Archive for July, 2011

July 27, 2011

Big News! All Future Wellspring School Amma Programs will be Offered in Portland!

For those of you who missed the announcement in last week’s newsletter, we thought we’d re-print the Director’s Letter for you. Lots of activity and changes at The Wellspring School! We want to make sure everyone is up to speed on what’s happening, because if you’ve been waiting to take a class or attend a clinic that is part of the Amma Program in Boise, now is most definitely the time!

This summer has been a whirlwind of activity for us at The Wellspring School in both Portland and Boise. Our Amma Therapy clinic is underway in both locations. In June we hosted all WSHA Amma students in Boise for a three-day intensive with Rylen (picture), and we have another one planned for August.  We held an evening event for the Wholistic Nutrition Program (WNP) students, past and present, featuring a lively panel discussion led by alum practitioners, Anne Woodhouse, Kim Rene, and Alisha Smith, in addition to Rylen and Rachael.  We are excited to welcome two new WNP instructors to Boise in the next couple of months. Jessie Hensley and Bari Mandelbaum will be teaching Daily Dose I (August) and Eat to Live I (September) class weekends respectively. Yes, we are busy!

Rylen and Rachael also met in Portland for a planning session to talk specifically about, “What’s Next for The Wellspring School?” We have been working diligently with the Oregon Department of Education to formally establish our school presence and program offerings in the state. We are hopefully approaching the home stretch in that process and once completed we will be publishing our 2012-2014 Portland programs and classes calendar. In conjunction with this process, we also still plan to launch the first Wholistic Nutrition Program in Portland this fall, pending final approval of the Oregon Department of Education.

With all of this underway comes a very big decision for us regarding the Amma Bodywork Therapy Program. Since its inception in 1995, The Wellspring School has matriculated over 100 students into the Amma Bodywork Therapy program in Boise. Very exciting! It is our goal to continue to fine tune this program as a whole as well as evolve components to provide a robust set of CEU/PDA offerings for existing practitioners and public attendees. To make this happen we have evaluated teaching resources, student interest, public demand and opportunities for positive growth. The end result is that we’ve decided not to offer the Amma program again in Boise. Instead we will focus our energies on the future development of this program in Portland specifically.

We hope to bring class sizes back up to the double digits as well as take advantage of the broad set of holistic healthcare practitioners available within the larger Portland metro area. We’d also like for Rylen to spend less time on the road and more time in the classroom. That means that the current Amma Program Group13 is the last group that will graduate from The Wellspring School in Boise! Go, Lucky 13! Make sure to take advantage of Amma student clinic through December, as it will be the last one in Boise! 

We are still going strong with our Wholistic Nutrition Program in Boise, and as mentioned we plan to kick off the next one in Portland this fall. The current Boise WNP group will be hosting a great public event followed by clinic next spring, so stay tuned on that. As always, WNP classes are open to other attendees, space permitting. If there’s a class you’ve been wanting to take that’s part of the Amma Program, especially one taught by Rylen, now’s the time to sign up. Check our upcoming classes page for dates/instructors for Additional Techniques – Asian, Daily Dose, Eat to Live I & II, etc.

All alumni can take classes as a repeat for 50% off! We hope that our Boise Alumni will take advantage of the proximity to Portland and join us for some dynamic upcoming workshops or if there’s a class you wish to take again.  In October, current WSHA Amma Students from both locations will be meeting in Portland for an evening of Taoist Thought and a weekend of Chen Tai Chi with Bill Helm. We are really grateful for the opportunity to have brought Amma Bodywork Therapy to so many people in the Boise community to date. We hope that all of you that have been coming to The Wellspring School as clinic clients, students and teachers will continue to enjoy and promote the benefits of this incredible modality in Boise and beyond!

-Rachael & Rylen

July 13, 2011

Book Review – Savor – Mindful Eating, Mindful Life

Catching up on your reading this summer? Check out the first of (hopefully) an ongoing series of book reviews by Wellspring School staff, students and alum! 

Title: Savor – Mindful Eating, Mindful Life, © 2011
Authors: Thich Nhat Hanh & Dr.Lilian Cheung
HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd street New York, NY 10022
ISBN: 978-0-06-169770-8 $15.99 paperback

What does a Vietnamese Buddhist Zen Master, poet, scholar and peace activist have in common with the director of health promotion and communication at the Harvard School of Public Health? A book! On a recent trip, passing through an airport bookstore, my eye was instantly drawn to one book cover in particular. The bright intensity of a section of an orange topped with a simple word, “savor,” in an equally brilliant orange color piqued my curiosity. I read a little about the unique partnership between the two authors and their approach to nutrition and I had to find out more.

Part I of the book is entitled “A Buddhist Perspective on Weight Control.” I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of eating plan a Zen Master would recommend other than the basic temple foods I’d sampled while living in Asia. Diving into the first chapter was something like an “Aha!” moment because of its simplicity. The entire premise of the first chapter and book as a whole is so incredibly simple yet powerful. The key to weight control and life in general isn’t about a diet.  The key is in the concept of “mindfulness.” Being present, cultivating constant awareness of self and surroundings, are the constants that promote healthier living as a whole. The book spends a lot of time discussing the tools to do this via meditation, breathing and stronger connection to daily life practices. According to the authors there is indeed so much more to weight loss and health than just diet!

