Jon Musgrave, Licensed Massage Therapist
Compassionate Structural Bodywork


What is Compassionate Structural Bodywork?


Let's begin with BODYWORK. This is a term that gets thrown around a lot, especially in New York, because whereas "massage" is a regulated industry in New York State, "bodywork" is not, and so many businesses that wish to work outside of the state legal system use this term. This is especially true of Asian-style businesses that hire untrained workers. 

So why on earth (you might be thinking) would I use that term to describe my own work?! The answer is that "bodywork" is a term that encompasses many more practices than "massage." Massage is any practice where a practitioner moves their hands (and knuckles and elbows and maybe even feet!) across the skin to create a physical change in the body. Bodywork includes all of these practices, but also includes practices that don't adhere to this definition. CranialSacral Therapy, Reiki, the Alexander Technique, Zero Point Balancing, the Bowen Technique, and countless others are all subtle practices that are better described as bodywork. In my practice, I use some massage techniques (connective tissue therapy, neuromuscular therapy, Swedish massage) as well as more subtle or energetic bodywork techniques (energy palpation, directed visualization, embodied anatomy, and body mapping). You can find more detailed descriptions of these techniques here.

And one other thing: by using the term bodywork, I'm letting you know that the work you'll experience is different than a massage you would get at a spa or gym.

And now onto (or really, backwards-to) STRUCTURAL. Structural work is any bodywork that is working to elicit change in the structure of the body: the tendons, ligaments, and bones (well, not really the bones, per se, but the relationships of the bones to each other, also known as the joints). Now you may be thinking, "but isn't this what all massage does?" The answer is no. Swedish massage, for instance, works to decrease muscular tension by increasing the movement of fluids (particularly blood in the veins returning to the heart). Structural changes in the relationships of the bones or the tension sets of the tendons or ligaments might be affected by this, but that is not the main goal. In my work, the main goal is to bring more balance into the structure of the body so that the muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, skin, and everything else that holds tension in the body can feel more freedom.

Which brings us to COMPASSIONATE. This is really the most important part of my work. As a basic premise, my clients and I need to understand that I, Jon Musgrave, am not actually doing anything to heal my client's body/mind/spirit; the body/mind/spirit is doing that for itself. What I am doing is acting as a facilitator, helping to create the space (both physically, but more importantly energetically) in which this healing can happen. I'm entering into a relationship with my client's body/mind/spirit. (This is a reason that I believe that all bodywork should be non-painful. More on that in a future post.)

I hope this helps clarify what I mean by COMPASSIONATE STRUCTURAL BODYWORK, but if you're still confused, don't fret: new sensations are very badly articulated via words (imagine trying to explain "blue" to someone who cannot see and you'll see why). The best way to really understand is to experience it for yourself.

Jonathan MusgraveComment