The Beginners Mind

Beginner’s Mind

I’ve spent many years teaching and slamming up against intellectual blocks from students and failures from my end to adequately explain and brand/market my work. I got a message the other day and it was simple enough.

Do you teach orthopedic massage?

I gave a calm beneficial response but like usual I sit and go, “what?” Why all these labels and challenges related to something so simple that it’s common to all of human anatomy and physiology? To take it further my friend’s pets, cats and dogs mainly, love me because I massage them with the same enthusiasm because well, we evolved on the same planet from mammals and have very similar nerve endings and biological parameters.

I just looked up orthopedic to get a definition: relating to the branch of medicine dealing with the correction of deformities of bones or muscles.

I’m not sure it fits what I do but Thai massage came and went. Before you draw too many conclusions understand that I have the most documented bodywork practice likely in history. I wrote 4 workbooks, consisting of 700 pages of sequence manuals and 9 dvds of core content to…get students started. I then went on to record every class I’ve taught since 2017. That’s another 800 hours of footage, much of which is sampled across my social media.

As business grew, no one compared Thai massage to orthopedic massage. Students when I made my first specific issue course, carpal tunnel relief, declared that it was all “sciency.” ? Huh? When I looked at it I suspect they saw me take out anatomical drawings, talk about nerve and cardiovascular supply but isn’t that what everyone does? Don’t we as bodyworkers think about those things as we’re working?

I was told long ago that my work was not Thai. When pressed they declared, “it’s not Thai unless the theory is Thai.” My retort was that if the theory is Thai it’s based on thousands of years old outdated information, refuses to update itself and doesn’t work outside of a Thai cultural framework. I taught work that was common to all of humanity not people from a single geographic location. My work was global.

Ok I don’t teach Thai massage. Cool. Next.

I filed a trademark for Reboot. After a 3 year wait and much consternation the trademark was declined. Everyone around me wailed and gnashed teeth while I, who’d paid thousands of dollars, just said, “we’ll repackage and pick a new name. It’s window dressing.”

So here we are. Still debating what xyz is and of all the moments I’ve seen, when students complain that it’s not fair that I have to wait for a trademark review don’t seem to understand is that the engine of my work is hard to build. The paint job? That’s easy.

When I first talked about reboot in a class, a student, who was a teacher at a school but very open to my ideas started chanting, “reboot! reboot! reboot!” I was slack jawed in amazement. They’d never chanted Thai massage. Why?

Brand is an amorphous challenging thing. Having spent likely 10k on lawyers and paperwork over the years I’ve come to look at the idea and concept regularly. The above is what I really do.

What a good trademark does isn’t explain what you do but create beginners mind. 🙂

Next Level Pain Relief™

It’s a pain relief and mobility service. It’s not even massage.

Thai massage though beneficial as packaging to a point presented it’s own challenges and problems both for myself and students. Thai massage is to me a misnomer. Nuad boran that’s another story. 🙂 To this day, I can’t just explain what I do because they’re so busy comparing it to this or that other style of work. I’m told that what I’m doing is foolish. Just like I wrote in my first Thai massage workbook, I honor the teachers who’ve come before me but it’s time to push forward with confidence.

Name changes? Oh no worries. I can make up a word if this trademark fails and we’ll keep working at it til it sticks.

What do I teach? It’s some of the best science informed specifically pain relieving manual therapy in the marketplace. I accept none of my society’s social conventions or norms. I deliver work to people in pain to help them with common sense and a large dose of humor.

Argue amongst yourselves about whether it’s orthopedic. Argue about whether it’s Thai massage or yoga or yoga therapy. For years when I bring it to the massage community, they stand agasp at my mat and insistence on better body mechanics from mat based work. They announce, “this isn’t massage.”

I agree.

It’s Next Level Pain Relief™

I take the work into a yoga studio, everyone loves it and raves but then the studio owner looks over at what I see as massive potential and says, “I don’t understand. This isn’t yoga.”

Neither community I draw from actually seems to Want what I teach. You’re right! It’s not yoga.