I very much appreciated the opportunity to be reminded that outside of the noises and distractions in today’s hectic society, the practice of “mindfulness” is an option that we can all choose in the pursuit of healthier living. Being aware of one’s own body, of what we put into our bodies and how we propel ourselves through daily life is an incredibly powerful tool. Having this perspective as an individual raises our awareness at a global level, which to the author seems a most important message to convey.

“Mindfulness also helps us look beyond packaging to see how we grow and where we get our food so that we can eat in a way that preserves our collective well-being and the well-being of our planet…We have to know what we are eating, where our food is from, and how it affects us.” (p.48)

With this straightforward and powerful philosophy as the book’s primary theme, I confess I was less interested in some of the nutritional specifics provided. Frankly, I found much of the nutritional advice to be at a pretty basic level and the “science” behind many of the statements somewhat limited, as well as not necessarily in alignment with my own practice philosophy. The book progresses through chapters on Mindful Eating, Mindful Moving, A Mindful Living Plan and culminates with thoughts on living in a Mindful World. The very last section brings everything to an appropriate close with the simple statement of “Savor Every Moment.”

While not necessarily the next required program text for a school or a standard nutritional reference manual for the practitioner’s office, it still has merit as a quick read if only for the aforementioned conscious living reminders. Cultivating mindfulness and awareness first and foremost in our diets is beneficial to clients, students, practitioners and individuals in general who value the concept that healthy living is more than just a weight loss plan. If anything, envision the brilliance of that orange segment, take a deep breath and just “savor” the moment wherever you are.

To purchase a copy of this book visit the website, or purchase from

Reviewer: Rachael Myles, CHN, ABT

July 1, 2011


“Below the email notification the AOBTA today sent to its members regarding the uncertain future of the NCCAOM ABT Examination. The Wellspring School feels this is a huge step backwards for the field of Asian Bodywork. To lose this exam relegates Asian Bodywork Therapists back under the scope of practice of Licensed Massage Therapists.  While the latter designation may be considered appropriate for entry-level therapists, it definitely limits senior practitioners in this field. We recognize the challenge of the exam as it stands now for many new graduates in terms of the expense required to take it. It would be ideal if we could find a way to re-designate the exam at a lower cost for advanced standing in the field and position it as a high standard of achievement and differentiator for senior therapists. It is really important that AOBTA members take a moment to read the below and provide input to both the NCCAOM and the AOBTA. Note, the NCCAOM will continue to offer support and re-certification to those who are already Dipl. ABT’s.”  – The Wellspring School

Dear AOBTA® Members, On behalf of the AOBTA® Board of Directors, I am seeking members’ input regarding the NCCAOM ABT Certification Exam. At our convention in April, NCCAOM officials informed our Board that due to low numbers of applications for the exam, it may be discontinued. In a letter to the AOBTA® Board, dated May 20, 2011, Dr. Kory Ward-Cook, CEO, NCCAOM, confirmed in writing that, “…in order for us to meet essential psychometric standards there must be many more candidates taking the exam for the NCCAOM ABT Certification than has been the case in recent years.” In her letter, Dr. Ward-Cook goes on to say, “…the NCCAOM, as per its governance policy on retiring a certification program, is now in the process of gathering stakeholder input about possible issues that may arise as a result of retiring the ABT certification.” She further states that, “During the coming six to nine months the NCCAOM expects to continue to gather input from all stakeholders, not just the AOBTA. We will be taking into account existing state regulations about licensing when making the final decision as to the retirement of the (NCCAOM) ABT certification program.”

In a letter of response to the NCCAOM, the AOBTA® Board stated the following position, “We do wish to confirm that the AOBTA® board firmly believes that an ABT certification program is a valuable cornerstone of our profession, as evidenced by our constant and consistent support of the credential since its inception. AOBTA® members have made a significant financial investment in the certification credential and the AOBTA® as an organization has invested significant financial and other resources in promoting it. The AOBTA® has also been the primary advocate for the ABT certification program in the state regulatory arena. It is our hope that the ABT certification can continue as a viable and valuable credential to current Dipl. ABTs and to those who are yet to enter the ABT certification pathway.” The AOBTA® Board wishes to inform members of this impending development and requests your input as to how the retirement of the NCCAOM ABT Exam would affect you and your practice, and any other ramifications that you perceive.

In her letter, Dr. Ward-Cook specifically suggested, “We encourage the AOBTA Board of Commissioners [sic] and its AOBTA members to continue to provide the NCCAOM with input regarding this very important and difficult decision. Please direct any input your organization wishes to send to my attention at or send a letter to Dr. Kory Ward-Cook, CEO, NCCAOM, 116 South Laura Street, Jacksonville, FL 32202.”

On behalf of the AOBTA® Board, we encourage you to share your comments and concerns on this matter. Please write or email Dr. Ward-Cook and send a copy to AOBTA® at This will help us to continue to clarify our position and our focus as an organization on how we can best strengthen and support our professional certification. Your input is greatly appreciated, and could have a profound and direct impact on the outcome of this matter. Thank you for your participation. – Matthew Sweigart AOBTA® Director of Education.

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