“Touching hands are not like pharmaceuticals or scalpels. They are like flashlights in a darkened room. The medicine they administer is self-awareness.” –Deane Juhan

A major theme of my work is client education. I think one of the reasons for the success of the “For You” instruction manuals by Dr. Oz in the last few years (besides the gold stamp of Oprah approval) is the fact that so many of us know very little about the bodies we live in. We jump at the opportunity to learn more in an accessible way and have more control over our own balance and wellbeing in daily life.

When a client comes in with a chronic or acute pain situation, I want them to have as many tools as possible that they can use when they leave. Tools of self-awareness, tools of knowledge. These are the tools that truly create lasting change.

I do hope to make a difference for my clients in the 60 or 90 minutes we have together. But I am not an interventionist that seeks to ‘surgically’ eliminate a nagging problem. I hope that our work will grow and bloom over time, stimulating new levels of self awareness, understanding, and self care.

There is a physical law called Wolff’s Law: The body molds itself to the forces placed upon it. This law is always in action at every moment, awake or asleep, active or inactive. Our daily (and nightly) habits all inform the shape and pull of our bodies and the feeling state of our inhabited space.

As we better understand the forces placed upon our bodies, we are able to enter a dialogue of self care with ourselves that we never had the language for before. Which, of course, leads to a much happier body!

Deane Juhan expresses this philosophy well in his Introduction to his book Job’s Body.

From the Introduction, page xxix:

“Bodywork, then, is a kind of sensorimotor education, rather than a treatment or a procedure in the sense common to modern medicine.

A point worth remembering here is that in this educational experience it is not the bodyworker who is “fixing” the client. The bodyworker is not attacking a localized problem with specialized tools, confident of achieving certain results. Instead, he or she is carefully generating a flow of sensory information to the mind of the client, information that is not being generated by the client’s own limited repertoire of movements–new information that the mind can use to fill in the gaps and missing links in its appraisal of the body’s tissues and physiological processes. It is the the mind of the client that does the “fixing”–the appropriate adjustment of postures, the more efficient and judicious distribution of fluids and gases, the fuller and more flexible relationship between neural and muscular responses.

The bodyworker is not an interventionist; he is a facilitator, a diplomatic intermediary between physiological processes that have lost track of one another’s proper functions and goals, between a mind that has forgotten what it needs to know in order to exert harmonious control and a body politic which increasingly utilizes disruptive demonstrations, terrorist tactics, and even the threat of all-out civil war to regain its governor’s attention.

Touching hands are not like pharmaceuticals or scalpels. They are like flashlights in a darkened room. The medicine they administer is self-awareness. And for many of our painful conditions, this is the aid that is most urgently needed.”

Deane Juhan, Job’s Body: A Handbook for Bodywork, Third Edition