Waterflow manual

this is an unfinished rough draft. I haven’t actually done any work on it in a couple of years. Sooner or later I’ll finish it.
It is designed to be used by my students, and also those who have studied Watsu can read it and get some ideas.

copyright 2005 Jay Dancing Bear
all rights reserved

Hoping you get some benefit from this sharing of ideas.



Bodywork in Water for Personal Growth

Creating the space to be


The Waterflow Training

with Jay Dancing Bear

you learn

ü    Fundamentals

ü    Basic positions

ü    A deep understanding of the work

ü    Enough moves to do a wonderful session

ü    How to apply any healing techniques you already know

ü    How to stay clear and grounded

ü    How to give sessions in way which makes you feel great

ü    How to use this work for your personal and spiritual growth and planetary healing

I see this work as meditation in water, which brings self awareness to both giver and receiver, an extremely valuable tool for personal growth.

My goal is to create self sustaining pods of people who have a pool to work in, get together, trade sessions, and then go on land, sit in council, bring in other personal growth processes and build community and health using this work as a tool.

I am looking for groups of 4-12 people who have gotten together, perhaps already know each other or at least have common friends, and have a pool to work in, ideally in someone’s backyard. I will come to you and train you in your own pool. I leave, you practice, I come back when you’re ready and give you the next piece

I am particularly interested in working with pre-existing groups of people devoted to personal and planetary evolution, bodyworkers, Sufi dancers, the tantra community, the HAI community, yogis, tai chi practitioners, and anyone else interested in learning a wonderful modality for growth.

You will learn a set of simple, wonderful movements, which will allow you to give a great session. During the training you will constantly be reminded of basics such as not carrying, use the water, etc, with the goal of learning proper technique in your body, not just your head. We will do land processes, including sitting in council. We will talk about maintaining clear boundaries, the power of the work, how to share it with friends, and many, many other things.

The teaching is set up as a number of one day workshops, the first two of which can be taken two days in a row. Each day contains a lot of water time, guided practice, and land time. After each workshop it is vital that you practice on a number of people before learning new material.  Suggested minimum practice before taking the next workshop is ten hours of practice on at least twenty people

Day one Basic principles
beginnings and endings
a few simple moves in home position

Day two Lots of moves in home position
constant reminders of basic principles
use of noodles

Day three Transitions, looking at the sky position ——————————–

A simple explanation of the work
Listening, guiding
What you need to learn
Support fundamentals
Checklist of fundamentals
Waterflow Fundamentals

a practical manual


Jay Dancing Bear

Grace is the key
to the whole session

Dear Reader,
Most of this manual is a technical manual, but for a moment I’d like to talk about we’re doing, which is channeling and giving unconditional love,
not personally,
but as a vehicle of spirit.

Of course all massage ideally does this, but Waterflow does it in a way which involves a tremendous amount of close, physical contact and a number of psychological triggers. Where else do people get so close, feel so held and supported, almost weightless, flowing through the waters, having experiences they might not have anywhere else.

Physically and technically this work is very easy to do, but ultimately it’s the quality of the heart experience which is what counts.

Good luck, give and receive with grace,


Jay Dancing Bear


Let the water take the weight of the person
Your job is to provide proper support,
while guiding the person through the water,
allowing their body to move freely,
as if you weren’t even there
letting them have the experience,
as if they were dancing on their own,
one with the water and the universe

A simple explanation of the work

Keeping the nose above water is the prime directive

we put the body in different positions,
which easily allows us to work on the different body areas, arms, legs, back, hands, feet, etc.

We alternate between moving motions, which stretch the muscles, and  still positions in which we use massage and other bodywork techniques,  using whatever techniques we may already know.

Even though we do not directly massage it, the spine receives great lessons in flexibility through the many motions in the water.

Every few minutes we allow the receiver stillness, a period during which we just support them without doing anything, allowing them to integrate the work they have just received. Many people say that this is the most powerful part of the session.

