Inspirational PetMassage Instruction
In my opinion, a good instructor must always present the course content as if it were in an engaging conversation. The energy of the learning experience must be alive. Moving with the breath. Vibrant. Every moment must feel–must be–fresh and spontaneous. In my view, even the most obvious and mundane elements of PetMassage are fascinating to the point of quivering when I think about them. I’m such a passionate believer. My goal is to instill the same sense of reverence in the PetMassage process.
Keeping It Real And Relevant
During workshops I listen carefully to what my students ask and respond, honoring them, and respond, speaking from my heart. I draw inspiration from my life experience for illustrations. That’s my preferred way to teach. The content is relevant because it is delivered in a way that addresses real, verbalized, concerns. The workshops become more friendly conversation than lecture. I’m engaged. The students are engaged. We are all getting our needs met.
It would be insane to attempt to teach the same workshop to every class. Every workshop group has different questions, needs, experience levels, and topics of conversations. Every group’s journey is unique.
Each student attends with his/her unique set of experiences, perspectives, gifts, dreams, goals, and expectations. Everyone’s journey is unique.
I used to be concerned when I went off-script. Now, the fun part for me, as the instructor, is to watch to see how it all unfolds. It all rolls out as it should. And everything I want to share makes its way into the program in its own time and in its own way. The instruction is always fresh.
The PetMassage™ Message Is Non-linear
Over the years I’ve read remarks in our PetMassage™ workshop evaluation forms that my teaching style is nonlinear. It’s true. Since I have taught the workshops so many times, I have achieved the level of security that I can relax and enjoy the show as all the course content that needs to be disseminated, gets shared.
PetMassage™ is not a linear skill set. While there are specific manual, body mechanics, and dog handling skills we must master, and philosophical, anatomical and physiologic components we need to know, there is no rigidly specific form that can be repeated with each dog. Every dog is different and has a unique set of needs. Some dogs stand quietly accepting touch; others spin and dance.
Students must learn lots of different skills, including self awareness and self control, and choose which ones to use and which ones not to use, when appropriate.
True bodywork is a relationship. It’s a spontaneous communication, a dialogue, in which both the practitioner and the dog strive together to create a semblance of balance and function. Standardization, orthodoxy of form, can get in the way of massage. When the intention is to be responsive to a living breathing being, restricting yourself to a predetermined program makes your connection simply too stiff and too contrived. The exercise becomes giving the massage, not massaging. It becomes work ON the dog rather than WITH the dog.
During this most recent class I felt the need to talk about my style. I think I had to clarify to myself how and why I so readily go off on stories and tangents. I learn a lot about the process of teaching in these workshops, too.
I heard myself say: while I’m speaking I may have an idea that will enhance or illustrate the topic. For too long I used to ignore it. And, too often, by the time I got around to retrieving it to incorporate it into the discussion, it was gone. Forgotten like a morning dream.
Listen To The Muse
Where did the thought come from? The random thoughts are important. They are valuable. There is reason and method that I tap into, even when
I’m not conscious of it. My memories float to the surface from various depths within my memory reservoir. Sometimes they combine unrelated concepts that I had heard, absorbed, assimilated, and formed entirely new creative constructs. Wherever their sources, they are strong enough to knock on the door of my consciousness. They say, “Hey! Pay attention. This is something that might be interesting.”
I refer to them as messages from my muse; my higher, or alternative, self. Now, rather than dismiss these off-subject thoughts as irrelevant, or worse, inconsequential, I honor them. I embrace them. My guides provide guidance that makes each class unique, interesting, and can we say: amusing?
Whatever stories, examples, and jokes I tell in my seemingly random stories, must drive the narrative of canine massage instruction. I am always aware that everything I say and do, like every touch and stroke in a PetMassage, is purposeful.
This Is Dedicated To The Ones I Love
I consciously maintain a dedication to excellence in creating a superior teaching experience.
I never know what I’m going to say or how I’m going to say it until it enters my head and leaves my mouth. My students tell me they enjoy my unfiltered comments and my “Dad” humor. We are all entertained. There is filtering, though. I have lots and lots of off color suggestions; my guides can get pretty bawdy and socially inappropriate, so I observe the 5 second rule to self-censor; and only engage and expand on thoughts that I sense are kind and loving.
Lesson From My Youth
Here’s an example of listening to an off-script suggestion. In the 20 years that I’ve been teaching PetMassage™ workshops this is the first time I had recalled and shared this little vignette from my past. All this time, it’s been hiding somewhere in my tangled web of memories; waiting for the right time and place, and in the right context, to emerge.
We were learning about the messages we send as vibrations within touch. I described a memory from when I was very young, perhaps 5 years old. While visiting my grandparents in their small walk up apartment in Cleveland, one of my grandfather’s friends clasped his hands over my ears and said something to someone nearby. It appeared as if he were covering my ears so I couldn’t hear him. Actually the sound transferred so clearly it was as if I were wearing headphones. He winked at me as we shared our secret that I had heard every word he said. He knew, and demonstrated to me with this trick, that his voice, the vibration of his voice, traveled through his hands into my ears.
That lesson from long ago still resonates. It demonstrates that there is so much more to what we project through our palms than simply pressure. Everything we say, the patterns of our heartbeats, the depth and rate of our breaths, and even the vibrations of our thoughts, all flow through our hands. It is all experienced loud and clear by our dogs.
Inspirational PetMassage Instruction
PetMassage messages, PetMassage Helpful Hints, and PetMassage instruction through workshops, books, DVDs and website downloads, are brought to you – and me – by our friendly neighborhood a-muse-ing higher-man.