Massage training typically gives considerably more focus to learning about muscles and bones than it does to the skin. But skin is not just a surface envelope for the really important functions within. It is a complex physiological system that affects every other system in the body. This integumentary system protects, contains, feels, communicates, absorbs, digests, filters, secretes, excretes, heats, cools, and breathes. Skin is what massage therapists most directly contact, and it is important to realize our impact both on it and the whole person.
Existence is a song. Everything vibrates, from the smallest of molecules to the very universe itself. Where there is vibration, there is sound.
To hold, press, or rub an area of the body that hurts is a natural response. We do it without thinking — for headaches, stomachaches, back pain, bumped knees, cramps — and such contact usually offers relief. Acupressure is a skillful way of relieving pain and disharmony through simple, intentional touch.
Breathing is the first action we take as an autonomous being, and we continue to do so until we give up this body. From the first breath to the last, we exist dependent upon an energetic exchange between inner and outer environments. Without breath, we perish. We can survive for weeks without food, for days without water, but we will die if deprived of air for more than a few minutes. To live is to breath.
Life is an act of affirmation. Each day that we rise from our bed and engage in the moment-by-moment activities and choices that script our personal story, we are saying “yes” to life. Some do it unconsciously. Some do it with great relish and joy. Some do it consciously and with skill.
Emotions, of themselves, are not a problem. Everyone experiences a range of emotional feeling throughout their lives: Sadness, anger, joy, worry and so forth. They are a natural part of our embodied experience and a normal response to our environment. They are neither positive nor negative. They only become problematic when they are notably intense and excessive and, especially, when prolonged over a long period of time, without expression or acknowledgment. Everyone feels anger at times, but it is normally a strong, but short-lived, response to a direct and immediate stimulus.
While developing a somatic healing practice, I found meditation and Buddhist teachings gave me incredible support in developing a logical approach to health and healing. The result? Insight Bodywork™, a young branch on the well-established tree of Dharma Medicine.
Energy healing is often discussed as a new, somewhat unexplainable therapy. Truth is, energy work is an effective bodywork that is as ancient as healing itself.
Studying many Asian bodywork forms is like learning a martial art. The practitioner practices the sequence, or kata, over and over until it is so embodied that the form can eventually be forgotten and the appropriate response will arise when needed, without the intervention of thought or will. The zen archer no longer shoots the arrow; the arrow shoots itself. This is the way of mastery.
The point of healing is to re-establish, and to help maintain, harmony. Balance, after all, is the normative state. According to Traditional Asian Medicine (TAM), the natural condition is the intricate and graceful dance whereby Yin and Yang, Blood and Qi, and the organs and the channels complement, support and counterbalance one another. It is in the disruption of this systemic equilibrium, or of the harmonious relationship between the body and its environment, that disease emerges.