It’s Next Level Pain Relief™

Well what the hell is that? The sessions are mat based only. They’re 2-4 hours long and we focus on client’s capacity for mobility and reducing pain using active and passive techniques to unwind tension, induce relaxation and change lives.

Massage is table, cream, glide and nudity.

Next Level Pain Relief™ removes the table. Removes the cream. Removes the glide. Removes the nudity.

It’s coming to a city/state and locale near you. Anyone on earth can study with me for $7 a month.

Why Businesses Fail

I spend lots of time doing what increasingly looks like consulting. My presumption is that you become a consultant just by doing things becoming successful and then realizing that an increasing amount of your time is spent assisting others in the pitfalls of their doing the same.

Spending time talking to colleagues and clients I pondered to some who are more successful, “have your friends changed as your business grew?” Across the board all of them say yes. My friends and colleagues who get these conversations are much like me. Most are engaged in some small business or entrepreneurial venture and rarely are they doing 9 to 5 jobs.

A local yoga studio is having major financial issues. I heard about it via email and can’t say I was completely surprised as having spoken to the owner previously I’m not sure why anyone would want to do business with him. He contacted me because someone had come to Thai massage jam® and raved about the event insisting he had to host us.

He asked me what we should do and I layed our a clear succinct plan and before I could finish he said, “I want 50%.” I asked him, “50% of what? What haven’t even discussed what you’re willing to do.” He was rude. He criticized my attempt at a trademark for Reboot (which we did later lose by the way) and overall I was very unimpressed with his demeanor. After all, you called me. I didn’t approach your uppity studio.

Over time many and when I say many I mean most of the businesses around me have gone under. It’s been an amazing process to see the inside of businesses and wonder, “why don’t they make this better?” only to be criticized at every turn by management. I do look like the dude from the Big Lebowski but over time I’ve developed a keen sense of vision.

A friend was asking me how my business developed. How did I do what I’d done and what was the vision. I told him that I’d moved from La to Tx and was excited to get a job at a chiropractor’s office. That meant medical right? Well..sorta. I discovered very quickly that instead of treating me like a colleague and training me to do better work they just looked at me as an underling. I was some lowly massage therapist who didn’t know anything and my dreams of working in the medical setting were dashed. I’d already tried all the spas in Baton Rouge and been fired from most of them after having reviews from clients saying it was the best massage they’d ever had.

I worked at a nonprofit in Austin who will for this blog post remain nameless. I fell into it and the executive director saw something in me and asked me to be a volunteer coordinator at their facility. The pay was low and I had to ask what it even was but when I realized I could work in a non corporate entity and do some good in the world he just explained that I had to find resources find people and get them to help clean up improve and move the non profit forward.

Most of my time in the next two years was spent doing things I’d no clue about. I had absolutely no background in this at all. My job? Get it done.

I scoured craigslist for free items we needed. I made phone calls to contacts to see if we could find xyz accountant or volunteer to help with interior design. We began installing a garden I got free mulch from the city (it was easier for them and less $$$ to drop it at our facility instead of driving outside of town to dump it.) Slowly the place changed.

We found out at some point that the guys who clean garbage off of the highway could do their volunteer work at our facility. Next thing I knew 13 guys with wheelbarrows, shovels and tools came in and mowed grass cleaned the grounds disposed of trash organized our shed and moved mulch.

At one point we had 10 or more dumptrucks of free mulch and the contact for the roadside trash guys had scheduled them once a month for 4 months in a row. We altered the facility to the point where trouble brewed.

I’d done so much with so little for so long that it was having an effect on the facility. The executive director and others didn’t like the influence and sway I was having with the place. It was “their” vision not mine. I, in time, got fired.

It was a weird loss but I’d learned so much and one of the things I’d learned was to be completely creative learn for myself, research and get stuff done. Not only could I see the big picture. I could execute and make a series of steps to get us where we needed to be.

When I poured myself back into massage work I got a job at a small chiropractors office but this time they left me alone. So long as the clients liked the work I was gold. I started blending table Thai into my sessions and clients raved about all the “stretching stuff” I was doing. Eventually I put in a mat but more importantly I had a stable solid constant 12 hours a week. The rest of the time? That was mine.

