Podcast

Episode 351

Apr 27, 2021

Allissa has a conversation with Ben Brown about happiness, hybrid services, and so much more!

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EPISODE 351

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This episode is sponsored by the Tax Advantage. The Tax Advantage offers accounting and bookkeeping services, as well as income tax prep, payroll, and all sorts of services a business owner might need. Kim Padgitt has over 30 years of experience in the fields of taxes, accounting, payroll, and helping startups. Julie Pesek has been in accounting for over 15 years and joined the Tax Advantage when she saw that smaller businesses, just like ours were not being served at the larger firms. The Tax Advantage keeps their overhead low to offer competitive pricing for very small businesses. Their staff are certified QuickBooks experts and fluent in plenty of other bookkeeping systems, and they can help teach you that software so you can stay in control of your business. The Tax Advantage is perfect for our very small business, and you can learn more at massagebusinessblueprint.com/taxadvantage.

Allissa Haines:

Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Massage Business Blueprint podcast, where we help you attract more clients, make more money and improve your quality of life. And today we had a very special guest, Ben Brown. Hi Ben.

Ben Brown:

Hey, how are you?

Allissa Haines:

I'm so great. I'm so excited. You're here. Very briefly, let me say if he thinks about Ben and then I'm going to throw it to him to give his proper buyout. But Ben is a longtime massage therapist in New York, in the city, and also upstate, and I stumbled on his work a few years ago on Instagram. And a few of my friends were involved in a project that he was running, and I have since been super enchanted and a little bit jealous about the beautiful video and photography that you use in your marketing and your very clear voice on the work you do and how it can serve. And I have a ton of questions. But first Ben, tell me a little bit about your bodywork career and what your work life is like now.

Ben Brown:

Sure, sure. So, first off, thank you Allissa, for having me here. I'm really excited to be on your podcast. I'm actually a bit nervous because, this is such a great thing that you offer for our community. So thank you for this opportunity. I started out in bodywork close to 18 years ago now, which doesn't even seem that long. Like it feels like a long time, but it's kind of crazy. I was a graduate of the Swedish Institute, in 2004.

Ben Brown:

I then landed several different jobs in day spas, including a acupuncture and chiropractic practice, which is where I got sort of my roots, which is why I have a lot of medical massage in my background. And then I've moved from there to a spa where I was a lead therapist and a trainer. Actually opened up spas around the world. I did that for about 13 years for Bliss. And then a few years ago, I set out completely on my own where I have a private practice now in New York city and upstate New York.

Allissa Haines:

When you were traveling and training for Bliss, what was that like? Where did you go?

Ben Brown:

That was really cool. It was a totally unexpected thing. I happened to be at a really great time where the company was expanding at the time it was owned by Starwood hotel group, like W Hotels. And so we had spas across the country. So I always go to California, Texas, Chicago. My favorite ones obviously were the ones that took me to London, which was great. And then there was... When they opened up the spa in Barcelona, I ended up staying in Barcelona for a month because of some scheduling conflict. So I was only supposed to be there for like a week and a half, but some things got screwed up with the construction and rather than sending me back home and sending me back to Barcelona, they just said, "Well, you just stay there for a month." So-

Allissa Haines:

Oh that sounds terribly wrong.

Ben Brown:

... so that was really, really hard to do. But I did it for the team.

Allissa Haines:

And I'm totally I'm begging for information that's very old now, but what was that like to be in London and Barcelona? I mean, I think of what bodywork is like from friends who've traveled to Thailand and to different parts of Asia and all over, but like what's the bodywork like in Spain and England? And is it quantifiably different?

Ben Brown:

I don't think it's necessarily different. I think the one thing that I would say is, people tend to be more open in terms of what they're willing to learn or what they're willing to do. And there isn't so much satisfaction of like I do Swedish, I do medical, I do deep tissue. It was really what can I learn? How can I expand? How can I grow? And I think that, that is a really great place for therapists to be anywhere, like no matter where you are, but that's a really great mindset to have is like, what can I do? How can I bring new things into my practice? What excites me? It's what we're here about today. And so that was one of the things that I really appreciated was that they were very open and wanted to learn and do and figure out new ways to work.

