“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is at the source of all true art and science.”
Bodywork is one of the great meeting grounds of art and science, and the human body, the human being, is one of the great mysteries of the universe. For thousands of years, bodyworkers from every corner of the world have used their sense of touch to refine their understanding of the human body. Whether we were shamans, witches, or physicians – healers of all kinds used their sense of touch to “look”, or to “listen” into the body. Our incredibly sensitive knowing hands have given us insight to the bodymindspirit. It is good to remember that most of what we “know” with our hands, as Mr. Einstein says, is the experience of the mysterious.
Science has endeavored to understand the human body by breaking down the whole into its respective parts and systems, progressing all the way into our molecular building blocks, into our DNA. Many diseases that used to be common killers have been all but eradicated and surgeons have explored every part of the body and prolonged life with their interventions, yet the healing power of simple human touch is still a mystery to modern science. Modern medicine also has an ancient history of practitioners who have been driven by the “experience of the mysterious.” These different paths of “knowing”, of the physician and the bodyworker, have been diverging for some time now, particularly in the last hundred years. It is time for them to come back together.
In the 21st century, the modern massage therapist stands in the great meeting ground between art and science. We are surrounded by the ever-changing knowledge of modern medicine, by the ongoing succession of discoveries, many of which will disprove the prior theory or knowledge of that particular field of study. We also work every day with that ancient art of “knowing” – touch. Through touch we bring the life force, the inner healing power of another human being to bear on the stresses and dysfunctions of the body. We learn the knowledge of all the systems, the science of the body, and then proceed to work with the whole person, with the bodymindspirit. We are bridging the gap between art and science and we should remember that our roots in the art of healing are very deep. The fact that the bodywork may be mysterious to the world of science does not diminish it. We should always hold a prominent space in the field of the healing arts.
The possibilities that are open to the modern massage therapist are seemingly endless and more people are discovering the benefits of bodywork every day. It is a time that is full of potential. Each of us will have to decide for ourselves how we are going to balance art and science, how we will relate to our experience of the mysterious. No matter how far we journey into the science of bodywork, it is wise to understand and trust the things we can never know about the incredible complexity of each individual human body, each individual human being.
“Wisdom is knowing what you don’t know.” -Chuang Tzu
Carl Johns, Director, McKinnon Body Therapy Center