ELKTON — Eric Sumwalt is a Maryland registered massage practitioner, so it’s not surprising that a conventional body massage is one of the services that he offers at his iON Massage & Spa in Havre de Grace.
While a common massage relaxes and reinvigorates a person’s body, another type of massage that Sumwalt offers — CranioSacral therapy — addresses a client’s mind and emotions, too, with the overall goal of reducing physical and mental stress.
In order words, when Sumwalt is giving CranioSacral therapy, he is in tune with how the client’s body reacts as he works on that person — oftentimes while they are engaged in conversation.
Sumwalt then connects the client’s physiological response to certain segments of the massage to that person’s mind, such as buried memories that have manifested themselves negatively in that person’s body.
“It is about connective tissue and how it pulls through the body. There is an emotional component to it — emotional energy — and dialogue is part of the process. As we talk, I feel how the body shifts. Based on that, when I ask (the client) a question, I know the answer before they say it and I know when they’re not telling the truth,” Sumwalt said, before explaining, “What stress is is us not honoring our emotions.”
Sumwalt was one of more than 80 vendors who participated in the 10th annual Mind, Body & Spirit festival held at Cecil College’s Elkton Station building on Railroad Avenue for three hours on Friday night, nine hours on Saturday and six hours on Sunday. It marks the first time that the festival also ran on a Sunday.
The vendors at the festival specialize in aura photography, card readings, crystal energy, essential oils, health and nutrition, massage, meditation, reflexology, reiki, spiritual counseling, holistic medicine and other practices aimed at making people healthier mentally, physically and spiritually.
Vendors occupied the lobbies, hallways and rooms of various sizes on all three floors of the building that serves as Cecil College’s satellite campus. They offered sessions and workshops and sold various products relating to their fields of practice.
As of mid-afternoon on Saturday, with approximately a total of nine hours remaining for the free weekend event, more than 400 guests had attended the Mind, Body & Spirit Festival, according to volunteers at the information desk near the entrance.
Regarding the service that Sumwalt provides to help make people healthier physically, mentally and spiritually, he has witnessed clients experience breakthroughs during CranioSacral therapy sessions, he told the Cecil Whig.
Sumwalt, for example, said he remembers a woman who recalled a traumatic experience from her early childhood during a CranioSacral therapy session, bringing that bad memory into the open, where it could be dealt with constructively.
“She went back to the age of 4. She was in a closet, holding stuffed animals against her ears because her parents were arguing. Her body needed to release it,” Sumwalt explained, noting that mental health counseling that the woman had been receiving during that time period played a role in the breakthrough.
Sumwalt has been a state licensed massage practitioner for 30 years and, as such, he has been offering CranioSacral therapy for the past 16 years.