One of the legs we stand on is the knowledge the biological sciences give us. If we can’t find a love and fascination for anatomy, we probably have no business being massage therapists.
All the modalities bandied about to great acclaim and profit are mostly simply applied anatomy. All our ideas arise from this great form, the human body.
Therefore, simple accuracy goes a long way in creating therapeutic benefit and the artful experience of touch. This develops in several steps, each of which we repeat when we learn anything new.
First comes imitation. We repeat the words our teacher or textbook present us with. We observe and imitate what they show in palpation.
Second comes memorization. I see many students wanting to jump over this step. But the act of placing something like the words and notes of a song in your mind so that they take up residence in your body and soul is a giant step. Placing the visualization and words for each muscle’s origin, insertion and action is a sacred obligation.
Third comes embodiment. You know the anatomy so well that you don’t have to “think” about it to have accuracy in your touch. Your work has “a hesitant touch which doesn’t make mistakes anymore”. In other words, some of your anatomical knowledge now resides comfortably within the cerebellum where our movement programs are stored.
Fourth comes therapeutic relationship. When we do not need to spend much energy consciously recalling where the muscles are and what they do, then we are free to let more of our awareness be devoted to understanding this unique person and how we need to touch them to be of optimum service.
Like a muscle – what might be the details of the origin of this individual client’s pain and tension and strength? Now that I can pluck the notes in the sinews with accuracy, what is going to be the healing music?
Each session is a call-and-response. It is this deep listening and nonverbal conversation that provides the most marvelous therapeutic results.
A study was done of people who improved with psychotherapy. They discovered that it was not correlated with the psychotherapeutic approach – be it gestalt, Freudian, bioenergetic, Jungian, etc. It was directly correlated with this – the quality of the therapeutic relationship of client and therapist.
So exacting loyalty to the miraculous structure of the human body leads us ultimately to cultivating the optimum quality of relationship with the whole person. Accuracy ultimately results in the experience of massage and of oneself as a living embodiment of art and science.
*Photo Credit – Su Yeong Kim