Massage & Bodywork

JULY | AUGUST 2021

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L i s te n to T h e A B M P Po d c a s t a t a b m p.co m /p o d c a s t s o r w h e reve r yo u a cce s s yo u r favo r i te p o d c a s t s 63 Like "stressed" and "traumatized" before it, "burnout" has become the new repository for all manner of presenting symptoms, both physical and mental. As we pick up our tools and get back to work, this particular time in history calls us to our deepest motivations: to set a straight course into an uncertain future. Your deepest purpose can often be found by rummaging around in your origins: What got you involved in this work? No matter what form of manual or movement therapy you practice, 9 out of 10 of us arrived here through our own wounding. In my own case, it was not a direct injury that was healed by bodywork, but rather the curse of being the awkward kid, never "fitting in my skin," as the French say. Deep touch brought me into myself, and (re) started a long and joyful relationship with my movement and my emotional, sexual, and spiritual self these last 50 years. After many years of practice, my mature work has returned me to my wounded roots: As we come progressively out of the pandemic and back into touch with each other, I want every child to get the kinesthetic life skills I missed out on. I was stuck in a little metal desk in front of a blackboard. Our kids are jacked into a beanbag chair in front of a screen. As a career therapist, I can say this with assurance: An updated version of physical education—a real education in how their body works for our kids—would go far to alleviate a lot of the problems we deal with daily. Instead of a bright focus only on athletics, we need a User's Guide to the Human Body course for this generation of electronified children. Anyway, that's my own personal crusade based on my particular wounding. We all have wounds, and they are the key to healing—if not to full healing, at least to finding your true purpose in this lifetime. "Freedom is resting easy in the harness," said my teacher Peter, his little chuckle hinting at how difficult this simple task might be. Parents learn this lesson early (or don't, and then struggle with their children). Regardless, if you can find a harness that fits your shoulders and a load you can bear—well, there are worse lives than service. But we were talking about burnout (I promise, we will come back to the part about wounding again at the end). As we return to work (or maybe you have been working full time all along, but here comes a new world anyway), some of you—and a lot of your clients— are burned out. People often compare this physiological state to running out of gas, but the more proper analogy for burnout is lack of lubrication. For most of us this past year, parts of our motors have been running on overdrive, while other parts have turned over only lethargically, so burnout is the screaming of those loose belts and ungreased gears turning too fast for long-term health. Is it fair to say that "tired" is low imbalance at the end of the day or the week, "stressed out" is the same deficit at the end of the month, and "burnout" is the same process after a year? Depends on your innate resilience, and the words blur into each other, but it's something like that. WHAT TO DO WITH CLIENT BURNOUT The rest of our discussion applies to clients, but hey, you are smart enough to see where it might apply to you as well. Beyond the usual bromides we're all doing our best with already—diet, sleep, exercise, and personal connection (tell me about it)—what can you do as a bodyworker to help restore an integrated purr in a client's physiological motor? To wring the last bit of fuel out of this body-as-machine metaphor, we want

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