Allissa Haines:

That's a whole other episode we're going to have to have one day about how the profession has become so siloed, and which is wacky to me because I think some of the more successful practitioners I know are the ones who have embraced so many different techniques and modalities and ideas and themes and blended them to create their own little thing. Anyhow-

Ben Brown:

Truth.

Allissa Haines:

... that's the whole thing. What did you do before massage?

Ben Brown:

Well, it's kind of funny. So prior to that, my professional life would have been just retail. That's really what... I was retail management for several companies. I had a really rough spot where I hated the people I was working for, I hated the job and just quit. Decided that I would spend six months trying to figure myself out. So I went fly fishing and kayaking a lot. And then somewhere in that process I was like, "Oh yeah, I wanted to do bodywork at some point."

Ben Brown:

And so I went back to that idea, figured out how to get to school, and then went to the Swiss Institute. But I have a degree in journalism actually. So that's kind of the funny thing. Like I have a degree that I've never used in any aspect, except for, I guess for my own writings and stuff. I guess in that sense it comes up when I'm now doing other things like trying to edit my own copy and what have you.

Allissa Haines:

I have a degree in political science and never did anything with it.

Ben Brown:

There we go.

Allissa Haines:

Work in a retail pharmacy. And I think retail is such a huge learning experience and I was never in a manager level, but, oh God, it's like I think everybody at some point in their life needs to work food service and retail, and it makes you a better human and a better hospitality specialist, which is what bodyworkers are.

Ben Brown:

No. It's funny you should say that because that is really, it's been a serious thought of mine for the longest time. Like I've watched in the time working at a spa and working with other practitioners when we're like in a collective, how many times people have shot themselves in the foot because they didn't have that experience of how to provide service for people, how to like... Because sometimes people conflate the idea of service and being a servant.

Ben Brown:

And there's a big difference between those two things. And so we are a service industry, and in that there are ways that we can really use that to our advantage, to really help clients. Like the idea that we make people feel more comfortable, that we create environments that people feel safe and they are able to relax, then enhances all your work.

Ben Brown:

It makes you as a practitioner that much better. If you're paying attention to what your space is or how people operate or how they move around the space, the flow of it affects how you as a practitioner will move when you're working. Like if you're stumbling over your things because you don't look at the flow of your room, that affects how effective you are with your clients.

Ben Brown:

Like if you have to reach for things, if you're not paying attention to how much time it takes you to get from the oil warmer over here and the body over there, it sounds silly. But that timeframe is either space that the person is like, what's going on or are you hearing this noise or what's happening. Or it's also time that you're not able to focus on that client keeping being centered. You're too busy thinking about getting to that thing, reaching for this and then coming back to them.

Ben Brown:

So there's a lot of ways that hospitality really enhances the work, because you are constantly thinking about how can I make this a better experience for this person. And in doing that, you're also being, which is very, one of my topics is being very present and being really client centered, in a way. So hospitality, I think you're absolutely right. I think it's one of the reasons why I've been successful as a practitioner is anticipating how do I make the best experience possible for the person on the table.

Allissa Haines:

Absolutely.

Ben Brown:

Or before they even get to the table.

Allissa Haines:

And now we have a whole other episode we're going to need to dive into at some point as well. So this could be a series with Ben Brown, whether he likes it or not folks. We're going to pause for a sponsor break, and then we are going to dive into Ben's topic. The Tax Advantage offers accounting and bookkeeping services, as well as income tax prep, payroll, and all sorts of services a business owner might need.

Allissa Haines:

The Tax Advantage keeps their overhead low to offer competitive pricing for very small businesses. Their staff are certified QuickBooks experts and fluent in plenty of other bookkeeping systems, and they can help teach you that software so you can stay in control of your business. The Tax Advantage is perfect for our kind of very small business and you can learn more at massagebusinessblueprint.com/taxadvantage.

Allissa Haines:

So Ben Brown, talk to us about how you ended up creating virtual services and maybe even some new and hybrid offerings to serve your clients. And I know that some of this was related to pandemic stuff and I have a feeling some of it was kind of in your brain anyway. So talk to us a little bit about the kinds of services you started providing when the world shut down.

