By: Amanda Sandström Beijer
Photos: Daniel Iglesias
It seems that after the pandemic, many of us have noticed the traumas that have been haunting us. Suddenly, we found ourselves scheduling meetings with a therapist to break free from old patterns, seeking out our personal oracle to help us stay positive, and starting morning meditations to keep our feelings in check. Of course, we had to try out energy healing as well. Goop Lab even made its way to Berlin, and I admit I fell for the temptation.
I first heard about Arturo Rodarte through a friend. She had tried his energy massage and said she had started crying out loud during their session, and the release that occurred afterward was so freeing. She felt like a new person afterward.
Who are you, and what is it that you do?
Three years ago, I moved to Berlin with the dream of living in this city and sharing the healing techniques I learned in Mexico, where I was born and raised. I'm a medical doctor and a paramedic, and my main area of interest is alternative medicine. I practice a specific kind of body therapy in the form of massage that focuses on the exploration of the emotional self, attempting to link the emotional realm of the body with the physical one, understanding how health correlates with emotions.
I'm also fascinated by indigenous Mesoamerican healing practices, specifically the temazcal, a re-birth and cleansing ceremony practiced inside a ritual sweat lodge that represents Mother Earth's womb. I have studied this with traditional healers in Mexico and have a temazcal here in Berlin that I love sharing with my friends.
How did your interest in healing start, and how did it become your profession?
Since an early age, I wanted to become a physician. I had a keen interest in helping others, so I started technical studies as an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) and worked in an ambulance until I entered med school. During my first year of university, I crossed paths with a remarkable healer named Sonia. I was slightly depressed at the time. I was studying in a religious university with very conservative views, had recently come out as a gay man to my family, who were still processing it, and I was not too optimistic about either the present or the future. I was filled with fear, insecurity, and shame.
Through her massage, Sonia quickly changed my emotional state. After a year of working with her and experiencing such a radical change, I asked her if she would teach me, and she agreed. I've been her apprentice for the last eight years.
I believe there's much more to health than the sum of the processes and parts that make up the body.
You work with emotional release - why is that important?
I believe emotions, when not given enough time and compassion to be felt, are stored in ways that, with time, obstruct the natural processes of the body. I believe that the source of many autoimmune and psychiatric diseases can be found in unprocessed emotions accumulated within the body. The process of ignoring emotions is an active one that requires energy; therefore, a constant stream of energy is being used to avoid feeling. We have a limited amount of energy available to us, so when we limit our capacity to feel emotions, we disconnect from experiencing life happening through us. Emotional release means engaging in a vulnerable exercise of recognition, daring to look at what we have consciously or unconsciously kept concealed under the carpet. It means looking at oneself with an honest view and seeing beyond the facade we've grown accustomed to. At some point, this facade became our identity without us even noticing.
How has it helped you?
Being massaged by my teacher over the past eight years, I delved into layers of myself that are not normally within immediate reach. In this process, I realized that there was much about myself that I was ignoring. I observed that the societal rules and paradigms imposed on me during my childhood had a deep impact on me. I was afraid, ashamed, angry, resentful, and deeply worried about the future. I also realized I was very attached to certain ways of looking at myself and life.
Going through this process of recognition allowed me to observe changes in how I related to myself, others, and the process of living. My self-concept changed, as did my reactions to challenging situations. I overcame many fears and outgrew limiting beliefs, becoming a freer and more enjoyable version of myself. I was once afraid of life, of living, of being, of experiencing, and possibly suffering. This held me back, but over the years, I reshaped my relationship with myself and life completely.
What causes traumas to get stuck in the body, and how can one release them?
When emotions are not given enough time and compassion to be felt, they become trapped in the body. Approaching these trapped emotions is a challenging process that requires the courage to be vulnerable and see oneself without the usual filters. One faces discomfort and even pain in the process of recognizing what has been consciously or unconsciously ignored. Daring to look into the pain is what allows it to be released. Having the disposition and flexibility to approach painful, confusing, or scary sensations within the body, to feel and recognize them, is what allows their integration. The way out is through.
"What brought you to Berlin, and what makes you want to live here today?"
The freedom in this city brought me here. The possibility of exploring myself and life in a free, interesting, inspiring environment, surrounded by people from around the world—artists, thinkers, musicians, dancers, scientists, and lovers. The intensity, the fast-paced rhythm, the diversity, the never-ending stream of possibilities to be experienced and learned from, and the constant surprise. Berlin is a beautiful playground, and who wouldn't want to live in such a place?
What's your view on working as a holistic coach in this city?
I've had the opportunity to meet and massage people from all around the world with many different backgrounds. I work with many people from the LGBTQIA+ community, and it's interesting to notice that, regardless of where we grew up, we share similar experiences of rejection and fear. Our bodies are shaped in similar ways due to these shared experiences, and we all carry the same wounds. It's beautiful to witness how we can all heal together.
