by John F. Barnes, P.T.

Therapeutic Insight: The Myofascial Release Perspective—'The Maze', MASSAGE MagazineFor years, psychologists have been telling us we only use about 10 percent of our brain’s potential. Without realizing it, most people have been functioning in a linear mode that is logical, rational and analytical, which has a narrow focus. While this logical approach is important, it is limited, and therefore, most people spend the majority of their waking, conscious hours with a limited, myopic view of their experiences.

As children, our spontaneity, creativity and joy were stopped by our parents, and our educational system and culture wanted us to conform and “learn the rules.” Certainly, it is important to learn and abide by rules; however, there is no reason why we can’t tap into the wisdom, sensitivity and creativity we were born with, which allows us to be competent therapists and live life fully.

When people are stuck in a linear mode, they are usually not aware of it—and if they are aware, they don’t know how to expand to their full potential. Our linear ways of thinking are based on past information. This narrow focus is equivalent to viewing life through a telescope. Imagine at the end of the telescope is a prism that distorts incoming information. This prism would represent our conditioning, prejudices and unresolved emotions and pain.

We were taught what to think, not how to think. We became “word worshipers,” trusting only what authorities said or wrote. Our instincts and intuitive abilities were ridiculed in school, and the implied message was to not trust our own thoughts and certainly not to trust our feelings. In other words, we were not educated, but were entranced by mass hypnosis. Certainly, our intellectual, analytical, verbal side is important, but was meant to be a function of the other 90 percent of who we are: our wisdom, creativity, intuition, feelings, instincts and emotions.

If we do not have access to the other 90 percent, then we function in ordinary consciousness or consensus trance. In this trance state, we do not really think. We are on automatic pilot, functioning out of habitual patterns, regurgitating what we have memorized or been told to think and feel by others.

After a while, our habitual patterns run us. We create a situation in which many intelligent and well-trained health-care professionals experience difficulty working within the health-care system. It is obvious different health professions have become completely myopic and automatically perform the same obsolete techniques that were taught in school, even though experience tells them these antiquated techniques and myopic views (symptomatic care) are not working.

If you put a rat in a maze with a piece of cheese in one of the tunnels, the rat will explore all of the tunnels until it locates the cheese. The human being will continually run back and forth in the same tunnel ad infinitum because the cheese “should” be there. However, when we open up to the genius inside us, we put ourselves back in the driver’s seat and, with this awareness, we use our habits instead of them using us.

Isn’t it time therapists use their full potential, combining our intellectual and analytical side with our wise, creative, intuitive, instinctive and feeling side? Let’s open our focus and explore new vistas.



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

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

Part 1

Part 2