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The Art of Listening to the Tissue

A bodyworker practicing Deep Tissue on a client in prone.

If I had to give someone a written definition of what Directional Resistance is, I would say "it is the palpatory sensation that’s felt when one sinks into the tissue to end range and feels that the tissue is resistant in one direction more so than in another".

There’s something funny about putting things into words. Often words don’t do the thing they are describing justice. When I think of Directional Resistance, it’s really so much more than the brief sentence I wrote above. In reality, it’s the mechanism to learning and honing the skill that truly sets my practice apart: listening to the tissue.

To be able to find the Directional Resistance, one needs to hone that special skill we seasoned bodyworkers may take for granted; listening through our hands. I’ve been teaching students who are newer to this skill lately and it’s been interesting to go back to teaching the building blocks of learning how to listen to the tissue with our hands. I know I could use the term 'feel' here and in fact, feeling is an amazing starting point (which is why I am comfortable using the term in the definition of DR). However, I believe what we teach at the Morales Method® goes beyond just feeling the way I would feel a soft blanket. I’m interacting with an incredibly dynamic, complex, storied, and layered being when I do bodywork on another human. When I hold that consideration in my awareness, it takes my work to a completely different place.

So, as you can see, this idea of listening to the tissue can get pretty ethereal, pretty quick. For this reason, we like to start with Directional Resistance at the Morales Method®. It’s more concrete, definable, and even the student with the least training in touch can usually begin to execute the concept pretty quickly. The first day of class is always interesting. There is a bit of a buzz during the first practice as people are familiarizing themselves with the concepts. As the day moves on and people begin to truly explore the concepts, the tone of the room changes. The buzz disappears and is replaced with a focus and intention at each table as students listen to the tissue to properly execute the Morales Method® Concepts of Palpation. It's quite mesmerizing, actually.

This ability to focus on the client in front of you and deeply listen to their body is what I believe truly keeps my clients coming back. Of course, it helps that I also help them feel better when they are in pain, but I believe I am able to do this so successfully because of my ability to listen to them. Not just their words, but the more subtle and silent communications they offer in our sessions.

If this is something you know you already do in your practice, we would love to hear about it! And if you feel it’s not, we challenge you to witness yourself in the upcoming days while you work. You may find you were taking your skills for granted and you’re deeply listening to your clients already!

As always, you can also check out our free Concepts of Palpation Online Course to see if Directional Resistance can be your doorway to this valuable skill as it was for me and so many others.


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