by Carl Johns, LMT, Mountain Medicine Integrative Wellness Center
“Studying the cadaver is like studying a telephone pole to find out how a tree works.”
—Rollin E Becker, OD
What Rollin Becker was trying to convey with the quote above is that we don’t work on the body in front of us — we work with the life that runs through it. We connect with the animating force (qi, prana, energy) that moves the blood, fluids and functions of the body.
Whether we are talking about the functions of muscles, connective tissues or organ systems, all are interrelated, and all are in the constant motion of life.
We engage this motion by taking the time to be present, to listen. We can listen and allow change to come forward from a still space; slowing down and not missing the messages of the body. We can also engage this motion with movement, working with the spontaneous dance of the human body that we are always in, even when we are on the massage table.
Compression, deep pressure, is one small aspect of the possibilities open to us in the bodywork interaction and can sometimes close down that motion we can bring to the table for opening the body to more ease of movement.
What this requires for massage and bodywork practitioners is that we get out of our heads and get into a feeling space. The client’s body in front of us is infinitely smarter than we are, and we should take the time to listen to what it has to say — to move with, to wait for change.
What this requires from clients is dropping preconceptions about what a massage should be — no pain, no gain, that sort of thing — and be open to the qualities of touch and connection that bring awareness and allow the wisdom of the body to express itself.
Then we move to a new level of what is possible when we engage the motion of life.