Therapeutic Insight: The Myofascial Release Perspective—Are You a Reductionist?, MASSAGE MagazineThe understanding of consciousness has eluded brain researchers because they have limited their focus to the brain.

A major international conference was held in Cambridge, England, called “Beyond the Brain: New Avenues in Consciousness Research.” Speakers included many of the world’s most eminent theorists of consciousness experience, including Nobel Prize winner and physicist Brian Josephson, neurologist Stuart Hameroff, psychiatrist Stanislav Grof, evolutionary scientist Ervin Laszlo, and psychologist Charles T. Tart. The conference concluded there was evidence of a shift away from the premise that consciousness is a mere byproduct of brain processes.

Reductionists tend to overlook the fact that neurons are alive. Traditional views of the hierarchical organization of the brain stop at the synapse as the fundamental switch, analogous to bytes in computers. The complexity of neurons and their synapses, however, are closer to entire computers than individual switches. This implies that the mechanism of consciousness may depend on an understanding of the organization of adaptive (cognitive) functions within the living cells.

The old way of observing this phenomenon was to try to break everything down into its lowest common denominator: the reductionist model. Until quite recently, there have been few experiments set up to observe the living system. Biology has a long tradition of fixing, pinning, homogenizing, extracting and fractionating. This unfortunately gave us a limited and distorted understanding of the interrelationships of the whole living system. Myofascial therapists view information and consciousness as two words for the same phenomenon.

I believe that information, consciousness, awareness, your electromagnetic field, your mind and love are different labels for your essence.



John Barnes, MASSAGE MagazineJohn F. Barnes, P.T., L.M.T., N.C.T.M.B., is an international lecturer, author, and acknowledged expert in the area of myofascial release. He has instructed more than 50,000 therapists worldwide in his myofascial release approach, and he is the author of Myofascial Release: The Search for Excellence (Rehabilitation Services Inc., 1990) and Healing Ancient Wounds: The Renegade’s Wisdom (Myofascial Release Treatment Centers & Seminars, 2000). He is on the counsel of Advisors of the American Back Society; he is also on MASSAGE Magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board; and is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association. For more information, visit

For more information about myofascial release, you can now access two separate excerpts from the Fireside Chat with John F. Barnes, PT DVD on YouTube. Just click on the following links:

Part 1

Part 2

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