At Peace Media Interview
Question and Answer Session with John Gelb, Founder and CEO of At Peace Media.
What is At Peace Media?
At Peace Media began as a company that produced and distributed massage therapy instructional video programming. Our first program, Esalen Massage, was created under a license from the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California and we released it in May of l997. The mission of At Peace is to create products that help people. No matter what the product is, we want people who use our products to really derive tangible benefits from each and every product that they buy from us -we are a service, not a lifestyle company. We know we're helping people because we are constantly receiving letters and calls from people telling us that our videos, our music and our body care products are improving their lives and the lives of their loved ones.
Why did you chose Esalen massage for your first instructional video?
The main reason we made the Esalen massage video was that we had experienced the massage work done at Esalen, and we thought - This is the greatest massage in the world. And it's not surprising, really. For over 35 years it likely that no other place in the entire USA has offered so much massage, so many massage therapists, 365 days a year. Since the mid-60s, virtually every major pioneer in the field of massage and bodywork has led workshops and taught at the Esalen Institute. People like Ida Rolf, Milton Trager, Moshe Feldenkrais, John Upledger, and many more, have all led workshops at Esalen. And since so many of the bodyworkers at Esalen have been there for long periods of time, they have had the opportunity to experience many different forms of bodywork, and incorporate many different modalities into their personal interpretation of Esalen massage. Another special attribute of Esalen is that for over 35 years up to 12 massage therapists at a time have worked together on the same deck overlooking the ocean. Because of their close proximity, they have always been able to see the work of their colleagues to their right and to their left, making for a collaborative working environment where everyone is learning from everyone else - truly a wonderful spirit of cooperation and mutual exchange.
Could you describe Esalen Massage for our audience?
Esalen massage is not so much a technique as it is a philosophy of integrating oneself with all the massage modalities available to create just the right bodywork for each individual client. This practice is a nurturing combination of long strokes, gentle rocking and stretching, sculpting of deep musculature and the precision of Chinese point work.
So who is the Esalen Massage Video intended for?
It's intended for anyone who wants to learn the real basics of how to give a full-body massage. Massage therapists and massage school owners come up to us all the time when we are at industry trade shows and conferences. They tell us how great the Esalen Massage Video is as a teaching tool and that they use it in their classes to show students many different modalities. Rather than a particular technique, the Esalen Video shows how you can tailor your own individual massage style, no matter where you might have studied or learned massage therapy.
How did you select the music soundtrack for the Esalen Video?
We always knew that we wanted the perfect music soundtrack to accompany the visual images in the program, but we didn't know who should compose the music. We met Michael Benghiat and explained what we were looking for in this piece of music, but we also thought that Michael needed to actually experience Esalen massage. We sent him on an expedition to soak in the natural hot springs at the Esalen Institute and receive a number of massages from the members of the Esalen Massage crew. We felt that Michael would have a better sense for the philosophy of massage that is done at Esalen if he visited.
How did At Peace Media get into the music business?
Our first music album release, Music from Big Sur, was the music soundtrack to the Esalen Massage Video. We created it because almost immediately after the release of the Esalen Massage Video, we began to receive feedback from massage therapists who loved the music and told us they wanted to be able to purchase it on a CD. So we contacted Michael and he arranged for some studio time to re-engineer the music onto a CD master. We released 'Music from Big Sur' in January of 1998 - the first CD release on the At Peace record label. As time went by, we realized how much our customers loved this music, so we talked to Michael about creating new albums specifically composed for our growing market of massage therapists, healthcare practitioners and other healers. We released three additional albums from Michael Benghiat in 1999, four albums in 2000 and three more albums in early 2002. We also introduced a new collection of music in 2002 called the At Peace Healing Music Collection. This group of CDs includes additional recordings by Michael Benghiat as well as five other musicians including Emmy-award winning musician composer Stephen Cohn, harpists Stephanie Bennett and Diana Stork, sound healer Ruth Cunningham and pianist James Mikhael. Our goal has always been to create music that has emotional resonance and spiritual depth or music that, as one of our customers described it, `helps people to relax and open to the benefits of our compassionate touch program`. The pace of our lives, the overstimulation and the stress that we all experience dulls our senses. After a while, we tend to shut down certain responses and reactions as a coping mechanism. Massage and bodywork helps to reawaken, refresh and reenergize our senses in a healthy way. We want our music to enhance this experience.
How would you summarize the mission and goals of At Peace Media?
The mission of At Peace Media is to make a positive contribution to the world through business enterprises that enable us to create healthy products for people to use in their daily lives and to assist professionals in their quest to provide compassionate, qualified care and nurture.