"Many people speak about drug use and emotional irresponsibility in Berlin, and that the freedom of this city can also consume people. What's your view on this?"
In this city, people are exploring alternative ways of living and relating to each other, which is exciting but can also be confusing since it's something newly created. There are no guidelines or handbooks to follow. When we step away from established patterns of behavior and challenge the status quo, we gain freedom but also face uncertainty, which can be challenging to handle.
Allowing the uncertainty of life to be felt is a liberating process. Our bodies are molded by the violent ways of the modern world within rigid structures of thought and behavior, and we all suffer from it to varying degrees. Most of us are wounded while growing up within the established system of capitalistic, imperialistic, white supremacist patriarchy. We share the suffering and the limitations that arise from these wounds, and if we don't notice and work on them, we continue to hurt each other later in life.
Going on a trip within
I come to Arturo’s studio with a million things in my head, wondering how I’m gonna be able to let go of my to-do-list. After settling a bit in the space, we sit down on two chairs. He asks me how my day has been and how I’m feeling. Arturo is calm and easy-going, there’s nothing pretentious over him. I sometimes feel that energy-healing can be a bit too much ’yoga-self-love-retreat’ for my taste, but so far there’s nothing of that. I’m feeling a bit nervous even though I’m usually a pretty collected person. I wouldn’t want to ’kick and scream’ like my friend did. In my mind I tell myself that’s just not reasonable in my case since my traumas aren’t as vast as hers that derived from wars. Arturo explains that he will push me today, although it is also okay if I, at any time, feel like taking a break or even quitting. He asks me to be open to anything I feel, and to acknowledge whatever comes up as my own, and that I should care for it.” Some people cry, some kick, some scream, some laugh - the reactions can be very different", he explains.
I take my jewellery off, but keep all clothes on, and lay down on my stomach. Arturo asks me to continuously breath in through the nose, and out through the mouth. He asks me to let go of my voice-control and let the noise that needs to come out. He starts by scanning my body, before he begins with the massage. The massage means that he presses points on my body where unresolved emotions are trapped, to release them. We begin and he directly finds where I have tensions and presses, bringing what’s stuck – up and through my body. To be honest I’m not sure how to explain this, but the deeper we go, the more I start feeling that I’m on a hallucinatory experience. I tell Arturo it feels like we’re on a trip together and he replies that we’ve entered an altered state of consciousness.
It is really hard for me to name the emotions that comes up in each moment, either it shifts too quickly, or I simply can’t categorize it. I feel the pain, the tension and I get dizzy from the overwhelm. But I can’t label the feelings that pass through. Arturo notices that I have much tension in my jaw, something that comes from ’holding it together’ he later explains. Without the release of that, things won’t come out of me as easily. The more he works on that, the darker my voice gets in my exhale. It’s a different sound now than when we got started. Along the massage it keeps shifting more into a somewhat darker exhalation. To be frank, it does hurt. This is not the kind of massage you’ll be getting at a spa, or from your partner. The pain even made me laugh at times, and I’m not sure it was because I distanced myself from the hurt of the pressure or the emotions that wanted to get out, or if I laughed because of the feelings that passed through me. What I do know is that I had no awareness of time nor place during the session. I was in space and the world was spinning around me, yet inside of me, which may also have made me laugh.
Besides my jaw, Arturo also works a lot on my hips and my legs, and by the end of the massage I turn around on my back, and he presses places in my stomach. My stomach is sounding as if I’m getting sick and things are moving around. I try to focus on the sensations, and it is uncomfortable. When it’s over and I come back to the room, my hands are freezing cold. I have a sensation of having left the earth, although together with Arturo, as I realize I feel very connected to him. Maybe that’s not very weird after having shared all my trapped emotions, and having him read their tension and making them move, after being stuck in the same place for a long time. I can see on his face that this was intense, also for him.
I try to warm my hands and instead my whole body turns cold, and I start to shiver. Arturo gets me a thick blanket and lets me have a moment to collect myself and my experience. After some minutes I ask him what he could feel, and it’s clear that he doesn’t speculate about what has been trapped, instead we talk about where about the blockages I had were located, and he shared his own experiences from when he found energy massage himself. While I listen to it, I wonder how I will be able to collect myself and walk home. I look at the time and see that the session lasted for around one and a half hours but to me it felt like no more than 30 minutes. As I’m writing this, I still really don’t know what happened or how that would be possible - but I guess you don’t need acid to enter new worlds and lose the grip of time and space.
To tell you the truth, I booked my next session right away, and also one for my partner. It’s so wild, I’d recommend anyone to try it at least once.