That’s Waterflow in a nutshell.


a) Water temperature

b) Physical position

c) Skin contact

There are a lot of psychological triggers in this work. The temperature of the water, which is very close to that of the outside surface of the skin, leads to a loss of the feeling of separateness from the water, since the water is not hotter or colder than the skin. In addition, the water temperature is roughly similar to that of the womb. Then there is the nurturing effect of all the body contact, which tends to calm and comfort. On top of all this, the receiver is being held in a position he/she has probably not been held in since they were a small child, perhaps four or six years of age. This triggers a relaxation response similar to that of a kitten held by the scruff of the neck, which is the way mother cats carry their kittens..

To sum up, this work is very, very powerful and triggers deep responses from the person receiving, even without the giver doing very much at all. How often do people have the chance to experience such a totally nurturing experience?


a)  Surface-deep

b) movement-stillness

c) close-distant

d) fast-slow

e) broad-subtle

f)  side to side, up and down

The work is  a series of contrasts. Sometimes we have the person closer in to our bodies with a lot of skin contact. Other times they are out there on their own with only  a hand on their head. Sometimes we do stretches or massage strokes which are deep or move the body through the water. Other times we do very small, subtle motions, etc.

Listening, Guiding

When we tune in to the subtle muscular movements inside the receivers’ skin, we can feel how their body wants to move. Our task is to work with the natural tendencies of their body while guiding through the series of moves we already know, guiding them through the water, rather than forcing them into a mold.


The way you know that you gave a good session is that you feel like you got a good session.

Breathe, relax. center yourself

You can do this anytime, especially whenever you start feeling flustered, so long as the receiver is well supported.


What you need to learn
to give a good
Waterflow session

1) Comfort with the intimacy

The closeness of the bodies, the amount of skin contact, the degree of vulnerability and surrender, the physical positions, all these almost never occur in American society outside of childhood and sex.

One of my teachers once said that after childhood there are basically two types of touch in America, no touch and sex. Another teacher said that when you float someone you are half parent and half lover, and of course most of the time we are neither.

How to give unconditional love, acceptance and nurturing, without having it be personal, and how to maintain clear boundaries, all this takes some getting used to. All kinds of issues arise. For men very often the most difficult thing is to float another man because of  homophobic fears.  The easiest, simplest way that I know to get some comfort is to just hold a person in basic position in the water and just support them, breathe and feel your feelings. Don’t do anything, just stay there, breathe, feel, be aware of what is going on inside you. That’s it.

2) Body mechanics in the water

Water is a different element, and moving in water is very different from moving on land. The water has resistance. Slow, gradual, graceful movements work with the water. Sudden, jerky, abrupt movements fight the water. It simply comes down to spending a lot of time in the water and getting the learning in your body, not just in your head.

Learning how to let the water take the weight of the person, learning proper stance, etc., these are the elements of mastery.

3) Practice and feedback

Practice, practice and more practice, with constant attention to fundamentals, and feedback each time from each receiver, that is the best, if not the only, way to learn this work. Especially, always ask how the support of the head felt.

Try asking the people you practice on to give you feedback on the neck support throughout the session.  If you do that, let them tell you, don’t disrupt their relaxation by holding up their head and asking them, unless you feel there is a problem they are not telling you

It is essential to receive sessions. You learn very much through receiving.

It is preferable to work on as many different bodies as possible. The first few minutes contain the most learning, since that is when you adjust to each new body, so I recommend doing many short (fifteen minute) sessions, as opposed to just a few long sessions, at least in the beginning.

It all comes down to time spent practicing in the water.
Practice makes perfect, especially when we are learning to move in a different element, water, and we are learning to be comfortable in situations of great physical intimacy, which are so different from what we are used to in our day to day lives.


Support fundamentals
free to move
Supporting the receiver’s body in a way which is anatomically correct, not letting head or back, especially lower back, hyperextend, is the single most important thing to learn, and it’s easy. In basic position receiver’s occiput is in the crook of your arm; your other arm is under their knees, sometimes under their sacrum if they float well.

Learning to fine tune support of the head is the single greatest technical learning in this work.