I’ve been in my industry for 17 years. I look over at my coffee table and there are 700 pages of sequence manuals in Thai massage 9 dvds to go with it and when those were finished I realized I wasn’t close to done. Where’s the yoga? Where’s the trigger point work? Where’s the pain science? Where’s the breathing and pranayama?

I was teaching successfully and had created infrastructure for distribution but we had more to teach. Seeing how we were delivering content I spent the last 2 years recording every class uploading it and allowing students access for $7/month. Seems simple right? 🙂

17 years in and we’re not even close. The subscription vault is going to wind up being well over 1k hours of video instruction and I keep responding to students needs in our private facebook group. The outsiders keep saying, “but you can’t teach online.” Every time I hear that I can hear the sounds of cash registers going off like in the song Money by Pink Floyd.

No one gets it..yet. At least none of those except those who are subscribed. They keep beaming at how much money they’re making how their clients are improving and how much easier the work is on their bodies. After they tell me the hundreds of extra dollars their making in a day I ask, “how do you now feel about your $7/month investment?”

A local school asked me to give a talk on social media marketing to potential massage therapists. I was told that I could not film my own talk. I was giving it for free. I can’t film? My own social media discussion?

All of these businesses and their models are doomed.

This is not the marketing of 2019. It’s barely the marketing of 1985. I decided long ago that the most fun was doing as much as possible with absolutely nothing. I created what I’ve done nearly out of thin air and still run my business out of my garage.

What I’d learned at that non profit was that I could organize people. I could encourage people. I could create resources that others couldn’t figure out they had and do things enough with them to interrupt status quo and in fact make people angry because I could do so much with so little.

When I applied that to business? My own business? I’d adopted impermanence. Spiritually and in commerce. It changes and I became a cork. What’s this? It’s twitch. Let’s stream there for free.

My willingness to grow adapt develop and respond to my clients and students needs has propelled me to the upper tiers of my industry. I’m still in the trenches working but noticed recently that something had shifted. I’m working on investing now and not laboring as much. It doesn’t mean I don’t labor it just means that I’m regularly buying other people’s time to build things that expand since I simply cannot do it all.

I felt for a second like I was getting soft but I realize it’s not the same game anymore. I’ve already created the foundation now we’re pouring gas on the fire I built and I’m standing by smiling with a match.

Where will things go? I’m not really certain. My guess is until I’m dead many many people will completely shift their idea of what massage and bodywork is and far more will be helped than people consider possible.

I had a class in Dallas recently and of the 11 students maybe 3 had seen me before in video maybe on facebook groups. Take that 1/4 of people. Amplify that by every major city in the US and you see the larger picture.

Business itself is of huge interest to me. It’s a toy. It’s a way of helping people and providing them value and far too often I see businesses getting away from their core offers spending too much time talking about money. Money is how we keep score and we can’t invest more than we can earn and refill out tanks but long term business is about intimacy and connection.

If I sell burritos I want the customers to know that every grain of rice was tended to knowing it was intended for my fans. That care comes through and it’s much larger than money but leads to lots and lots of money. I regularly tell people much of my business sense comes from Phish and the Grateful Dead to quizzical looks.

The bottom line is I provide live public interaction and I don’t care if someone records the show. The next one will be different. What about trade secrets? Trade..secrets? I mash on people for a living. It is its own art and I’ve no wish to disparage it but in the end when people film what I do I’m held accountable for what I do and people get a chance to see you shine. Warts and all is the philosophy.

What the fans wind up seeing is someone they resonate with and who’s willing to be authentic and actually care about the customers he’s serving. How many businesses do that?

The ones that survive and continue and thrive? All of them will do that.

After all this time we’re still a blip on the radar of an old aging industry. People an hour away from my city have no idea who I am.