Ben Brown:

Well, when the world shut down, I think we all experienced that in really traumatic ways. I mean, for me, it was the first time that I had not worked probably since I was a teenager. Like it was really, and it was huge and I didn't realize how hard it hit me, until maybe like the third or fourth week. And I realized that I was actually panicking. I was like, "How am I going to provide for my family and how am I going to make this work?"

Ben Brown:

And I don't think that I'm unique. I think every one of us as bodyworkers were in some sort of free fall trying to figure it out. And so I stumbled into things which was more about my own self control, my own self guidance. And when I would find myself stressing out and try and figure it out, I would literally go in the backyard, take my phone and start shooting small video clips of like the grass, bugs, trees, just these little micro moments.

Ben Brown:

And then I started posting them onto Instagram. And when I started getting feedback was like, "Oh my God, that's so beautiful. I love that. Oh it's really helping me relax. It's just giving me a moment of space." So that started as a catalyst of realizing that like using the micro as a way to deal with the macro, the bigger picture of the world was my own way of coping. But there was also other people like me that were in that same spot of needing something to cope with it.

Ben Brown:

And the reason I started with that is because I'm now doing those as like a conscious meditation piece that I'm offering to clients, that I'm offering to people. So if you go to my Instagram page, you can actually see these videos that I now create that people are using. And they've now designated as micro meditations. They're really between three and maybe 10 minutes because that's what the platform allows to be like little micro-meditations that are available to you, the public, anyone, as ways to self cope, open up the nervous system and create space to breathe.

Ben Brown:

I had been also learning sound practice, so sound healing for the last two years. And I was bringing it into the room, when I was one-on-one with people. But when I realized that I didn't have access to bodies anymore, I was like, "Well, what can I do to help my clients? What can I do to reach people? And of course, as a business owner, how can I earn money?" And so I started bringing my sound practice online, and offering virtual sessions to people where we were doing, either private or in small groups, virtual sound healing and using that as ways to help people calm the nervous system.

Ben Brown:

I think right now we're in a very heightened stress. I mean, I think it's always been there, but I think as a culture, as a society, we're really at a point where things are really pulling at the fabric of people, because of the lockdowns, because of the pandemic, because of the awakening to Black Lives Matter movement and the need for social justice. I think all these things which are important and need to happen and are happening also require us as wellness practitioners to find ways to reach people and help them that may not always allow us to be in person. So the virtual things of being able to offer sound was a way that I was able to do this with clients, and has opened up so many other doors for me in terms of how this is happening right now.

Allissa Haines:

I think, I saw at the beginning of all this when you were posting those little bits of like nature and micro-meditations, this is what we're calling them now. And it was so helpful to see things like that happen from a handful of providers and just other related people, because I felt like the first couple of months, any kind of connection required a lot of work on my part. People were doing like all these like, well, you can't see your friends. So they're doing these computer game nights where, there's 15 people on Zoom playing some Zoom monopoly or something.

Allissa Haines:

Or now we should do Zoom drinks on Friday nights. And like I wanted none of that. Like I'm not a hyper social person anyway, or really even a social person anyway. So I didn't have, and I still don't have, which I'm a little concerned about, like that longing to be around friends and family and stuff, but I needed something.

Allissa Haines:

I needed some level of connection to acknowledge that the world outside of my house was going through much of the same things as all of us inside my house. And that was so nice. And to see a handful of different providers start to offer that kind of, it was a gift to be given that moment to chill out without having any expectations of me or what I could handle. And for a lot of reasons, I like virtual services because I can take what I need from it and take what I can handle and then turn the screen off when I'm done, which is really nice.

Allissa Haines:

So thank you for that, because I think you were really among the first people to do that and it really set a tone, and that was really huge. You're still posting this stuff now in a more structured format and with some regularity I'm guessing. And how as clients have come back to hands-on practice, is it those same hands on clients or are they mentioning how these virtual offerings have helped them? And do you have people now who do hands-on and do your virtual stuff? How's that working? How's it blending?

