by John F. Barnes

Therapeutic Insight: The Myofascial Release Perspective—The Map is Not the Territory, MASSAGE MagazineWe have been taught that sound and light are separate phenomena. Is it possible that one emanates from the other?

To give you an example of how science’s linear way of perceiving a nonlinear world has limited us, I would like to paraphrase theoretician John Stuart Reid1, who states “all sounds have an electromagnetic component and that all electromagnetism is created as a consequence of sound.” He explores the nature of sound and light and the special relationship that exists between these seemingly unrelated forms of energy.

If this is true, this represents a massive error made by science’s ill-informed effort to fragment phenomena and may have delayed important new discoveries. “The energetic phenomenon of sound expands away from the epicenter as a bubble shaped emanation … The wave model is a purely graphical  representation … The outdated, yet widely accepted model of sound depicted as a ‘wave’ is incomplete because it proliferates the idea that  sounds’ motion through a given medium is wave like.”

The old scientific way of thinking in fragments mistakenly viewed sound and light as separate. Reid goes on to say, “It is proposed that all electromagnetism in the cosmos is a consequence of sound. Put differently, electromagnetism would not exist without sound.”

The following is a quote from Garth Whitcombe, L.M.T., “I was fascinated by John’s recent post on the MASSAGE Magazine blog, particularly, the information from Carol Davis regarding the glia in the brain: ‘Previously thought only to provide support and nutritional pathways to nerve, the latest brain scan research indicates glial cells “light up” during certain brain states, particularly emotional states. They have been shown also to play a role in regulating neuropeptides and neurotransmitters, thus thought to play a role in helping to regulate mood'” (Therapeutic Insight: The Myofascial Release Perspective–50 Years Ago).

I have been researching how music is processed in the human brain and the possibility that some kind of parallel ‘circuitry’ exists might help explain how the experience of intuitive and near instantaneous communication can happen in musical performance that transcends regular motor function in both speed of function and emotional fulfillment.

A mere 15 percent of the cells in our brain are neurons; the rest of the brain cells are called glia, and up until recently have been regarded as packing material. (Sound familiar?) 

“Scientists’ understanding of the brain has been shaken to the foundation by the discovery that these cells not only sense electrical activity flowing through neural circuits–they can control it.” — The Other Brain, R. Douglas Fields, Ph.D.

From time to time a scientific discovery reminds us that what we thought we knew about a subject was only a perspective or limited view.  We might call this an “aha” moment.  The aha moment for fascia is right around the corner. 

“While the sinusoidal representation of a pure sound tone is correct in the mathematical and graphic sense, it does not accurately depict how sound actually moves through gases, fluids and solids.”

      Confusing graphs, mathematical formulas and therapeutic protocols with reality has caused many people to erroneously view humans as two dimensional, linear objects. The map is not the territory! 

Our bodies are more than 70 percent fluid. The fascia is the container of and transport medium of the fluid in our body.  The fluidity of the fascial system is also the transport medium for the vibrations of sound and light to flow for cellular communication. Trauma, surgery, thwarted inflammatory responses and unresolved emotional trauma tend to dehydrate the fluidity of the fascial system, blocking the important transmission of light/sound for proper physiological function.

These two interrelated phenomena, sound/light travel through the fluidity of the microtubules of the fascial system carrying important information and energy to the cellular level. Myofascial release returns reason and effectiveness to health care. 



John Barnes, MASSAGE Magazine

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

1. Reid, John S. “The Special Relationship between Sound and Light, with Implications for Sound and Light Therapy.” Subtle Energies & Energy Medicine 17.3 (2008).

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:

View Part 1

View Part 2

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