1)    Head

a)      occiput

b)     crook of elbow

c)     hand up, not on shoulder. This is important’

d)     Fine tune. Pay close attention

e)      Neck type. Does the person have a long thin neck that wants to hyperextend, or a short round neck which wants to roll into the water? Pay close attention.

A simple experiment (experiment 1); Stand next to a friend. Place one hand on their forehead, the other on their occiput (the bony part at the top of the neck). Press on the forehead. Notice how the head doesn’t move. Now shift the hand in back from the occiput to the neck. Again press back. Notice how the head goes backwards. Proper support is not letting the head go backwards

2)  Body

Some people float, some people sink. A rough generalization is that men sink and women float, but it is more that people with muscular legs and low body fat, which includes women runners and bodybuilders, sink, and people with higher levels of body fat float.

It’s very easy to float a floater. Working with sinkers requires a much higher level of technique, a much better grasp of the basic principles of letting the water do the work.

a)Floaters (people who float easily)

Supporting the body is easy with a floater. Usually your arm is under sacrum Often you don’t even need to support their body at all, or else minimally. Most of the time it is easy to get your hand free, allowing you to do a wide range of massage techniques. Transitions are very simple. In short, almost everything is easy with a floater.

b)    Sinkers

1)   under knee

2)   legs deep in water

3)   motion

4)   hydroplane-traction on head (do not overuse)

5)   Air (they buoy up on their inbreath)

Sinkers are more of a challenge because often you have to use both hands to support them.

On the other hand there is a lot more chance to bring them under the surface. There are many degrees of sinkers, and most of them are easy to work with if you have good technique. It is the rare person who is truly a stone.

The support is usually under the knees, not often under sacrum, as one must be careful not to let the weight of their legs pull down on their lower backs.

Letting the legs go deep in the water allows the water to take their weight.

The deeper the body goes in the water the more the water takes the weight.

Keeping a constant, gentle motion, perhaps a slight rocking, keeps the body from sinking. It is when the body is perfectly still that it will sink the most

When a gentle traction is exerted on the head, a steady motion, not a sharp jerk, the feet tend to hydroplane up in the water.

People buoy up on their inbreath. When you tune into their breath, you can use this principle to time your motions.

When you can easily work with sinkers, then you can feel you have a good grasp of the basic skills.

c)     The Thigh Prop

This is a most useful technique which I recommend making a basic part of your learning

Legs are usually stronger than arms. The top of the thigh has a broad, comfortable surface. If you have good balance, you can stand on one leg (this is easier in the water) and use your other thigh to support under the person’s hips or buttocks, freeing your hand.

d)    flexible-inflexible

Some people are very flexible, even sinkers. Other people are inflexible, even floaters. With inflexible people it is important not to force them into moves, and there are certain tricks of the trade, best shown in person, which can be utilized to get them to bend and fold up.

e)     Noodles

A great tool to use with sinkers. Noodles, which are usually placed under the knee, free your hands and allow many motions with sinkers which would not otherwise be possible, yet they can be put in and taken out very easily as desired.

The way to place the float is to sink it down in the water and then let it come up under the receiver’s knees.

f) Floats

There are pros and cons to the use of floats.
I personally do not like the use of floats, and use them only when necessary, at which times i am grateful for them.

The time to use them is with people with lower back trouble. The floats, placed just above the knee, protect the lower back in a most excellent manner, but really only necessary perhaps every eighth man, almost never with women.

1) The whole session is spent on the surface of the water, losing the psychological benefits of being in the water. Also, it can be cold in the air, particularly for women, having their breasts in the air, especially if the rest of their body is in the warm water.

2) Floats disrupt the body’s natural movements in water, not allowing the person to experience themselves as fully.

3) Floats are like training wheels on a bicycle. Practitioners who have learned to use floats as a basic part of their session rarely develop the deep mastery of technique which they would otherwise be forced to learn

4) Get in the way. Difficult to get practitioner’s arm under knees.

For the rare times you need them they are a great tool to have, but just like any crutch it is too easy to become dependent on them and never develop skill.

Fundamental Body mechanics
in the water

Stay low in the water
become one with the water
The lower you are, the less tendency to carry the person.