Ben Brown:

So it's an interesting thing. I mean, my practice is open, so I am working. But the thing that's interesting is that actually I probably lost about 80% of my clients to the pandemic. A lot of my clients actually left the city, have moved to other places. This was a by-product, which I think is really important for us as therapists to think about how we can use social media, which is a different topic, but how we can use social media to reach people, to grow and to stay viable as well as also relevant. And so these videos actually what they did is they ended up opening up new doors. So when I was able to go back to practice, all these people who are benefiting from these videos who found some value to them in joy in them, have reached out.

Ben Brown:

And so I've actually have a new practice of sorts from people that I didn't work with before. And so it was a way that I actually have grown, which was totally unexpected. And people do use them on their own, in between sessions, in between actually coming together, which has been really wonderful too. I do, do sound practices. And it's funny because as I was preparing for this, I was thinking about like, what are the things that I've done?

Ben Brown:

It's funny because I actually feel like I haven't done anything. I always feel like I haven't done enough. I feel like a failure actually. If you really wanted to know what I was getting to, I feel like a failure, because of so many different things that I have done or want to do or haven't completed yet. But I have a service called Lush, which is basically a sound and bodywork practice.

Ben Brown:

And I was doing that initially with an acupuncturist she was doing Gua Sha facials on the person while I would do sound. And then I would do bodywork while she would do sound. And that has now led to me actually doing sound therapy with people where I'm actually working on their body using, and I should explain that because people are like, "What are you talking about?"

Ben Brown:

So the idea of using like singing bowls, chimes, tuning forks to really help the body to attune, either working with like shocker systems, working with the nervous system as ways to, one, create calm in the body and then also could build resilience and how we respond to trauma and stress. And so we can use sounds in a number of different ways to enhance our bodyworks.

Ben Brown:

I will use sound as a way to either open up parts of the body, or to subdue that crazy thinking mind that we have that doesn't want to shut down, so that then the person can really be more in tune with themselves and experience the bodywork as it's happening. And when you use sound in that way, you're able to actually notice that like on a very physical level, how the tonicity of the body will dissipate.

Ben Brown:

So people have this like this tension that they're holding onto, but once the mind shuts down, once the breath opens up, the body itself will follow that pattern. And so then you can find yourself doing deep work, but not having to do crazy deep work, like or hurting the person or hurting yourself. You're able to really move with the body because it actually is inviting you in.

Ben Brown:

So that's one of the ways that I've been able to shift and bring the virtual thing into the physical world, and then vice versa, because I also still do these virtual offerings. I have an offering that I've collaborate with another practitioner. So I do a sound bath once a month, called home. We just had one last week, which was, I have to be honest was my favorite one and we've been building and it just really felt like really in tune with how we were reaching the audience, or the attendees, I guess I should say.

Ben Brown:

And then I do one called elixir once a month, usually around the full moon with a Reiki practitioner. And she is just amazing. And so there's also that aspect of being able to collaborate with other people, which I had never done until the pandemic and figuring out how I can reach and make better offerings or more offerings to my clients.

Allissa Haines:

You touched on something with the sound therapy, allowing people to like more fully and you used tenacity, or what did you call the word? Like when someone fully unclenched clenches is what I call it.

Ben Brown:

I mean, and that's exactly what it is. Like we all have the stress level that we're holding on to. And generally, I mean, skip this down for a second. As bodyworkers, there's that moment when the person gets on the table and you're working with them and you're working with them and then like somewhere, maybe it's like around the 15 minute mark, like who knows. But there's a point you notice when all of a sudden like the brain shuts down and the body just relaxes and then you're able to really work with them. Sound is one of those things that really can help you get there much faster. And then you can use that sound too to get the person to drop in much quicker.

Allissa Haines:

It made me think that, there was a lot. I remember a couple of years into my career and I had client who was so fully able to just unconsciously let go. And I think it was probably the first time I had, had my hands on someone who was just so obviously letting go of any control, of anything was happening in his body. And I realized that there's these different levels. There's like someone who's on your table and they're noticeably a little bit stiff, they're a little clenched. And then there's people who can let that go and like "relax" and like let things drop. But there's still that like, you can tell that they have to consciously relax and consciously be less in control. And then there's like this full unclench, I call it where someone is just unconsciously able to drop.

