The Morales Method ® Practitioner- the artful dodger
As a Morales Method® Practitioner, I like to think I dodge the confinement of “the” answer, a formula, and certainty, quite like Neo dodges bullets. Instead, allowing for stillness and listening by sitting in the question when engaging in the art of Structural Integration.
It is natural for us as humans to want to understand the guidelines for something we are doing. It’s in our social conditioning to know what’s right and wrong (which ironically are also social constructions that change throughout cultures and history). It makes sense because it helps us stay safe and navigate the world with more ease when we do things “the right way.” The more detailed and specific our given guidelines, the more potential we have to be “right”, so it is our natural tendency to seek them out. What I love about the Morales Method®, is that it flips the script on this idea. Instead, a skilled practitioner is well versed in the philosophy of the modality and all the potential it has to be applied to different situations encountered on the table (rather than having a toolbox full of different rules and techniques to pull from). In this way, I feel I have so much space to follow my intuition and try new approaches to work through the issue at hand.
While I understand the comforts and the gifts of certainty, and want to validate those, I am also weary of its pitfalls. Certainty can cause us to rest on our laurels, encouraging us to settle in to a comfort zone with our work. We can become certain that within the confines of our comfort zone we work safely and effectively. Our comfort zone can shroud that we are, in fact, limited by these techniques and rules of which we are certain. And when we are inevitably taken out of our comfort zone in our work, the original guidelines may no longer apply, leaving us feeling lost and unable to navigate. Working from this shaky foundation can get us into trouble by making decisions from insecurity or panic. Also, once we have settled in, there is no need to question or explore the comfort zone further. That’s kind of the whole point of the comfort zone. We usually begin to filter through information we receive, ignoring what doesn’t fit the paradigm and accepting what supports it. When taking the Morales Method® classes, I felt challenged to step out of the shelter I had created in my practice. Marty encouraged me to explore what’s outside and I was able to see all the valuable information I had discarded and opportunities I had missed in the safety of my comfort zone. I felt the paradigm shift coming after just 8 hours of knowing the Morales Method® as I began to become aware of the structure I had built around myself.
Part of this structure of certainty involved rationalizing the causes of dysfunction. I recall latching onto some statements early on in my bodywork career like “dysfuction usually ping pongs across the body” because I felt I was being handed down a secret shortcut. There are so many things to think about and juggle when doing bodywork, it felt like it was such a gift to be handed something that I thought was a constant. When looking at my client and seeing an affected left shoulder, I would often assume there was an issue with the right hip and the left knee. I bullheadedly kept this up, trusting my comfort zone until my first Morales Method® classes. Every time I would come to Marty during class so sure that my go to ping pong pattern was showing in the student in front of us, he revealed other parts of the painting to me that I had hidden from myself. I learned that in the confines of bodywork, the body does not function in this linear way. The variation between and within bodies is SO vast that needing to find the true source of dysfunction is impractical and a waste of time, to be blunt. I found that by letting go of my need to know, I created more space for listening to my client’s body. I could allow the information to come to me, rather than seeking out the pieces of information that supported my view.
Another piece of this comfort zone of mine that the Morales Method® helped me see was how my need for explaining my results was tied up in my ego. I felt for some reason that if I was unable to rationalize my results, they were invalid and therefore, I was invalid. When watching Marty demo, I would often put him on the spot, asking details about what was happening, why it was happening, where it was happening, what are the implications of it happening or not happening, until no one knew which way was up anymore! At first, it irritated me how I felt Marty “Neo’ed” his way out it, artfully dodging my questions or simply responding with “I don’t know.” All I could think was, “What do you mean, ‘I don’t know?’ Aren’t you the teacher?” Over time, I began to understand and highly value that he was modeling how to not bring my ego into my practice. If he truly didn’t know, he would just say that. I eventually even realized if he just sat and thought about it sometimes, he could know, but it didn’t matter. He still got results and did amazing work without knowing. Rationalizing the results did not make his work more or less valid or effective. I learned that the Morales Method® encourages the practitioner to trust the results they see—then to move forward accordingly, or to take a step back and reassess.
Another reason I learned a lack of ego is necessary when utilizing the Morales Method® is that we must be comfortable with potentially exploring the wrong avenue. The definition of ego according to Google is “a person's sense of self-esteem or self-importance.” When ego is in the picture, it becomes vital that we succeed at our job, for our self-worth is tied up in it. If we fail, we must be bad at it and therefore must have less worth in general. By committing to this belief, we miss the wealth of learning and information to be found in mistakes. Curiosity becomes limited for fear of committing to the wrong answer. We stick to paths we are more certain of and may miss information and opportunity as a result of our fears. The Morales Method® has encouraged me to confront these issues of ego and learn to take it out of my practice.
Practicing this act of sitting in the question and letting go of certainty on your table can permeate itself into your daily life. I have had many students talk to me about how this philosophy applies to so much more than their bodywork practice. It can be a challenging for my students to embrace these ideas. Making these changes can cause us to question the things we have become “certain” about in our lives and take a second look (scary!). It can be a paradigm shift to accept that it's ok to be wrong and to develop our opinions as we gain new information. Tied to this idea, it can be very uncomfortable at first to sit in the unknown without an immediate answer as we let go of those ideas of which we were once “certain”. There is no obvious safety of a framework to hold onto and guide us. In the end, it does put more of the responsibility in our hands, but it also gives us more autonomy. I am so grateful for the lessons I have learned from the Morales Method® on and off the table.