No one knows what we’re doing. My industry is barely paying attention. I’m pouring gas.

and I just struck a match. 😀


I wanted to update you on the goings on in my business and labor of <3. I want my dealings to be transparent, it's important to me that my customers, clients and students understand that I'm giving you all I'm capable of. Things are growing rapidly and as things develop my schedule tightens and my responsibility to myself and to you grows. Here are some things to keep in mind: 1) My business grows because of you. When you like and share my posts, photos and events on social media that helps my business grow. When you refer clients/students that's a Huge boost for the healing work we do. Your reviews on yelp, google and the like are 21st century word of mouth and I appreciate your time. Thank you for your continued support.
2) My fees for Thai massage sessions go to $160.00/session on March 1st. These sessions are 2 hours minimum.
3) Classes for Thai massage are growing and I will be traveling in coming months to work with students in other cities in TX so my availability is limited.
4) I’m working on numerous projects to allow you to get work at a reduced fee. I have general pain clinics coming and also some for specific issues like migraines and chronic headaches. In addition I’m having short weekly classes teaching Thai massage at Blue Honey Yoga in addition to the Free Thai massage jam.
5) If you need inexpensive education there’s the previously mentioned Thai massage jam, a Free Intro. to Thai massage workbook, a soon to be 140+ page Table Thai workbook and videos of the Intro. to Thai massage class available for download for $29.99 My youtube videos are full of info and are also free.
6) Yoga classes 1.5 hours and cost $10.00/class. 😀

My utmost concern is serving the public and making sure you can get the bodywork you need. I cannot provide that if I’m overworked. I need time to rest, time for yoga and time with my family. I’m my own boss so any healthcare (no Real health insurance at the moment), retirement, mortgage, debt etc. falls on me. I can only honestly and impeccably provide 20 hours or so of hands on Thai massage sessions in a week. It’s unreasonable to ask my body for more than that and that’s why session fees must go up.

I communicate extensively though social media. If you have questions related to health and bodywork issues let me know. I provide information for free constantly. I love educating people but must charge for my labor.


Social Media

I’ve been working with social media for several years now to get my message about Thai massage and yoga out to the public. With this website, blog, facebook, twitter and youtube I’ve slowly become an army with people starting to pay attention. My last Intro. to Thai massage class I had a student ask me to teach a marketing class for massage therapists. Internally, I just palmed my face.

Marketing? I don’t know anything about marketing. My class was full though. I thought about it. Wait, I didn’t pay for any advertising and I have a full class. How did I do it? I had great marketing. 😛 Marketing isn’t what most think it is. Want to see? This is where I started. I had a $400 laptop and a $100 flipcam and was still wondering what twitter was.

Students, peers and friends if you want to excel in business go with your heart. Choose something that excites and inspires you. Interact with your clients and everyone you meet with everyone’s best interest. Share you love…ceaselessly.

In the 21st century your business is only as strong as your social network.


At work recently I walked in to a name I recognized, a face I recognized but I couldn’t put the two together. If I’ve had a busy few weeks this isn’t uncommon. Client after client with back pain or some issue starts to blend particularly if we’ve not had extensive conversation that allows me to get to know the person I’ve worked on.

When I said hello the client they looked at me fondly and said, “the new love of my life.” I blushed lightly, looked at my boss and she said, “I think she likes your work Robert.” I giggled and mentioning it to my boss later and she said I’d be surprised how many marriage proposals she’s gotten over the years.

Talking with the client afterwards, it turns out I’d done what for me is fairly standard, Thai massage or as some call it Thai Yoga massage on the table with a new client. She’d been having low back problems and the work is so beneficial it’s my go to in the tool box. Discussing her pain scale she explained to me that if 10 meant you were going to the hospital and 0 was no pain she was at about a 7 when she saw me. The following morning she felt like she was under a 1. That much pain relief will get you some loves.

She’d read some of the blog here, purchased a Ma roller and told all her friends. I adore having honest expressions of appreciation but other than a nice tip after your session nothing spells appreciation like referrals. In the business of bodywork I don’t find that ads draw people in. Much like a hairdresser there is something intimate about working with someone, one on one, on their body in some caring way. Most people ask other people who they go to. They don’t as commonly look up random names in a phone book like they would for plumber.