Ben Brown:

Yes.

Allissa Haines:

And I feel like I've probably, once I learned that was a thing, once I really felt it and perceived it and realized on this client. And I think it was a client I worked on weekly for years, right up until the pandemic actually. And I think it was a couple of months in to working with him where I kind of, what is different? Some bodies are awesome to massage and some are a little more challenging.

Allissa Haines:

Someone's like shaped just perfect for the work you do or lays just perfect for the work you do. And then I realized like, no, it's just this, I like this work because this client can autom... Has through other training, I think become automatically able to completely unclench without me having to do anything. And then I realized that that's a thing I could encourage more than just the conscious relaxing.

Allissa Haines:

And it was huge. It was huge for me in my bodywork and the way it took my bodywork, the notion that there are things we can do along with massage, along with just our hands on work. It's so exciting to me doing the sound work online at a time where we couldn't touch people and be with people. I love that it brought you a whole new group of clients. And in turn a whole group of clients who were really excited about you doing this work in massage. Have you hit any obstacles with previous long-time clients who are just not into it?

Ben Brown:

Absolutely. I would say actually no. And more so because it's an offering and I think that's what we do. We bring new things and it's an offering. So there are clients that have no interest. And so it's not something I do. It's not like, oh you have to have this. It's an offering that I make. And matter of fact, I was very reluctant to even put it on my menu for lack of a better word. But I had people asking for it.

Ben Brown:

They're like, "Do you do sound? I see you're doing this. Are you going to do this in practice? Can you bring it in?" And so reluctantly, I put it on my actual menu of services, but originally it was literally just something that I was doing for probably like two or three months that were just for people who asked privately.

Ben Brown:

And it was like, "Hey, I saw it as. Can you do this for me?" And I'm like, "Yeah." "And can you do?" And so I was doing it that way. And now it's something that like if you go to book an appointment, you can actually see it. So it's not something that I bring it to every session, because I don't think it's for every person. And I think it's a matter of interest in how you work. I think as a bodyworker I was always trying to achieve that relaxation you were just speaking about or that you talked about, in other ways, even with just the playlist I would make. It was the, how do I? Sound for me is such an important thing. So that's my gateway, but it's always been my thing.

Ben Brown:

It's like, how do we find ways for people to settle in to be more relaxed, and to be more trusting? It's about, it all comes down at the end, it comes down to intention and trust. My intention as a practitioner to provide the best space for you to find your wellness and healing, or to allow me to manipulate your body in a way to move it in that direction. And so it's trust. But I mean, there's so many things that are available to us. I mean, I personally feel like right now, as bodyworkers, as practitioners that we should be thinking about how can I be happy in, and of myself in the work I do? And what does that mean to me in order to make that happen? What lights me up? So if you're a dancer, my thing is like, how do you bring more movement and dance into your bodywork?

Ben Brown:

How do you offer a service that allows people to have that? Maybe it's a more of a somatic practice where you're taking your clients through some movement before they actually get on the table to relax their body, or doing it afterwards to show them this is what the work we did today, and now look at how your body moves. And we can take that virtually too. I think all these things we can do it both ways. So you can take your clients to a virtual session of movement and then bring them in and start to work with their body and see all the stuff we've been doing online that you've been, small little classes or whatever, courses that we're doing together. Now see how your body is able to move. And now when we work on it, it's much easier to do these things to help itself correct.

Ben Brown:

I think if you're someone who is into lights and visualization, you can do visual things with your clients. You can walk them through a visual meditation or guided piece. You can do that virtually, or you can even do that before you start the session in person. I think we're at a really great time because we were challenged that I think we can expand what it is that we find exciting and what it is that we think is going to be more helpful for ourselves as practitioners more fulfilling, but at the same time, that's really going to service our clients. I think there's a lot of space, a lot of different things, in just thinking about how we... We always talk about aroma therapy as just like aroma therapy that. But why do aroma therapy in that context? Maybe you love flowers.