The lower you are the more you become part of the water, rather than hovering over the person, which tends to make it more difficult for you to move smoothly.

Keeping your own chin in or just above the water is a good rule of thumb for beginners.

Allow yourself to blend in with the water, to become part of the water, to become one with the water.

Let the water take the weight of the person

The deeper the legs go in the
water, the more the water takes their weight
easier for you
feels better to them.

Do not carry the person.
Let their ears go in the water. Their face, especially their nose, which is the most important part, is above water. The knees should be as deep in the water as they want to go.  If the knees are above the water you are probably holding them up, creating strain for yourself and not allowing the receiver the feeling of weightlessness which is such a wonderful part of the work

.An experiment (experiment 2); your arm under knees, drop your arm a little bit and see if the legs sink even deeper into the water. If they sink that means you were holding them up. The deeper the legs go the more the water takes their weight.

You will often hold people at an angle with the head at the surface and the legs as far under the water as your arms can reach. That is fine,
so long as the weight of the legs is not allowed to pull down on the lower back and the neck is not allowed to hyperextend backwards.
When you see this in person it is much simpler than it sounds on paper.

You move=they move

It is a basic law of physics that when two bodies are joined they act as one body. Motion in one =motion in both. The way to create motion in the receiver’s body is to move your body.

Try this experiment (experiment 3). In home position, move your own hips side to side. Notice how the receiver’s body moves. Now move your hips forward and back, or  in a circle. Notice what happens.

Start and end motions gradually

a) momentum

b) water resistance

c) gradual acceleration and deceleration

Water is a different element, and moving in water is very different from moving on land. The water has resistance. Slow, gradual, graceful movements work with the water. Sudden, jerky, abrupt movements fight the water. It simply comes down to spending a lot of time in the water and getting the learning in your body, not just in your head.

At the beginning of a motion there is an initial resistance. At the end there is momentum. Gradual acceleration and gradual deceleration create comfortable, healing movements.
1    Stance

A wide stance, with feet farther apart than shoulders, works best. Try this experiment. Stand with feet close together and turn from side to side. Now take a wide stance and again turn from side to side. Which way gives you a wider, more fluid range of motion.

2     Motion and power from hips
Arms transmit and extend motions
Body acts as a whole

Just as in tai chi, we start our motions from our center. Our power is in our hips and lower body. The arms serve to transmit and extend the motions, but rarely act by themselves. The body moves smoothly as a unit

Checklist of fundamentals

1) Support-fine tune head support, secure/free

2) Let their legs and body down into the water=let them become one with the water

3) You stay low in the water-let yourself become one with the water

4) Stance-feet wide

5) motion from hips

6) You move=they move

7) Breathe-Center.

You can always do this whenever you start feeling flustered, so long as the receiver is well supported.

8) Stillness/integration-are you allowing enough?

9) How do you feel?

Beginning and ending the session
Sequence of learning
1       Learn basic principles, beginning, ending, home position, the first few minutes

2       Learn additional moves in home position, the near leg rotation, how to use noodles

3       Learn transitions, looking at the sky position
A)    Beginning the session
1) Ask the person if there is anything about their body you need to know, injuries, disc problems, that kind of thing.

2) Tell them that:

if anything is uncomfortable
at any time
for any reason
to let you know right away.

Mean it when you say this, it saves you having to guess what’s going on in their head, perhaps your telepathic abilities are taking a day off.

3) Tell them that the session is over when they feel the wall at their back. At that time they are to just enjoy the space as long as they want, and you will be available afterwards to talk if they wish. This is important because sometimes after a session people feel like they should open their eyes and say thank you. It’s better for them to stay in the space as long as they wish.

4)Tell them their job as a receiver is to be like a wet noodle, to just receive and not help or have to do anything. Thanks to Elaine Marie for this phrase.

5) Invoke higher power. What I say is “if you have any powers or deities in which you believe, please call on them now for whatever you wish to call for and I’ll do the same, and we’ll take a moment of silence to do that”.