A referral does something that I cannot do. It tells someone that my work is good by someone who’s had it. Anything I say about my skills or caring nature isn’t matched by that of a pleased client with friends who’ll make an appointment based on those conversations alone. When that new person comes in they’re already relaxed, after all their friend had a positive experience, why shouldn’t they? In my line of work nothing works as well. No print ad, mailer with a coupon or blog article I write will have as much of an effect as when a friend says they have pain in their low back and someone announces, “You should go see Robert.”

Another thing that impressed me about the interaction with the client is they were engaged in their healing process. Not only did they make a semi-regular appointment for several weeks but they purchased the massage tool the Ma roller to engage in self care. The work we do is healing and in a culture with a lack of physical touch just that alone is therapeutic to people. The best care is active and passive, from working on yourself and from allowing others to help you. Nothing in my experience is as healing as your own focus and care then allowing a nurturing therapist to assist you in that healing process. It’s far better than just working on yourself. You’re not alone in your quest.

Tips are another area that spell appreciation. When a tank of gas costs $50+ these days it makes an impression not only financially but energetically. The fact that a client gives me more than the asking price tells me they value our time and interaction enough to want to keep me around. If you worked in a restaurant do you remember the patrons who tip well? Same if you’re a bartender? One thing I learned long ago if I was drinking hard liquor the bartender got a large tip right up front. The following drinks were always a little better.

Another factor to consider is regular sessions with a therapist. Regular work for a massage therapist is golden. We work in an industry that isn’t often stable. Work comes and goes, paychecks fluctuate and clients that get regular work make our income more balanced and our work go farther. Clients who engage in regular work respond better, their tissues soften and it shows they’re being proactive with their health. After ten years working nothing is quite as irksome as someone who comes in with the code red crick in the neck. That didn’t happen over night, it usually happens over the course of months of lack of exercise, lack of care and now they come in for me to fix it. A regular client who comes in gets far more empathy when it comes to the ups and downs of life and limb.

So the appreciation goes both ways. If you’re a client or student who sends friends, thank you. You’ve made my healing work possible. If you tip and help me pay for gas and groceries thank you as well. Without you I’d be working as a plumber in a far less fun environment.


Sigmund Freud is quoted as saying that, “only two things heal, love and work.” I’ve spent ten years pondering healing and what it means to us as a species. It comes in many forms and one thing I’m certain of is that much like life itself it continues to shift and change. What was once healing, isn’t as beneficial as it once was. Attachment to particular outcomes leads to much suffering.

Over time as business grows I feel marketing, networking, logistics, schedules and adult responsibility creeping in and I try to remember why I became interested in my work to begin with. I wanted to help others as I’d been helping myself. That continues but it’s good to sit, breathe and remember our core as we venture off into the sunset on another adventure. What is the goal?

At my core I want to be whole. I want time with my loved ones. I want to be able to eat homemade pesto with some salami on a warm summer night and relish the small gifts life has allowed. I never want to be so lost in marketing and money that I lose sight of why I started doing what I do to begin with. Finances never even factored. I had to heal. I’ve come a long way, helped many people and long after I’m gone people will remember me as a healing force in their lives. Flawed but always with good intentions.

You heal as quickly as you allow yourself to let go of disease, discomfort and old beliefs. Why grasp? Let go.

Starvation Mentality

One concept has come up again and again over the years in relation to healing work and marketing. Just like any business advertising plays its role in yoga and bodywork. You’re trying to let people know what it is that you do and draw them in. In no way however do I wish to be a used car salesman. There is no real pitch and certainly nothing I deem as soul crushing as a gimmick.

I give away what I do, you just pay to pick some of it up. Whether in a yoga class or learning Thai massage I don’t interact with my work and business in a way to protect what I do from others learning it. I want you to learn what I know, I want you to know how to do the things I do and help others whether or not I get a profit financially.

In jazz circles I’ve heard stories that long ago trumpet players would hang a handkerchief over their playing hand while playing so that other trumpeters couldn’t see how they were pressing the keys in a certain way to attain certain sounds. They were protecting their market. Even Robert Johnson is said to have tuned his guitar turned away from the crowd so that others couldn’t see how he set things up before playing blues.