Ben Brown:

So maybe your room you should bring in flowers, like really bring in flowers and create a garden in your space. I don't know. I've seen people just do a lot of interesting things that lends to how you can [inaudible 00:27:03]. I know someone who, and I just know her peripherally through Instagram. I follow her. She's a massage therapist. It seems like to expand her business, she's brought in a barber to support the business.

Ben Brown:

She works with military and she is providing services to military guys. And now she's brought in someone who's doing hairstyling and barbering skills. Like there are lots of things that we can do in pair and collaborate. It's really up to you to think about it, but don't limit yourself. And also don't find yourself caught out there again, if we have something that really shifts how, and the ways you can work. Like don't limit yourself.

Ben Brown:

I think this is really the one thing that, not the one thing. It's many things I learned actually from the pandemic itself. But that is one of the things I learned is not to limit myself and to really think about what fulfills me. Like I don't want to go back to working the way I did prior to. I want to keep thinking about what it is that excites me and moves me forward.

Allissa Haines:

I will have a practical question. And then I want to dive into some stuff I've just been wondering about. You mentioned that you added this to your menu. Do you charge more to add sound or certain things into your services or do you just charge like by time?

Ben Brown:

It's a combination of both. So the sound when I added the sound and I definitely added an additional cost. I mean, for me it's two thing. It's definitely, it's more work in terms of how you work and that idea of hospitality and service providing. Like there's more finagling. The bowls themselves are heavy. So it's definitely more of that. So I do charge more. But in general I don't charge for like, so if you're coming for a Swedish and you're coming for a deep tissue, to me they're the same. And so I just charge one price and then that since then it's more about time. Because I think ultimately our idea is how do you... For me it's when I'm doing bodywork is how do I work most effectively to affect a change in the body and to promote wellness?

Ben Brown:

And so that might mean in a session that you came for a Swedish relaxation, that at some point I'm going to start doing some deep work. That's just how I am. And it also means if you're looking for a deep tissue, yeah, that's going to be the predominant work. But guess what? There are going to be moments that are going to be strictly like soft and chill, because what I'm looking at is how is your body responding? A lot of times people think they want deep work, but what they're really looking for is they want to be connected and they want effective work. And sometimes the body actually wants you to whisper it to it. It doesn't want you to yell at it. It wants you to whisper and just be really quiet, and once you do that, then it's like, wait, oh, oh wait, I can hear you.

Ben Brown:

And then it actually will just relax on its own because it's listening and you're having this conversation, you're having this dance together. And so to me, those things are about the time and I'm going to bring my skillset and everything that I know to make the work happen. So sometimes I'll leave and move into energy work without planning on doing energy work, because it's not even about a light touch. It's really about how do I shift the energy in the body to let it relax and open up. So I work in a lot of different ways. It's actually, sometimes it's really hard to even describe it when people are like, "Well, what do you do?" And it's like, "I do what it takes to help you move into the next space."

Allissa Haines:

I don't think anybody can accurately describe good bodywork or because one good is different for everyone, but also like a lot of the work we do just isn't definable. Again, I think-

Ben Brown:

Yeah.

Allissa Haines:

... that's okay. All right. So you talk a lot about presence in your work, and in the video, like when I land on your website, which we will give a link to everyone, there's a video. The first thing I can see is like hit play on a video. And in that video, which by the way, my kids watched and loved too. We all watched it together the other day. I had to pause and write this down because you talk about how you say, "The idea of being present and being in the moment I think that's where you actually get the most success. Those moments, even if you're just walking along and you look at a flower and you stop, in that moment you recognize a flower and its beauty and that's what's happening in bodywork in that time. You're actually bringing the mind to right there, the present moment, and that allows the person to find some peace."

Allissa Haines:

And that the last part especially, allows the person to find some peace was, I watched it a few times and thought about it for a few days. So how as a practitioner, and when I started massage like 16 years ago was crazy type A. Like I was a type A, which was perfect for working in a retail pharmacy, not so much for being in a massage room at the time. And since I started, I've really worked on calming myself and being in the moment.

