I have been blessed to be able to teach bodywork to students from all over the world. This profession offers me the opportunity to meet amazing people who inspire and challenge me to be the best educator, therapist, and person I can be!
Massage therapy is a profession that is open to almost everyone. Today’s classrooms are true melting pots with students of every age, religion, sexual orientation, race, and gender. The field calls to those who desire to help others, heal themselves and grow into new opportunities. It makes for a very dynamic experience!
A young man who was clinically blind enrolled in the first massage class I ever taught. Working with him to help him learn how to drape properly, how to gauge where he was starting and stopping his massage strokes, and how to navigate around the table during therapy was challenging beyond my ability to express. There were times when he wanted to give up. It was in those moments that I had to have more faith in him than he had in himself. Other times, I questioned my ability to teach him what he needed to know to be a successful therapist. In those moments, I would look at him, see how much energy and effort he was putting forth, and realize that I needed to step up my game. That experience was inspirational, not only for me but for him and his classmates. I will never forget the look on his face when he received his certificate the day he graduated from massage school. That experience changed me as an instructor. I learned that all challenges could be overcome if we work hard, trust ourselves, and don’t give up!
I also had the opportunity to teach massage to an individual who had just moved out West from New York after being close to Ground Zero on September 11, 2001. She had been diagnosed with PTSD and sought to heal herself and move forward in life in a profession that helped others. As you may expect, the experience of touching and being touched by others in her massage class triggered the trauma she so bravely worked to overcome. Her challenge was not something we could see. It couldn’t be solved by changing the table height or placing her feet on the floor differently. Her struggle was internal, and only she could defeat it. That said, her class held her in loving arms, respected her needs, and embraced the opportunity to support her. She graduated as an extremely talented therapist and, I believe, a whole person. It was an honor to walk that path with her. To this day, she inspires me when I work with anyone, student or client, who struggles with psychological conditions such as PTSD.
There are also the students who want to become massage therapists while respecting their religion's basic principles. That may mean they can only partner with students who are the same gender, need to be shielded from the eyes of students of the opposite gender when receiving a massage, or maybe unable to expose some parts of their body when acting as the client during practice. These circumstances certainly affect the perspective of other students in the class who now have the opportunity to learn about working with clients who practice religions different than theirs. Learning about and working with people who are different from you can be challenging, but it also creates a unique opportunity to learn and grow.
These are just a few examples of individuals who experience challenges to attain their goals. Being a part of this process has challenged me as a person and an instructor. I am always inspired by the determination and commitment these and other students display in their path to becoming the best therapists they can be, and they provide me with the lessons I need to be the best instructor I can be.
When you find yourself facing a challenge you are unsure of, you are prepared to conquer, pause and look around. There are opportunities for inspiration everywhere. Recognizing these can re-energize and invigorate you toward success.