This year in late September, early October, I will celebrate my 10th anniversary as a bodymind therapist, as it was during these same months in 2001 that I participated for the first time in a workshop on the subject. It has been a rewarding journey ever since, which, although in some respects it evolved as straight as an arrow, also had its share of twists and turns. Especially the beginning was difficult. Lack of trust in my abilities was the main challenge, lack of self-confidence. In an article on bodywork in the leading Indian New Age magazine, I was later quoted describing the difficult beginnings with these words.
“When I started out with my practice as an independent bodymind therapist in Pune, because of certain aspects of the work I still couldn’t think of myself as anything but a masseuse. As this is not a very respected position in Indian society my success was limited and my clients few. However, after I had given a few demonstrations of my skills at several orthopedic physicians’ practices and as a result received referrals from them, it finally began to sink in that I am indeed a therapist, not a masseuse, and have extremely valuable services to offer. The techniques that I learned have actually saved people from having to undergo orthopedic surgery. This changed the picture totally.”
What happened? What changed not my outlook but my entire path from near failure to success? Not employment. I was self-employed. Not the backing of a larger organization. I was on my own. It was my skills, and skills alone. Skills are important.
They started to outshine, even fully transcend my hesitation when some time after the completion of my first 300-hour course a client came to see me with a neck problem. He had pulled a nerve, and his physician had suggested an operation to cut the nerve. However, he wasn’t quite sure if he really wanted the matter taken care of in that way. He would have preferred a less drastic approach. Hence, through another contact he was introduced to me.
After only 6 deep tissue/orthopedic muscle-sculpting treatments the patient regained full mobility. He again could move his neck and arm freely.
Out of gratitude and proud of his own stubbornness of having avoided minor surgery, he in turn introduced me to the orthopedic physician who had wanted to operate on him. The physician was impressed, yet not overly so. When we met, he said that he wanted to throw another challenge my way in order to test me further, so to speak. As a matter of fact, he sent his wife for treatment with me whom he was unable to assist himself.
The physician’s wife suffered from chronic neck pain, yet no bone deformity or malfunction of the vertebrae was discovered. The pain was so bad that she had to wear a neck collar, especially while traveling in a car, due to the numerous potholes on Indian roads that make the head jolt.
She needed more treatments than the first orthopedic client. As I recall, it took fifteen to twenty sessions before her neck and shoulder muscles were freed of all the tensions stored in them, which had caused the pain (rather than an invisible structural defect).
Once his wife was completely off her protective neck collar, the physician sent all of those of his client’s my way that he himself could not assist. We also became friends. The moral of this story is also very simple and straightforward: Without solid knowledge of anatomy and proper therapeutic skills, I would not have been in a position to help these clients. Without helping them I would not have been able to establish myself as a respected free-lance bodyworker.