Allissa Haines:

And I don't have problems in that I'm composing grocery lists in my head or to do lists or anything. I'm there, I'm in the massage, but my brain, the challenge for me is that probably some of that hospitality element where I'm like, "Did the client hear the door slamming at the other side of the office? There's a dog barking. Is the table too warm? Is the room too cold? Does the air conditioner vent blowing directly on them? Is this pillow not in the right place? Do I need to adjust the bolster?" That's where I am in a massage. So I always have questions for people. How do you get okay at being in the moment? Have you ever found it challenging to calm down the monkeys in your head and how does that work for you?

Ben Brown:

So I think it's a really good question and I think part of that is personal. Like I think everyone's going to. But my first thought is all those things that you were just identifying, I would actually spend my time prior to eliminating as many of those conflicts as possible. For me, that's how I would address it because I have those same thoughts too, as far as hospitality.

Ben Brown:

So like the temperature, the comfort, the pillows, the noise of the doors, all those things I would definitely have in mind. And so I would try to eliminate as many of those things initially before it starts. That's just how I work. But then there's this other thing that I think happens is that when I'm focused on the person, like I'm really focused on them, I feel like I'm able to tap into like knowing when or how things are working or how they're being received.

Ben Brown:

Because I get that same thing that we have that ability, the same way we read the body in terms of the depth of the pressure of the work, we can also read the body in terms of how they're being affected by the environment. And it's a certain sensitivity, like sometimes I'll just know like you just, and I think we all hear it. I just don't think we always pay attention to it. But you'll know like, oh, this music is a little too loud, or, oh, the temperature's not quite right. So I think for us, it's like reading the body and looking for as many clues as possible that there a conversation that the body's constantly telling us that we can pick up on those things.

Ben Brown:

It's just like when you enter a room, you immediately know who's the safe person. You can feel that. I think that as practitioners, and I'm not saying I came to this immediate. I think probably like you I've came to it over years, and trying and constantly trying, that our heart really guides a lot of this work and creates that space that we have that communication where words aren't always necessary.

Ben Brown:

But I'm always looking at how I can be a ninja in the room, like I don't want to be heard, I don't want to be known. I really want that person to feel that they can float. That's going back to that whole idea of how they can deeply relax. Like if they feel that they are in a completely safe space, which is what I'm always trying to figure out how to do, which does mean eliminating the slamming doors or any other distraction, how do I do that? How do I create a space that people can totally drift and be there?

Ben Brown:

I think it's really important. I think these are the things that we don't talk about as practitioners that really affect how we are effective in our work. How do we relate to clients in ways that doesn't require us to like pester them or talk to them, but that we can understand what's happening with them on a deeper level, where it's more like our consciousness at reaching each other? I know this is slightly out there, but that's how I look at some of these things in terms of that.

Ben Brown:

And so for me, when I was in that video, I was talking about how we can be present, it's because I think, and I've experienced it. I think that's where magic happens. That's why it's about that. It's like, how do I create magic for this person that's on the table? How do I create a situation that allows them to really recognize not only the healing, but really the beauty of themselves, the beauty of their body, the beauty of having a body.

Ben Brown:

And that's why, earlier what I would say about why it's important for us as practitioners to have the idea of creative expression, what lights us up, what makes us want to do what we do and bringing that into the room, that's what that's about. Like it really is about the art of bodywork. Because it is. I think what we do is artistry. And so, I think it's important that we recognize that and really embody that ourselves.

Allissa Haines:

I think in a lot of ways, it's easy to not talk about that aspect because sometimes it's so hard to talk about that aspect.

Ben Brown:

Yes.

Allissa Haines:

And that's a big deal.

Ben Brown:

And also, I mean, part of our practice as medical professionals is that it's medical and it's clinical. And so because it's medical and clinical, we don't always feel the license to speak this way or to experience that or to express it. I don't think that I'm special in that context. I think that, like you said about what's good bodywork. I think that people that are good bodyworkers are doing this. They just may not express it. They don't feel like they can say it. There are things that happen when I work that I have been blown away by and literally brought to tears of what's happening, and not because of anything of me, but that I, and this other being we're co-creating an experience that was helpful and healing for them and in turn healing for me.

