Several years ago, I listened to a presentation about awareness and observation as an essential manual therapy tool. The conversation explored how we observe the world around us both as human-animal and therapist. A seam that caught my ear was how the speaker strung native-tracking skills with circular ripples of a pond to what and how injury impacts our bodies. Looking to nature to support discovery and recovery in her creations is wisdom from previous peoples. That is an idea, right in my wheelhouse. It was the closing remark that left me curious. "Leave the 'quest' in question," he said. That idea bounced around in my head like a loose bullet in a bucket banging about just waiting to go off.
Spontaneous creativity, visual imagination in detail, and educational cartoons whirled around my headspace. (a beautiful place to sit) Conjunction-junction what's your function? A train came rumbling down the tracks with 'quest' and 'question' in tow. While an airship (cartoon image of my brain) was viewing the relationship between questions, answers, and outcomes in a treatment room. The fantastic interaction between physics, thought, and innovation. Observation of the union between masses and forces were having an impact. What is it about questions? Are there qualities of questions?
A shift in my perspective was forming. The bullet in the bucket finally went off—the train on the tracks colliding with the airship producing an inevitable explosion, becoming this word that got trapped in my awareness -questionology. Questionology, the study of questions?? What?
Are questions important?
How do we ask our questions in relation to the responses we get?
What does a particular question mean?
What is the power of a question?
May it have several meanings?
Is the question being asked to facilitate conversation or work toward a punchline?
This idea became part of my daily zeitgeist. A survey of my personal and professional spaces opened into a vista of learning and listening opportunities. It became a resource for the crafting of better questions. Ones with greater impact, while others developed better precision yielding significant change. I began to create my system of questionology application.
The power of a question - crafting better questions - requires delicate balance of weight, touch, and timing. And practice.
I have had my share of conversations and questions over the years in my treatment room. I've had countless marriage proposals and more than enough inappropriate asks. Fantastic exchanges of life experiences and personal stories far outnumber the negative ones- each an opportunity or chance to learn about a soul and their journey. I am grateful for the thousands of opportunities to explore, with clients, their path of getting to their goals. The best questions opened doors while the bad ones didn't.
Heightened awareness became fertile soil to cultivate the concept of questionology. By using the observational skills gleaned from the presentation, theory and application got employed at the same time and in real-time.
The question's weight determines how heavy or light it is received. The client may sit with or wrestle with the question if not weighted well. Maybe the question gets deflected. The response is broadcast to a trained noticer while missed by others. A well-weighted question brings the harmony of life.
Touch is essential in life, business, and sport. It is required to be a world-class athlete across all sport. Messi, Ronaldo, Liverpool's front 3 of Salah, Mane, & Firmino. Crosby & Gretskey, Jordan, Gregg Maddox, Tiger. You get the point. The mother & father's 1st contact with the new baby is critical. Fostering the relationship between physical touch (in massage therapy) and the verbal connection is the convergence that honed Touch Education as a company.
I began to understand how the optimal timing of a question could enhance or inhibit a massage and bodywork session. A favorable response from the client or their tissues followed a well-timed question. An ill-timed one brings all positive change to an abrupt halt, much like a bad joke sucking the life out of a conversation.
The power of a question in massage therapy
Touch is vital regardless of your age, stage, or place in life. For millions around the world, massage therapy is a critical piece of healthcare. Massage and bodywork are an indispensable part of dealing with pain, injury, recovery, and better function.
It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.
Let me unpack a scenario for you that can be read or interactive.
Begin by breathing simply. In and out- through your nose. Nothing big, just your daily pace and depth. Do this for 60 seconds with no other distractions. Set your timer for 70 seconds so you can settle in a bit. Breathing, observing, and sitting in the space of non-judgment are the requirements to participate. Scan your body from head to toe- chest to back - left to right- 3D vision. You may feel into parts of your body or not. You may have thoughts or past events bounce into your awareness. Just note what shows up as you breathe. It is not uncommon for nothing to show up. If this activity is hard for you, please know you are not alone. I can help you with that.
For the sake of this activity, we will present someone who did the 60-second breathing and identified and injury that developed into widgetitis. Widgetitis is inflammation of a widget. (Back to School offers a funny breakdown of a widget for business & comes with a non-PC disclaimer)
What happens when we ask different questions? What do you observe in your awareness as the questions change? Sit with each question for as long as you wish.
Why did the widgetitis show up? can be transformed into:
What happened that lead to this?
When did this start?
When do I first remember this?
How did it happen?
How did it progress as it developed?
Where did it happen?
Where did it land in my awareness?
How long does it last?
What did you notice in your awareness as you went through the questions? Did the changes alter what or how you saw? Did you notice any shift in what or where you noticed? What if you noticed nothing? I am here to let you know that 'Nothing' is an acceptable answer.
Responses to the questions will vary, and a lack of response still offers information. The reactions in our awareness and body are influenced by our experiences as we process the questions. My role as a massage therapist is to observe how your body responds in real-time, with hands-on. We are professional noticers looking for ways to help you feel better, get better, or be better. The power of questions offers authentic feedback.
With massage therapy, I assess how optimal or efficient your environmental awareness is, internal and external. I have the skill to listen to your body and hear with my hands. I notice where it is good and where it isn't healthy. It is beneficial to understand the relationship of how the world we live in, influences us, and how we impact it. I help to translate some of those messages for you. Through touch, I connect you to you. Reunite you with you. Sometimes introduce you to you.
Take time to breathe with stillness and awareness. It can be challenging, hence the non-judgment qualifier. Recognize that we can get stuck on asking the same question that leads to the same answers, and little change. A simple curiosity shift helps us to find better questions.
Better questions lead to better. Fostering curiosity for the better-ing of a human is one of my greatest joys in life. How can I help you human better?