6) Now you are ready to begin. Gently move to their side, put the crook of your arm against their occiput, gently put their arm around your waist, and ask them to “take a deep breath and allow yourself to fall backwards in the water”. The deep breath floats them up.

7) Get ready to get your other arm under their knees as they get down in the water, or you can use your thigh under their sacrum or buttocks, which provides a firm, comfortable support. Also your thigh is generally stronger than your arms, a more efficient use of your body strength.

8) As they fall backwards you can also gently tug their head, which causes the feet to hydroplane up. This is very simple when you see and feel it done live, rather than on paper.

9) You are now ready to do the very first move, which is to stay still and just breathe, letting the receiver get used to you and you get used to the receiver.

10) From the still position allow movements to flow themselves, rather than adhering to a set plan of I’ll do this and then I’ll do that. Let it flow.

B)    The first few minutes

The first minutes of a session are the time when the person in your arms gets used to you and you get used to them. After all, how often do people find themselves in this degree of physical intimacy. Perhaps the receiver and you do not even know each other well. In addition there ate the technical issues of getting used to the persons’ weight and buoyancy.

In short, less is more, especially in the beginning. Hang out, breathe, center, relax, give the receiver a chance to relax.

C)    Ending the session

Patience and
A clear separation of energies

A good, smooth ending, done with patience, which allows the receiver to gently come back to the world of gravity, is a most key element of the session. You have taken a lot of time and attention in the session, so take as much time as necessary for the ending. People can sometimes be very far out there.

Another issue is to clearly separate your energies once the session is over, as there is a tendency for some enmeshment to have taken place.

a)    Ending with floaters

1)      support under sacrum

2)      walk towards wall

3)      extend your own foot to make contact with the wall. This lets you know how close you are

4)      Gently but firmly guide the receiver down and against the wall by putting your hand on their belly and pushing their buttocks against the wall.

5)      Their buttocks touch first. Avoid head hitting wall.

6)      Move your hand to their heart and gently push them against the wall. Try and get them upright, but don’t force it.Allow head to lean against you if that’s what’s happening. It is possible you may be here for several minutes

7)      Gradually traction head, release hand from heart, take their head in your hands, and gradually set their head against the wall.

8)      There are a number of different ways to let go. One is to put your one hand on the crown chakra (top of head), the other on their heart. Balance the energies, perhaps do a complete chakra clearing, keeping the hand on the crown and touching on the side of the body alongside each chakra. Gradually release, and as you walk away visualize two circles of different colors separating.

b) Ending with sinkers

For the most part things are the same, except

1)        Support under knees

2)        Guide the body against the wall using pressure from the hand under the knees.

3)        Gradually release one leg at a time.

Home Position

1) Find the breath

1)   First movements

2)   Gradually expand motions

3)   Listen, allow freedom and creativity

4)   Under knee, sacrum, thigh prop, noodle

Refer back to beginning the session. So, the person is in your arms, you’ve taken some time to adjust. What now?

Tune in. Feel if their body wants to start moving. Exaggerate these movements a bit, moving from your hips, perhaps taking a step or two. Gradually begin to move them through the water. Be fluid, creative. Allow the movements to create themselves.

There are a number of already choreographed moves, but they are best shown in person. Some support under sacrum, some under knee, some use the thigh prop or even a noodle in case of a sinker.


1) Transitions of motion
2) Transitions of stillness
3)  Protect the head and neck=cushioned head transfer 4)  Direct their body motions
5)  Smoothness

Again, floater or sinker makes all the difference. Again, floaters are easy, sinkers require technique.

The cushioned head transfer is where you use one hand to gently transfer the head into the other hand. This is easy when seen in person, complicated on paper.

A transition of motion is when you get the person moving through the water, usually tractioning their head so that the feet hydroplane up. The more they sink, the faster you need to move them.

A transition of stillness is when you gradually move the person around, often transferring them from one side to your shoulder, then to the other side, moving very slowly, not really letting go out in the water as in a transition of motion.

Very often the thigh prop is used instead of hand or arm under the body. A sense of timing of how long a person takes to sink in the water once they’ve been buoyed up is acquired through experience.

