Whole-Brain Thinking

By Robert Chute
[Practitioner Parables]

The practitioner told an inspiring healing story of how she used gentle bodywork techniques to ease her father’s pain.

“Did you get a case history? There are contraindications for a reason, you know! You were working on a hospitalized patient without paperwork. You opened yourself up to getting sued!” The objecting therapist was vibrating with anger.

The practitioner froze and turned ashen. “He loved it. It helped.”

“That’s beside the point!”

“But … he was my father. He wasn’t going to sue me.”

Out of fear, something beautiful was made ugly, and what we fear defines us. This isn’t a diatribe against paperwork, but against the loss of the spirit of the healer. Have we lost heart while building brains?

I’ve received great massages from people with 150 hours of training. I know some therapists I’d never allow near me who graduated with top marks after extensive training. Quantity does not equal quality.

I’ve met therapists who value right-brain thinking, emphasizing the art of massage. They haven’t done an orthopedic test in years. I hope their practices are such that they aren’t missing something that is a detriment to their clients. Many value left-brain thinking, focusing on the science. For them, every session is a treatment—even if that’s not what the client has in mind. Either approach can be emphasized inordinately. I suggest we use our whole brains, fully engaging all our faculties.

Veteran therapists are loaded with experience. That history informs their skills and allows for pattern recognition that can make them appear magically intuitive.

Unfortunately, sometimes all that history can grind them down and they may forget the joy of the work. Newbies have “Beginner’s Mind,” so some of the most wonderful massages are to be had from students and recent graduates.

Reevaluate. Think back to your first year massaging. Remember how your brain lit up with recognition of the ineffable intrigue of exploration through palpation and empathy? Remember the joy of it? There was an openness to learning for its own sake. You weren’t just treating people with your skills. You were focused on thinking and feeling and palpating and treating and communicating care through your touch. Remember?

I hope you’re actualizing your full potential right now. If you’re not, return to the innocence of Beginner’s Mind. Remember that feeling and the care you took when it was all fresh and you weren’t bored or worried. You were innocent and fascinated.

Do not fall into the trap of doing cookie cutter massage, working to the same depth and doing repetitive production line work. Otherwise, you’re just a machine. Come back to the time when the work was not routine. Return to joy. As Way of the Peaceful Warrior author Dan Millman writes, “There are no ordinary moments.”


Robert Chute, RMT, can be contacted at consciousbodywork@hotmail.com. Despite appearances, in his heart he is innocent and new.