I don’t do this in my practice. As I recently heard on the show Treme, “sunlight is the best disinfectant.” All I do is transparent. I’ve no desire to hide behind walls, regulations and red tape protecting the knowledge that I have.

In teaching Thai massage this provides a particular case we can examine to see why. In our area there aren’t many practitioners of Thai massage. I could resist teaching, continue working with clients and build clientele and never teach. It depends on what goals we have for our healing work and business. Eventually I’d have many clients, work on them and that would be that.

Thing is, my goal is to help people heal. Because my end goal isn’t just making money it changes the way I choose to interact with clients and students. If I teach Thai massage do I cripple my market? No. In no way shape or form do I hurt my market. Massage therapists aren’t competeing regardless of what anyone else says. Let’s say maybe 5% of the total populace gets a massage semi-regularly. Are massage therapists competing to get some of that 5%? I’m not, I’m working on trying to communicate with that other 95% who maybe have never even had a massage.

If I teach it has its own benefits. Doing healing work is healing in and of itself. I obtain some financial incentive to teach good classes and have students. I also send out a vast array of personalities, people and healers to work on others. If I can add to what a student knows, helping them invest in their tool box then I’ll be able to increase healing overall for more people. I can only do so many sessions with my own two hands. Let me teach 20 people fully…that’s a huge amount of overall gain not only for my practice but for our community.

When students learn Thai massage from me who will they come to when they want a session? Possibly me, so I’m also adding a possible client down the road. When that student needs more CEU’s at a later date who will they contact? Possibly me. Have I then detracted financial incentive or destroyed my market? Not at all, we’ve created a new one.

In regards to yoga and bodywork, we’re only at the beginning. There are days when the overall crushing burden Americans must feel physically takes it’s toll on me psychically. Why does everyone come in with this same upper back and neck issue? Because they don’t do yoga regularly and they know very little about their bodies structure and function. Once you know, you know. It’s easy to work with and help heal when you know there is a cure. For most people there isn’t, they feel this is just what happens as people age and grow old. Frankly, it’s not, not even close. People do age and change but the amount of burden I’ve seen in 10 years as a massage therapist is almost overwhelming. It’s why my internal response has been to grow and change. Don’t just do massage, teach yoga, don’t just teach yoga teach bodywork, don’t just teach bodywork do yoga therapy. Teach all that is helpful to others. If people do not know, they cannot respond to a situation with that information.

Am I destroying my market? Not at all.

In conversation with my wife I was discussing what would be my ideal situation. Apart from settings like locale, studio and luxury it looked something like this. I have a small private studio. Other than when I see clients or have a yoga class, currently the studio is empty. My preference would be to simply keep the studio open. Students could come and practice as they see fit and I could wander in and out at will. I teach but it’s hanging out, informal. Students just come around because they want to feel better and there is a jar at the door where they can drop donations to support our work. Notice I said our work. Is Ebb and Flow yoga studio mine? No…it’s Ours. You create it just as much as I.

The deep burning and searing goal of my work is to help others heal. Money will come, money will go. I’m not avoiding it or looking down on it, I just feel that if money is my only focus I’d have left this business long ago. You want to be a healer? Take a vow of poverty and help others heal. You want to make money, start a business. I’m in between. There’s no dishonor in that. I need little to live a luxurious lifestyle compared to many around the world.

Students in massage school years ago went and took a class with a teacher. When they returned they refused to tell other students what they had learned because they felt it would give them an advantage over the students who hadn’t taken the class. After all, they had invested the money taking it right? Wouldn’t they be watering down what they’d learned instead of treating it like a precious resource to be held onto exlusively?

In my core I just don’t agree. For all the students I’ll teach Thai massage to, will all of them practice it? No. Many will continue working on the table and use bits and pieces in their work. If I continue gardening will I start a CSA? Well, there’s a whole different level of involvement between having a good garden, harvesting produce and running a business supplying others. Not everyone is going to take my yoga classes and decide to become a yoga teacher. They want to learn yoga not necessarily teach others the same things. The same goes with Thai massage. Even if I taught 100 other therapists in and around Austin that just builds up a small community of people who like Thai yoga and work with it, introducing it to people I’d never have the time or energy to work on myself.

