Creative Arts & Wellness
Classes - Seminars - Workshops
Sound Healing - Breathwork - Family Constellations
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the Heart of Healing
the work of Hendrik van der Merwe
Welcome to this window into my work in somatic healing and the creative arts and wellness project that is taking shape in my home in Wilderness, South Africa.
I was brought up on a diet of Jungian thought, fine arts aesthetics, Bach, Beatles and Zen Buddhism by my mother, and humanitarian principles of justice and peace by my father, When I left high school I was intending to be a human rights lawyer. However after a gap of two years doing national service in the navy and another year of travel, I eventually studied psychology and then fine art, while pursuing my passion for sculpture, music, massage, yoga, Buddhism and meditation.
Not content with mainstream scholasticism I left it and went to live on a farm practicing my instruments and art and doing foot massages at a market in the city once a week. I then met and trained with my principle teachers, Patrick Desplace and Rosalyn Bruyère in 1987 and 1988, and continued to study in various somatic healing arts and bodywork modalities with various teachers in the following years.
I started my formal training in Buddhist philosophy and meditation and Hatha Yoga at the age of 21. I later studied with two Zen masters and received transmissions from Namkai Norbu, a Tibetan Dzochen teacher.
My first massage course was Taming the Tiger, with the renowned Buddhist teacher Edie Erwin in 1985.
My life is also strongly influenced by Advaita Vedanta, the teachings of Shri Nisargadatta, A Course in Miracles and Tantric and Taoist practices. I trained as a Sivananda Yoga Teacher, and started teaching yoga in 2001.
My work also includes my passion for sacred sound, dance, poetry and sculpture.
For the last 10 years I have been giving training courses and retreats as part of my calling to share my knowledge and love for humanity with others. I started teaching Thai Massage and Chi Nei Tsang in Mexico in 2014, and subsequently founded the Ananda Healing Center in San Marcos Lake Atitlan in Guatemala where I taught courses in Thai Massage, Chi Nei Tsang, Reiki and Energy Healing. I closed the center in 2018 in order to travel and teach courses and retreats in my home country, South Africa, Europe and India.
I am currently based in South Africa where I am creating a healing and creative arts centre called Anahata in a house i built 15 years ago in Wilderness in the Garden Route.
My work as a somatic therapist is predominantly focused on releasing emotional and mental energy blockages and contractions. These blockages often combine with environmental toxins and bad diet, lack of exercise and bad breathing habits, to form energetic cysts that impair the function of our intestines and organs, leading to all the diseases humans are heir to, both physical and emotional or psychological.
After 35 years of working as a somatic therapist, my main focus is now teaching and offering Taoist abdominal massage - chi nei tsang - which helps to restore the function of the organs and intestines by releasing toxins and toxic chi stored in the abdomen. In private consultations I often guide my clients through the unfolding and release of blocked emotions and help them to reconnect with their vital energy and soul essence.
At times I integrate deep tissue massage, Thai Massage, esoteric healing and Reiki as needed by my clients, and offer emotional and spiritual guidance and counseling as an integral part of the session.
Much of the training I offer is about the techniques, but the essence of my teaching is about learning how to read, feel, see, sense, play and work with the subtle and dense forms of energy that we are made of and exist in. As a therapist this knowledge and skill is invaluable, not only allowing you to do the healing work so desperately needed at this time, but also for you to manage your own energy field before, during and after healing sessions. For all people alive today this essential awareness of the way energy, especially mental and emotional energy moves and affects us, is fundamental to our evolution as individuals and as a society and as a species.
As therapists, this really is the "wellness industry" we are in. Wound and scar healing is important, but also to go beyond healing to wellness. To see and know wellness, not just to be free of the symptoms of dis-ease, but enjoying the naturally ecstatic human condition, the bliss body.
We find and express that space of wellness via many pathways. Yoga and meditation and creativity have always been an integral part of my personal journey. And for me massage, music, dance, sound, play, creativity, ceremonies, prayers, and community living are all in themselves ultimately ways to, and expressions of wellness.
My yoga classes are focused on the harmony of the inner and outer asana and the free-flow of prana/chi, and are influenced by my zen and qi gong practice.
For more on my philosophy of health and healing please have a look at my blog posts on this site.