The concept of energy in bodywork has historically had, and I think wisely, a wide definition. It retains the mystery Muddy Waters evoked. Yet maybe we can see with a little less muddiness “how it’s done”.
In physics, it is more precisely understood that phenomena can be looked at in terms of being particles or mass vs. waves or energy. Energy is commonly defined as “work done”. It is connected to action, waves, movement, force, vibration; while structure is more connected with mass, particles, and matter.
Since any “thing” is both structure and energy, we can say, when we describe something as energy or something as structure, that we are taking a certain point of view, which our mind gives us the luxury to do. I can point to a wave in the ocean and say, “Look at the shape of that wave there.” In this case I am identifying it as a structure – the shape of a thing. Or I can look at the same scene and say, “Look at all the waving of the water,” in which case I am focusing more on its energetic aspect.
Interestingly, it is mathematically difficult to say both where something is in space, and how it is moving.
However, in human observation, it is existentially difficult not to see both simultaneously – the thing and its movement. Our common sense and our language puts the noun, the thing-ness, and the verb – what it does or is done to it – together. Everywhere we look we see the unity, the yin/yang of structure and energy.
Just as through Muddy’s music, we see how the guitar strings and their vibration move our body’s structure and energy into dance.