Depending on what framework we hang our ideas about massage /bodywork on, we can get
different modes of understanding. Throughout the long stretches of time that humans have been
comprehending Natural Medicines, our motivations and their contexts have changed over many times.
Whether in Urban and Rural environments, Religious or Secular societies, Humans have
incorporated massage/bodywork into their daily lives as a foundational exercise for great
spiritual attainments and basic health; as a basis for functioning individuals, families and
In the urban environment of ancient cities all over the world - you may find bathhouses.
A place to soak and bathe in hot-water, to stretch, to receive a massage or chiropractic
adjustment, to refresh. All right there in the heart of the city. Even ancient peoples had stress, and
they built into the architecture; a public place for stress relief. Even having water available for
cleansing the body is purgative act, and in some countries a preparation for prayer. These areas of
cleansing were thought vital for the citizenry, and for good reason.
In yet other times and cultures, massage/ bodywork was cherished by the monks and priests,
probably first in Ancient India with Ayurveda. These teachings spread throughout Asia to Tibet,
China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam and so on. Shiatsu / Anmo, for instance, was created by the
Japanese after cultural exchange with Chinese Buddhist Scholars/ Monks. Mainly secluded,
monks focused on raising energies with meditation, Martial Arts / Yoga, minimal amounts of
food and Massage. Massage was an integral part of spiritual life and an art form.
Massage is also good for repair from injury- living a mountain lifestyle in the elements can be
hard on body. The Monks of past knew that stagnant energy from injuries and stress were blockages to higher
energy vibrations and the attainment of Emptiness; the daily wear and tear of life can diminish
the body-mind connection.
The Monks developed a great skill in healing self and others, in fact, to get healing from a monk, one had to find a
healer and climb the mountain to find him!
Massage/ Bodywork is a system in-itself. Motion in stillness ,and,
stillness in motion; these systems seek the harmony of nature by practicing mindful applications.
The internal and external experience of humankind was mapped and studied - blockages in the
body are blockages in the mind. Massage is the humble work of compassion to relieve suffering through the soft
tissues of the body. We are indebted to the masters of past for their work and dedication to relieving suffering while
treating their work like a science - charting, organizing, testing, and sharing.
Culturally Massage/Bodywork can be a key to mental health of our society; when your body
feels good your mind feels good. Mindful breathing, stretching, and massage can make an ill
person healthy and a healthy person super-resilient leading to attainment of wisdom.
Massage adapts to the culture that houses it’s methods and the people that practice it.
In Greece Olympians would use massage before and after competition to maintain optimum
Hippocrates (460-377 BC) was an Influential Physician, that was an advocate of rubbing and
frictioning the body to relieve pain and stiff joints as part of his constitutionally based holistic
style of medicine. He was also the first in western culture to make medicine a science,
understand the Four Humours of the body, the 5 stages of Pepsis (digestion/elimination and
Hippocrates: "The way to health is to have an aromatic bath and scented massage every day."
The greatest massage and health systems come from great philosophies and traditions that
studied the ways of nature. For it is in all these great traditions that knew the way to health is to
allow ones own healing power to operate. This force is the animating force of all things and can
be encouraged to normalize by applying nature to nature.
There has been a more physical approach in our Western Cultures; this has allowed Therapists
and Bodyworkers to understand anatomy and physiology to a degree never before in human
society. This knowledge will benefit future generations to come. There have also never been so
many types of treatments to choose from. I think this is a sign of the complexity of our post-post
modern lives, where we seek complex answers to complex questions ( really quite simple though
The problem with massage today is the association to sex. There are those still today that believe
touch equals sex. This is because healing is not allowed to be entered in their mind. We are being
cut off from nature and her healing capacities within ourselves. Massage and Bodywork
invigorates the vitality- in a professional environment; it’s not erotic. It is a deep relaxation without fear that allows
negative patterns to escape the bodies matrix. It also works on removing adhesions, lesions, and lactic
acid deposits ( this can be sometimes be momentarily painful ).
Medically speaking, the blockages in the body are the low hanging fruit of disease. They are
easily picked with petrissage, and, treated with tapotement. This is why massage has lasted
through the ages and is poised to be one of this centuries most effective tool to ease suffering and
disease. While the basis for massage will individually be relevant, we must choose as a society
to see the value in building massage/bodywork into the architecture of our country.
Never have we had so many choices in styles of bodywork, but it is up to us collectively to ensure the future of
bodywork, so that it can be better equipped for our grandchildren and beyond.