Why I became a bodyworker, and why I practice the way I do: This work is to restore humanity
I am drawn to bodywork and practice the way I do because I want to help people be their fullest selves, that is, to live consciously, creatively, dynamically, freely, and with resilience and joy. I believe attention to the body, which these days needs to be effortfully developed and maintained, plays a big role in this--fundamentally this listening is self-consciousness! Through experience, I have come to understand that holding anything in nonjudgmental awareness allows it to express itself fully--to truly exist--and this applies to everything, including the natural world, other humans, and your self. I feel free, happy, whole, and at peace when I feel safe to spread out and completely exist. In my experience, bodywork and energywork can offer this opportunity for a kind of self-awareness and connection that is quite profound--in addition to being necessary periodic cleansing practices of the physical body and energetic field.
I have not-entirely-intentionally woven together a perspective and skills that support these ideas from experience in several disciplines which converge on the themes of the consciousness-health relationship, sensory sensitivity, mindfulness practices, compassionate mentoring, and the fundamental importance of being at home in one’s body for quality of life.
For many years, I have been a professor of cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience, so I have a lot of experience teaching about the mind and mind-body relationships. I went through a period of frustration in engaging an academic perspective on this subject, one that is so inherently interesting and important to me. I grew to find currently well-accepted accounts of embodied consciousness (generally housed in the nervous system, if one is willing to even talk about the importance of subjective/phenomenological consciousness) inadequate to describe let alone provide much meaningful insight into the mysteries and beauty of the relationship between the body, perception, cognition, and emotions. This seemed strange because the body, perception, cognition, and emotions together seem to be the fabric of life. Also, because my training was research-oriented, there was no clear way to do anything with what I was learning about--little mention of healing or helping.
While I sometimes could not connect with the material or orientation to these topics at a deep level, over years of teaching, I came to value my role as a communicator and helper/mentor more and more, really enjoying working one-on-one with students. I could see how students blossomed with attention, compassion, and gentle encouragement--given support and s p a c e , I saw many confused and overwhelmed students find their own unique paths, graduate, and move on. At the same time, I felt more and more driven to try other approaches to understanding consciousness, the senses, memory, and how, along these lines, people affect each other--and I wanted to do something about this, concretely, rather than think and talk about it. From my work with ceramics, I knew I liked to work with my hands, and from my experience with yoga, I knew I liked to use my body. So I went to massage school. I was excited to work with my body and begin to acknowledge my intuition as a valuable source of guidance (after working with my mind and adopting only empirical or rational standards for truth). I also began to consciously develop my sensory sensitivity, and, finally I had the opportunity to be a helper for people one-on-one, this time without the mind getting in the way. Massage school was just the beginning of a wonderful set of experiences that continue to unfold around me, transforming my ideas about what health and healing are, what is possible for people in life, what and where the mind is, and what it means for people to sync up with each other. Because of my academic work, I also understand how easy it is--how culturally valued it is, generally--for people to disregard their bodies and “live in their heads,” even when they are talking about the body. (Or as one of my teachers puts it: "Dragging the body around behind the mind.") At this point, I deeply value the role of bodywork in opening and clearing people's minds/bodies, helping them return to their natural, present, balanced, innately healthy state. To me, this all involves connecting with one's inner guidance, and bodywork (and energywork) offers a way in by providing the opportunity to relax, safely feel, be receptive and nourished--to expand into one's full being (or consciousness... whatever you want to call it!).
While I was in massage school, I learned about the John Barnes approach to myofascial release, and I was surprised and delighted to find this a remarkably compatible framework encompassing my values. I view myofascial release as a holistic healthcare modality in which the therapist is the facilitator for the client's ability to release his or her restrictions, through the use of gentle, mindful touch, and a resonance of consciousness between therapist and client. I have since completed several seminars in myofascial techniques taught by John Barnes, and I am excited and grateful to personally evolve by continuing to study, practice, and receive this modality--both the internal and social connections here have been wonderful.
I am also intrigued by energy work, which has been a theme in my studies--myofascial release, shiatsu, Reiki, therapeutic touch, shamanic practices I've encountered, and of course yoga all deal directly with energy systems or can be conceptualized from an energetic perspective. I am very excited to offer intuitive energy clearing/activation sessions to help people ground themselves in their bodies, clear and balance the energy field around the physical body, and become more directly in touch with other dimensions of their beingness (aspects of consciousness). This also is a wonderful complement to myofascial release.