Lauren Berry Sr.
Lauren Berry Sr. was born in Oakland, California, 1917.
Lauren's legendary career as a body worker began at an early
age when his next-door neighbor, a retired Finnish physician,
took an interest in Lauren and showed him several Swedish gymnastics
techniques that he could use to help his ailing mother. Over time
he counseled and guided Lauren as he continued to help his mother
recover and regain her health.
It wasn't long before word spread and people started showing
up on his door step eager for him to "work his magic".
Often Lauren would come home from school to find a house filled
with people waiting for him to help them.
Later in life, Lauren often would jokingly refer to his practice
as a "ding joint", as his mom had taken an empty fishbowl
in which people would leave money as their form of donation and
support. As coins were tossed in the bowl, it would make a "ding"
sound. A number of events and coincidences helped shape and guide
a career in bodywork and alternative health that grew to be legendary
Among those coincidences...
One day a mother brought in her son who had a condition referred
to as St. Vitas Dance. Lauren performed his series of Swedish gymnastics
stretches followed by relevant specific soft tissue work and the
boy's symptoms disappeared. A few weeks later, the boy's father
arrived to visit and discuss what Lauren had done for his son. Apparently
the mother had heard about Lauren and had not confided in her husband
how she had taken their son to see Lauren until after the boy's
symptoms had disappeared. Evidently the parents had taken him to
numerous Physicians with no positive results.
The father was profoundly curious as to how his son had been "cured"
and wanted to know how this uneducated young man had attained such
dramatically positive effects for his son where modern medicine
had fallen short. He came to express his gratitude and support for
what Lauren was doing.
As fate would have it, this father just happened to be the Coroner
for the county and arrangements were made for Lauren to have access
to the autopsy room. This is where Lauren was able to study fresh
anatomy and answer his growing questions concerning how and why
these gymnastic movements and stretches worked so amazingly well.
From here he went on to develop many of his foundational premises
and concepts instrumental in his understanding and working with
the human bodies' built-in intelligence and repair mechanisms.
In the autopsy room, as Lauren was working with bodies and performing
the gymnastic stretches, he witnessed tissue distortions correct
and realign themselves in relation to the surrounding regions. This
helped him to realize how the positioning played a fundamental role
when performing the stretches to correct distortions in the lower
back and throughout the body. Subsequently, he developed his "patented"
stretches as a foundational starting point to correcting physical
distortions and problems all over the body.
Another important event evolved around the arrival of the friendly
newspaper vendor that Lauren had often helped hand out newspapers
at his corner stand near Broadway in Oakland. The man had been hit
by a car and killed. The vendor had been handicapped since birth
with a dislocated hip that had turned almost 180 degrees relative
to where healthy normal should be. Imagine one of your feet being
turned so as to almost face backwards.
According to his friend, his leg had been that way since birth.
Lauren knew that the ball of the femur had never been in the socket.
With a curiosity of young man, Lauren set out to see how the ball
would fit in it's socket after all these years if they were re-united.
Please understand that from Lauren's early childhood he demonstrated
a high degree of mechanical aptitude. He had been allowed to work
in his stepfather's machine shop after having proven his competence
by building a working model of a wind up clock. So when his old
friend showed up, he set up a bluing test, which was commonly used
in machine shops to test clearances within one-one\thousandths of
an inch. Lauren performed this test and found that this ball &
socket joint fit together perfectly. This was amazing to him since
these two anatomical structures had grown independent of each other
since birth and had never had any direct "functional influence"
on each other.
This understanding was a revelation for Lauren and was pivotal
to his developing appreciation for the human bodies built-in "intelligence".
From this time on he viewed his role as assisting and helping the
body to use its own intelligence to maintain and repair itself.
He concluded that a good body worker would not interfere with the
bodies' ongoing processes so much as they would assist those abilities
by correcting and reducing the interference from soft tissue distortions,
adaptations, and spasms.
Tools and information continued to arrive in some unexpected ways.
One event had Lauren watching a prize fight in Oakland and somehow
he ended up working on a fellow spectator's neck. The man was grateful
and returned the favor by showing Lauren several East Asian/Indian
family "secrets" for understanding and working on the
bodies' visceral and hydraulic systems. Lauren went back to the
autopsy room to verify and further understand what he been shown.....
This amazing story will be continued...
Look for a more in depth article in an upcoming issue of Massage
Learning from the Masters
The Institute of Integral Health
Inc. continues to teach and certify practitioners of the Lauren