Transitions are best learned in person.

Looking at the sky position

1)       Hands on hips

2)       Noodle if sinker

3)       Belly sandwich

4)       Heart sandwich

5)       Massage alongside spine

Looking at the sky position is where the person has their head on your shoulder, facing up. Usually your hands are alongside their hips. With sinkers one usually uses a noodle. Belly sandwich, heart sandwich and massage along spine are various moves one does in this position, which is a very effective position for giving a sense of freedom and aliveness.


Assisting each other to learn
You and your fellow students can assist each other by watching and constantly reminding the person practicing of the fundamentals, stay low, etc..

Ears and dehydration

Ear problems must be guarded against for everyone who spends much time in the water. Use ear drops, peroxide, or whatever you prefer both before and after the water.

From time to time one will encounter people who cannot tolerate water in their ears. Always bring with you a set of ear plugs, the shapeable silicone ones seem to work well.

Dehydration can be a problem. If you are going to be spending a lot of time in the water what works well is to drink until you burst first thing in the morning. Ideally this is a while before you get in the pool so you don’t have to pee all the time. Tell the people you are working with to do the same. If one does not properly hydrate headaches and tiredness can result.

Pool specifications

1)   Temperature

96-97 degrees optimum. 94-98 acceptable. In hot weather  94 feels good, as the weather gets colder 98 feels good.

2)   Depth

With feet wide apart the water should be about the level of  your heart. Depending on how tall you are this can mean anywhere from 3-5 ½ feet, but typically 3 ½-4 is about right for most people.

3)   Purification system

Ozone is best, chlorine is worst. Non toxic is the key. Harsh chemicals are poisonous.

4)   Size

Bigger is better. Twelve foot diameter minimum,

Can you work in a hot tub? Yes and no. You can do a really good hot tub massage with some elements of Waterflow, but you really can’t do a lot of the movements which require space.


Boundaries and clarity

This is very powerful, very delicate work. There is an enormous amount of trust and vulnerability created, and the work tends to make people feel very bonded after the session. However, experience has shown that this feeling tends to fade after a short while. The better you are at it, the more people feel nurtured, the more loving your session, the more there is a chance that people will be vulnerable to any misuse of that trust on your part.

In very simple terms, if you wouldn’t give someone a drug to get them to sleep with you, don’t use a Waterflow session to seduce them. A basic rule of thumb has been that if you haven’t already slept together, wait a day or two after the session

If you are a member of a community which has different values towards sexuality, such as the HAI community, the gay community, or others, then you might want to talk beforehand about the power of the work and come to agreements about what would feel proper.

Situations can get especially confusing if, for example, you are working with someone with whom the two of you are clearly attracted, and seem to be heading towards a sexual relationship anyway. Talk beforehand, get clarity.

As self-responsible adults we make our own decisions, and people have a right to the pertinent information, which is that this work is powerful. Err on the side of caution.

Bathing Suit or Naked

If you are doing a professional bodywork session, certainly you will wear a bathing suit.

If however, you are exchanging sessions with  friends, and the goal is maximum personal growth and healing, then you might want to consider the following:

After living in a clothing optional community on and off from 1992-96, I have  developed a strong belief in the healing value of nudity. I found that when people dropped their clothes, very often they dropped their bullshit and their masks. I found people able to speak their truths more honestly and openly, and more able to connect with other people.

I believe that the greatest resource for anyone doing healing work, especially this work, is their own clarity and state of personal growth. I think nudity brings people face to face with issues such as body image, intimacy and other fears, so I really prefer the trainings to be clothing optional.

Without judgment, the question is, if you do not wish to remove your suit, what is it you are afraid of or uncomfortable with? The answer to this question tells you what it is you need to work with.

On the other hand, I recognize that people are where they are with their personal growth, that sometimes it is more growthful to keep a suit on and set a clear boundary, and that it is counter-productive to push people to drop their clothes if they’re not ready.

In my private practice giving sessions I do not even mention the possibility of nudity unless the person asks me. I just assume we are wearing suits.