If people want to know what it is that I do they just need to hang out long enough to get some of my work, take some yoga classes and see for themselves. Any advertising is inadequate. I can’t process and pare down ten years of experience into a slogan. Do I feel that teaching and helping people will water down and saturate an already full market? No. The market isn’t even remotely full. Most people don’t get massage. Those that do are getting table massage that’s probably not that different from other kinds of bodywork going around.

Most don’t do yoga. I’m regularly fielding questions from people who ask about its spirituality and connection to Hinduism. What does your spine have to do with Sanskrit? I wholly admit yogas roots but let’s keep in mind that more people in the US do yoga than in its home country of India. That’s right, more people practice yoga in the west than in the east.

Teaching and sharing the knowledge of healing work doesn’t saturate and already full market, it opens up new markets as more people find out what they should be taught from the time they’re children.

Saturating a market? Oh, how I wish. If people had the bodies they could have and the lack of back pain that I dream of I could retire. At its core what I see is starvation mentality. Everyone thinks they have to gorge and eat all they can because the food and prosperity may dry up. I do not and will not subscribe to that idea.

Jesus told the disciples in Matthew 6:26 “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?”


The word integrity comes from the Latin, integer, meaning whole. If you lack integrity, I feel you’ve lost the most important thing not only in business but in life. I’ve worked hard over the years to maintain the highest integrity and the few times it’s been questioned I’ve lamented even the notion of its being lost.

Integrity in business is particularly important to me as my business grows. Until recently it’s felt like I was putting compost and water on the plants to get them to grow and was just excited they weren’t dying. Now, I’m looking at a growing tree and thinking, it may be time to prune. Different phases, different focus but a continued focus on healing and healing work.

Revolving door does not work for me. Revolving door clients with the same issues who do not wish to improve don’t interest me. Clients that work on themselves, want to get better and aspire for humanities greatest good, are. Sometimes this confuses people who see me. They expect that immediately after our session I’ll pull out a book and ask when we can schedule them again. I never do that. I may mention that we can schedule again if you wish but this isn’t sales, not in the used car way. There is no pressure and I refuse, due to my integrity, to sell you something I don’t feel you need.

Most can use a once a week session. Sounds great doesn’t it? I’ll never push for that though. Finances are what they are. Most can’t afford work that often. The good news is that if you team up with me I show you how to do lots of it on your own. That way you can get a solid session once every two weeks or once a month and live a primo life. No back pain. Read that again. Can you imagine walking around feeling unencumbered? If I have my way we’ll walk around like we did as children, good posture, hearts full of love and curious minds exploring. That can be yours. I’m working on mine, it’s a process but I’ve had glimpses and it’s worth all the work to get there.

Integrity in a bodywork business means I’m not going to wait until you’re relaxed and try to sell you things while you’re in a stupor. I’m not opposed to retail but the product must be something I use and it must be something I deem necessary, not something sold just because I’d get a percentage. This business is about relationships, not dollar signs. The minute I treat you like a commodity to be bought and sold I’ve lost my humanity. There are enough businesses running on a starvation mentality treating you like a cog in a machine, I refuse to be another.

The integrity I aspire to means that my teacher can come in and get a session and feel that it’s worth every penny. It’s worth what I charge because it’s about healing, helping and assisting. It’s an extension of my life not a lucrative late night scheme with an infomercial. That same integrity is what I would hope would be felt by clients (we can dream can’t we?) like BKS Iyengar, Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama. I want a business that they would look at and say, “I’m glad I helped inspire what you do. Thank you for helping others.”

If I could dig up Bill Hicks I’d hope he’d realize that I understood his messages about marketing and putting dollar signs on everything. Then as he lit up a cigarette post session I could ask him if he’d ever explored pranayama and what it could do for his oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.

If my business seems odd, then I’ve done well. It’s Never going to look like other businesses and that’s fine. The American dream is what you make it. My American dream is showing people they can live free, unencumbered lives in one of the most blessed countries on earth. Real health! Real integrity. No limitations.


