by John F. Barnes, P.T., L.M.T., N.C.T.M.B.

Is there really such a thing as inner wisdom? If so, how can it be accessed? Our society has emphasized the “narrowly focused” intellectual side and ridiculed the “open focus” of our instinctual and intuitive nature.

Recent studies have demonstrated that using a cell phone while driving increases one’s chances of having an accident by more than fourfold. Why? This is because when dialing, talking and/or thinking, our consciousness is reduced to a small, narrow focus. This is dangerous because it eliminates our expanded awareness of our surrounding environment.

In the therapeutic setting, it behooves us to be in an open, centered focus, which I teach is the healing “zone” to access the clients and our inner wisdom.

As therapists, it is our responsibility to discipline ourselves, to be centered and to educate our clients in the value of silence, so that they can access their healing wisdom. Only when the therapist and patient are deeply centered in mutual silence do the depths of their wisdom become accessible for authentic healing to occur.

For years I have recognized that great therapists have an intangible quality that differentiates them from the average therapist. I have become aware that our educational training focused on the conceptual aspect of our consciousness, ignoring our deeper consciousness where our wisdom lies. In my myofascial release seminars, I label our intellectual side as channel 5. Our educational system taught us what to think, not how to think! Unfortunately, this was not true education, but instead a mass hypnosis, forcing us to memorize facts while ignoring and ridiculing our intuition, instincts and wisdom, which I label channel 3.

Therapeutic Insight: The Myofascial Release Perspective—Inner Wisdom, MASSAGE Magazine

Traditional therapy and medicine imposes its will trying to force logic on an illogical body via the channel 5 mentality, vainly focusing on “fixing” symptoms. As one moves deeper into myofascial release, we realize our past traditional training crippled us by forcing us to memorize a paradigm of reality that is terribly flawed and is erroneously based on principles that ignore an entire physiological system: the fascial system.

One of the greatest barriers we, as therapists, have to hurdle is unshackling our mind from the intellectual prison enforced upon us. Rational thought, logic and intelligence are important, but we must have the courage to expand into the very important type of intelligence and wisdom that is based on feelings (channel 3). Neuroscientists at the University of California have been analyzing decades of research on the multitude of characteristics associated with wisdom. They discovered wisdom is more than just cold calculation, as instincts and emotions are also critical.

Interestingly, a U.S. News and World Report article, titled “The Secret Skills of Leaders,” described the traits great leaders possessed. German sociologist Max Weber called it, “the firm taming of the soul: Today’s psychologists call it ‘emotional intelligence’ (EQ).”

Psychologist Daniel Goleman says emotional intelligence is the overlooked yet essential ingredient of leadership. In Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence, Goleman states, “that instinctual intelligence is the primary factor that distinguishes great leaders from average ones.”

A balance of both IQ (channel 5) and EQ (channel 3) is essential for great leaders and therapists alike. Myofascial release performed at the highest level allows the patient to expand beyond channel 5 into channel 3, where authentic healing can occur.

The traditional model of reality thrust upon us gave the false impression that we were small, inconsequential and helpless, and so we identified with the limited “false ego” (channel 5). In fact, neuroscientists have discovered that the database available to our subconscious (channel 3, EQ) is in excess of 10 million to one to that of our intellect (channel 5). So, we mistakenly identified with this miniscule aspect of consciousness and now need to correct this error by identifying with the vastness of our loving essence and the incredible, authentic power of our feeling intelligence (channel 3).

Our goal is to continually develop the prodigious power of our feeling intelligence (EQ) as therapists to help our clients tap into the healing power of channel 3, where our intuition, instinct and wisdom expresses itself in the most loving way.

Myofascial release therapists listen to their clients—but more than hearing their words, they also read their body language, repeated phrases (patterns) and the emotional tone of the clients’ words or phrases. This tells us much more than words, for this is the clients’ EQ speaking from their bodily wisdom.

After the first few treatments, too much talk—anything more than 10 percent of a treatment session—can be the client’s way of denying or camouflaging her deeper, inner fears. It takes courage for the client to feel these deeply held emotions—and it is our role as therapists to gently guide the client into her inner silence, so that the hidden information and deeply held emotional patterns stuck in the subconscious can emerge for true healing to occur.

If the client insists on talking incessantly, that is her choice; however, she came to her therapist for experience, guidance and wisdom. If the client insists on controlling the session and ignoring the therapist’s advice, then she may be denying herself of the most meaningful healing experience of her life.

As the saying goes, “Silence is golden.”


John F. Barnes, P.T., L.M.T., N.C.T.M.B.

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John F. 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, on MASSAGE Magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board and is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association. For more information, visit