting another to connect to themselves through their body. I did not need to push, pull, or force anything, but by simply connecting to my body and fully participating with the principles and form of Breema, I experienced the mutual support of being myself, alive and well, and so did my client. I clearly knew at that moment that this was my deepest wish both for myself and for all whom I touch.

I continue to use Breema as my primary practice to this day, both in the bodywork form and in the underlying support of the principles, to all activities of life, including massage therapy!


Susan Mankowski LMT is a Staff Instructor at the Breema Center in Oakland, California with an offsite base also in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Join her in our weekly online free Self-Breema classes or contact her for support in your area.


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