First I want to thank the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education, Biofreeze and Bon Vital for this award. This is a certainly one of the greatest honors of my life. Thank you for your generosity!
Every teacher of value has themselves had many great teachers. I want to thank Herbert Brun, my music composition teacher in college; Bob King, my first massage teacher and dear friend (what a gift you have been to me and to our profession!); Paul Brown, psychotherapist and consigliore; Rolfer, Daniel Blake, from whom I learned Structural Bodywork; and my friend and mentor, Dr. Fritz Smith with whom I have studied Zero Balancing since 1986.
I wouldn’t be here today without John Conway and the teachers and staff of Lauterstein-Conway Massage School in Austin and my students there and throughout the U.S and U.K. Finally biggest thanks to my wife, Julie and children, Katja and Jake.
I’m going to use a word we sometimes avoid when talking about massage. That word is “Love”.
I am a member of the so-called ‘love generation’, grew up in the 1960’s. As I was thinking about it, really every generation, every person more or less is here generated by love. And so is our profession. More than any other health profession, massage is the explicit application of manual skill, knowledge, and, perhaps most importantly, kindness, love, care, energy – whatever you prefer to call it.
This is perhaps the greatest learning objective of all – one of the greatest destinies of massage and of humanity – the triumph of love over hatred.
Nothing is more important or more challenging to teach than the capacity and skill to love.
This triumph requires the integration of ourselves and our clients – to overcome dysfunctional physical, mental, and spiritual conflicts. Unresolved inner division can be a breeding ground for hatred.
This integration of self and then of community involves:
- The soul force, ‘satyagraha’, meaning ‘insistence on the truth’ advocated by Gandhi
- The integration and non-violence spoken of by Martin Luther King
- The structural integration of Ida Rolf, who said,
- “If you’re primarily interested in pathology, leave here, go to medical school – that’s what they’re good at. I’m not interested in fixing bits and pieces – I’m after larger game – contributing to the evolution of human beings.”
- The integration advocated by Dr. Smith and myself who define the highest level of bodywork as the ability to simultaneously and consciously positively affect both energy and structure.
So many people in our profession want to see an integrated model of massage as a humane science and art prevail. Massage isn’t just a physical therapy AND we need to be masterful and in love with anatomy, physiology and kinesiology. Massage isn’t just energy work AND we need to be masterful and thrilled with the ways our touch affects emotion, mind, heart, soul and spirit.
Why do our students come to us? Most often they sense and they know – without ever saying to themselves – there is a place for their love in this world.
I have dedicated my teaching to this learning – as challenging for me as it is for anyone else – the practice of peace and love grounded in the bodily experience of being alive and in community.
I see the dawn of a new era in massage and bodywork – the integration of our field itself. We are beginning to see so many therapists and even all the organizations embrace the integrative vision that says considering only the structural or only the energetic aspects of massage are both one-sided approaches. We can now dismiss these arguments as if they had been arguments for which eye you ought to see out of. We see ever more clearly with open eyes, minds and hearts, overriding the answers provided by structural and energetic approaches, is the answer provided by love.
There is place for our love in this world. With our touch we can help everyone address the sufferings of injury and disease, the challenges of disposition, and the fulfillment of our individual and collective destiny. May we be a blessing on this earth.