Massage Therapy and Teaching – Beyond our Imagination?

Capturing the imagination and the bodymindspirit of a client or a class, let it be said, is not always easy.  It is a large part of the art and the mystery of what we do.

What words will enlighten, what gestures muscle-to-muscle, bone-to-bone will make a needed or long-for difference in their pain, posture, psychological or physical tensions?  In a class or in a client what makes for the highest level of integrative function and structure?

It is like the challenge of really capturing who someone is by painting a portrait or doing sculpture.  How can you help the person be more himself or herself – find the angel in the marble – through removing holding patterns that no longer serve them?

In a massage class it’s the same thing – how can you help the individuals be more fulfilled and find a way to get the class-as-a-whole to be a self-evolving ‘organism?’  I remember reading how each level of life clearly has intelligence – from cells, to tissues, organs, systems, and organisms until we get to groups of organisms where unfortunately intelligence is not a given.  Politics reveals with tragedy and comedy how social intelligence is still often beyond our grasp.  And what pain and tension that causes!

I digress a bit.

What I wanted was to tell a story from Alberto Giacometti, the Swiss artist, that conveys the fascinating difficultly of capturing the reality of human being – in his case through sculpture and portrait – in ours, the evocation of the more fulfilled experience of the client or, for teachers, the class.

Giacometti, after years of working from memory and working in a largely abstract or surrealistic vein,

“(had) a wish to make compositions with figures.  For this, I had to make (quickly I thought in passing), one or two studies from nature, just enough to understand

the construction of a head, of a whole figure, and in 1935 I took a model.  This study should take (I thought) two weeks, and then I could realize my compositions.

I worked with the model all day from 1935 to 1940.  Nothing was as I had imagined.”

He found it was nearly impossible to truly capture who someone was.

For me, as a therapist and teacher, I find the similar challenge,

With each class and each client, I do this existential double take.  I think with doubt, “Is it really possible I can help make a significant difference?”

Sometimes, like Giacometti, nothing is as I had imagined.

Yet it is perhaps this most fascinating challenge and frustration in the field of learning, therapy and healing, that we get to move into, explore, maybe even help create, worlds beyond our imagination.