My own story
Jay Dancing Bear

I went to live at Harbin Hot Springs, the place where watsu was developed, in March 1992. For the first few months I was in the pools I saw watsu being done and it meant absolutely nothing to me.

At that time it was my practice to do my morning meditation on the steps at the deep end of the warm pool. One day I opened my eyes and there was a watsu class starting right in front of me. I felt like a big hook reached out and grabbed me. I sat on the steps watching the class, in fact energetically I was right there in the center of the class.

Later in the day I found someone to practice on. The next day I was back on the steps again, watching. Later that day more practice. By the third day, which was a Wednesday, the people in the class were starting to look at me a bit sharply, and also things had gotten a little advanced for me to follow, so I was not there on Thursday, but I still practiced.

At that time Elaine Marie was offering drop in classes on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

I went to those every week and of course practiced a lot. I used to do long sessions which consisted of a few moves done very slowly, over and over again, from both sides. After having thirty or fourty people tell me they thought I was professional, I finally got that this was something I should do, so in August of 1992 I took the full two week training with Harold and Minakshi, and received professional certification in early September. After the training I still lived at Harbin and of course did a lot of sessions before leaving for the winter

My main teachers have been Harold, Elaine Marie, Minakshi, and Lee Firewalker, who gave me a number of useful tips. I didn’t feel really competent until Lee said I was at least good enough to do sessions.

The next year, 1993, I was back at Harbin. At this time I began assisting Elaine Marie with the morning drop-in classes, and with the watsu portions of her massage classes. I was also the junior assistant on the training she did for the staff from Ten Thousand Waves (spa) in New Mexico. Of course I also did a lot of practice sessions in the warm pool, to the point where my nickname at that time was Watsu Jay. I stayed at Harbin until the middle of November, when I again left for the winter.

In 1994 and 1995 I lived at Harbin about 3-4 months each year. I again did a lot of sessions while there, and while living in Santa Cruz in 1995 I had use of the Aptos pool.

In 1996 I felt a strong psychic call to assist the WABA classes, which was the official Watsu training, so I spoke to Harold (Dull, the creator of Watsu). I assisted every class between April and October, about seven weeks worth. After each class students were asked to evaluate the staff, and the reviews I received were filled with great praise. Of course by this time I had already been teaching (guitar) for sixteen years, and to a large extent teaching is teaching, regardless of the subject.

Unfortunately, at that time there was a lot of politics in the organization. Even though I had been doing the work for four years, had done hundreds of sessions, had already assisted Elaine Marie, and had been a teacher (guitar) for 16 years, even with all that, people who had just taken a class a few months previously, were promoted ahead of me by the woman in charge of assistants. However, I stuck with it and by the end of the year had worked things out with her to the point of mutual trust and respect.

The next year, 1997, there was a new person in charge of assistants. This person asked me to send a resume, which I did, and kept me waiting and calling for a month before giving me the OK to assist. Previous to this the procedure had been to call, ask and get automatic yes to assist. I was not happy.

When I finally got to the class, after having assisted the whole previous year, someone assisting for the first or second time was made senior assistant while I was made junior assistant. After three days of intense emotional distress, I decided to resign from the organization.

I told Minakshi, the official representative of the organization, that I thought I could teach quite well, that I intended to teach, and that there were a number of improvements in the course method and curriculum which I intended to incorporate in my own teaching.

Minakshi asked me to please call my teaching by a name other than watsu, if what I was teaching was different, even if it was just different pace, sequence and emphasis. I said I’d think about it.

That night, as I was lying down to go to sleep, the name Waterflow popped into my head. I felt good. The next morning the first word I said to Minakshi was Waterflow. She was pleased with the name change. Later I spoke to Harold, with whom I had never had any problems. He gave me his blessing and asked me to make sure to keep the stillness in the work. Harold, it’s the center of my work.

Even though I felt badly treated by the organization, in reality leaving it was a blessing, because now I felt free to manifest my own vision of how I felt the work should be taught, rather than having to conform to a teaching protocol which I felt did not serve the students. So, there you have it, my Waterflow story.

Jay Dancing Bear

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