Ben Brown:

I mean, I think that was also part of what I was feeling back in the pandemic, when everything shut down, that I didn't realize I was going through a grieving process, that I was not doing what I do. I was not working and helping and servicing people. And so I found myself, literally like breaking down and I didn't understand what it was. And I think that's-

Allissa Haines:

Yap.

Ben Brown:

... kind... Yeah. That's kind of what was happening going. And I had to go, that's why the video, like those things was like, how do I connect to the beauty and the creativity that's in all of us? And I was doing that every day in the room, working with clients. And then all of a sudden I didn't have that. And so

Allissa Haines:

I felt... I'm sorry.

Ben Brown:

No, no, please.

Allissa Haines:

I felt, and I think I wrote about it and for all the business advice and information, we provide the things that get the most hits, or when I blather about my feelings. I felt for a couple of months, like I had completely lost the best version of myself. Like I think I am the best human I will ever be when I am in the massage room and I am doing a good thing, when I am doing my thing. That is the best, kindest, gentlest, most thoughtful, compassionate, smart version of myself in every way. And it was gone. It was gone for months and it broke me and it took a couple months for it to break me, but it broke me. And once it did, I was okay. Because once I recognize that's what was going on. But there was an, I think still is a huge grief involved in that, that we're all going to figure it out eventually.

Ben Brown:

Absolutely. I think it's important that we acknowledge it and I also think it's important that we feel it and express it, but also realize that there's more. I mean, that was one of the things that I wanted to convey is that there's more. Like what I lost was definitely devastating, but then there were all these other things that I gained in the process of trying to figure it out. And even the pandemic itself, as we're still experiencing it, I don't want to go back because parts of what I experienced, which I had never shut down to such a degree. I had never rested to such a degree. And I spent more time with my family in those six months than I had in probably 10 years.

Ben Brown:

Which is really sad to say that. But that's the truth of it. The way we work, the way we have to do in order to make things happen. And so my whole push is as the world is opening up, which is why I really want us to understand it. As the world is opening up, we need to, as bodyworkers be doing the thing that is most nourishing for us as humans and individuals, while still trying to maintain and grow a business.

Ben Brown:

So I don't want to go back to doing four days a week in the city. I ended up opening up a practice upstate as well. Like I need to earn still, but you know what, I need to be closer to my family. So I'm doing that. I'm looking at like the virtual offerings, like how can I still really help people connect and heal and yet still be in my home? So like there are times I'm able to do sessions, literally in my tiny little office with my sound equipment all around me, and yet I'm still doing good in the world. And so it's really important for us, I think to look at how we go back to working and what that means for us, and to be really mindful of that.

Allissa Haines:

I feel very much the same way and that I hadn't rested in 20 years. I hadn't, and it was good to be forced to do that. And I'm the same in that, when I went back to practice, I have gone back to practice in a very different way with a very different schedule and an entirely new office and with much less responsibility and liability involved in the work I'm... Not just the work I'm doing, but I used to run a big office and now I don't, which is really nice. This was so much, and we're going to have to do a whole series. I'm so excited.

Ben Brown:

I'm in.

Allissa Haines:

Tell us, where can people find more you and more about your work?

Ben Brown:

Yes. I would say actually the easiest way to find me and to get the like bigger things that are happening in the moment is on my Instagram. So it's Hand and Temple or hnd_tmpl. And then if you wanted to go to my website, which I'm actually redoing because I'm really experiencing change, is handandtemple.com. That's my website. So if people are looking to connect to me, that's where it's there. But the most up-to-date fun stuff is on Instagram.

Allissa Haines:

It really is people. Thank you. Thank you for doing this. This is huge. And we'll just start making a checklist of things that we're going to cover in the future.

Ben Brown:

Fair enough.

Allissa Haines:

Everyone, if you have questions or you have guest suggestions, please email me at mas- at, what is it? podcast@massagebusinessblueprint.com. Yep. I do this for a living. Feel free to visit the website for all of our previous podcast episodes. And I am going to put a link up as well to Ben's Spotify playlist, which are really, really, really good. Thank you again, Ben.

Ben Brown:

Thank you.

Allissa Haines:

Thank you everyone for listening and have a wonderful day.

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