We find ourselves in a strange time. Whatever your opinion may be regarding this pandemic, it cannot be denied that there has been a disruption to “the status quo”. There is a lot of uncertainty around the best way to move forward. My opinion is that we should listen to the suggestions of the medical and scientific communities. I believe that life is more than your occupation, how much money you accrue, and what you spend it on. Our approach to treatment has been to prioritize the care of human beings. To give top priority to the things that help us thrive as organisms. These “things” often contradict the values and practices of our modern day society.
I opened Muscle + Bone three years ago in a weekend of frustration with my experience of how massage therapy was being offered, a desperate need to unfetter myself from expectations, and a desire to expand the understanding of what massage therapy could be.
In my career as a massage therapist, I have touched a lot of people (pun intended). I know the importance of touch. It’s the first sense to develop in utero and the last sense to leave us. Touch conveys emotion, intention, support, and protection. Touch stimulates newborn development and healthy loving touch supports continued adult plasticity and functioning. Massage therapy should feel good. It’s a moment where a skilled practitioner uses their heightened sense of palpation to identify and address areas of internal stress on the body. A time dedicated to the person on the table, to help relieve pain, or to provide relaxation. Massage therapy is great, I really enjoy doing it and I really enjoy receiving it.
My approach to working with people as a massage therapist includes educating clients about the science of being human, how the body works, the connections between the brain and the body, and most importantly how to build awareness to empower people to address their unique selves. When people choose to work with me and trust me to work with them, it means I am valued for my skill, for my passion, my knowledge, and my ability to connect and help people.
Muscle + Bone has grown since I opened it three years ago. You can see the growth in the plants that are thriving in the open space and light of the clinic. It has developed into something that I am extremely proud of. I expanded my own understanding of human beings and discovered that touch therapy, while it does feel great, is not the only way of addressing pain and discomfort. In this past year, I began working more with clients off of the table, helping them to explore their movements and challenge their brains.
When we closed the clinic on March 16th, I had two yoga instructors who were getting ready to start working at Muscle + Bone, making it more of an integrative wellness clinic than simply a massage therapy practice. We were growing and exploring better ways to address and affect health and wellness.
It has been almost three months since we decided to close the clinic and stop seeing clients. I have had almost three months to consider when to reopen Muscle + Bone. I, along with my family, have come to the decision, that it is now time for me to close Muscle + Bone’s clinic location permanently.
It is not safe to give or receive bodywork right now. Science is slow and there has not been enough time to properly learn everything about the virus or how to effectively combat it. Scientists discuss a vaccine being made in the next year or two. Until the virus does not pose a life threatening risk to people (my immunocompromised husband included), I cannot in good conscience return to bodywork.
This was not an easy decision by any means, but it is the most realistic and right decision for myself and my family. I don’t mourn the loss of my identity as a massage therapist, because my identity as a healthcare provider is so much bigger. Muscle + Bone will continue online as Muscle + Bone: Embodied. I will be creating quality educational content that explores the human condition. I will create classes and a community to openly discuss topics with people interested in learning more about themselves and the world we live in. and I will continue to meet with people 1 on 1 but it will be online, until maybe one day again, it will be in person.
This pandemic has provided me with an opportunity to continue my education (applied neuroscience through slow movement yoga and narrative medicine communication), and I am comfortable and confident to move forward in this remote world and offer myself and my expanded treatment approach to people looking not only to reach their health and wellness goals, but also to those looking to live an embodied life.
I truly appreciate everyone that has supported me during my time as a massage therapist and as a small business owner. If you are someone who has purchased gift certificates or packages, I will contacting you directly. I look forward to continuing to help people navigate their experiences and become their best selves.
In health, Stephanie Devito