Working with a client yesterday it dawned on me the skill level I’ve attained. Doing Thai massage isn’t the same as receiving it. The only thing I’ve noticed is that I believe I’m occasionally a little heavy handed due to not receiving the work regularly but overall I’ve absorbed it. It’s in my cells, not something abstract I read in a book. When people tell me they have pain in one spot, I know to look at another. When they’re having pain I can discern the structural issue and often help.

Working with students in my last Thai massage class a chart was pulled out with sen lines, the energy lines in Thai massage. I glanced at it, something I’ve not looked at in what seems like years and just giggled internally. I feel them. Map? Model? Chart? I laughed realizing others don’t even know they’re there, I just sense them after years of working on people and myself. I no longer need the model.

I’ll probably always have moments of I’m not good enough, I think my perfectionist streak leads to that. In the end I realize I’ve devoted the past ten years of my life to healing. I heal myself, heal others and try to find new areas and ways to continue that path.

You can get a massage anywhere. Nothing beats experience. I often tell people these days I focus on chronic pain issues, working with athletes like dancers or yoga practitioners. I can work on anyone but my nuanced skill set means these niche groups seek me out.

When I got out of massage school I started to notice the patterns in peoples posture. Session after session I worked and ten years in I’m Really good at what I do. I’m good enough that I’m teaching others what I do without review, without advanced preparation and railing off on concepts related to energetics, physiology, anatomy and bodymind. This won’t lead to a puffed up I know it all attitude but it does lead to my charging what I’m worth, being confident in my skills and continuing to grow and develop.

It’s humbling to look back, remembering times when I’ve almost given up. I refused. I knew what I had worked it just took time to develop and marketing has never been my focal point. I can work on the marketing but how are healers created?

Heal yourself. Keep working on others and practice healing them. Then you can develop mastery in your chosen field.

Holding on

In discussions about my business I vacillate on whether I’m good at what I do. It feels sad to write that but that is in fact the case when it comes to business, running a business and dealing with the ins and outs of marketing and management. My wife has expressed to me as have clients that what I do is amazing. Nothing short of the best bodywork they’ve ever received and that I just seem to be able to get into areas and release tension that no one else can touch. Clients will often tell me, “no one has ever worked on that area before.”

So I settle on the side of my bodywork is fantastic. It’s not ego, just ten years experience and work. Anything you work on that long you’ll get better even if it’s not a gift. If my work is then so good, why does my income, client base and public praise feel so low? This isn’t just a whiney post saying woe is me. This is my blog and my exploration of education, practice and business. So, in short, why am I not being hunted down by clients? Why are people not lined up down the block to see me? Why am I not to some degree materially wealthy from my work?

I have to be cautious about this conversation with people because I can get testy. I’ve spent ten years pouring my heart and soul into what I do so it’s meaningful to me. During a conversation with my wife about it last night she just declared, “people are attached to their pain, on some level they don’t want to heal.” In discussion we layed out that some people simply hold on to what they know. Healing is difficult and letting go seems painful, the pain you know is preferred.

Is that it? I’m not looking for an answer per se, this is just an exploration. Do people have a belief system, culture and background that simply prefers pain and endless medication/surgeries until the end of life? Even if that is the case what about the I guess 1% that actually want to get better? I only need that 1% of clients to follow me to have a wildly lucrative and fantastic practice.

So why doesn’t it spill over? When does the cup not overflow? I’m not really certain. I know that I dedicated myself to the healing arts in spite of income and over time have come to question whether what I do should be more lucrative. Where’s the lack in nature? There is no lack, nature provides glut, overabundance beyond what we need. A farmer grows so many apples he’s got to make cider.

In that same way, is it image? Have I focused on substance only to realize I don’t have a big fancy studio with wood floors? There’s no incense burning and future trips to Thailand for further education planned? I’m not really sure.

I do know that without a doubt I will not stop what I’m doing. I’ve devoted and dedicated myself to my own and my clients/students healing for ten years and will stop at nothing to continue promoting what I do. The general public knows nothing of what I do. Nothing. They believe health is an absence of symptoms and medications make symptoms go away. Surgeries cure things by cutting them out. Meanwhile, I’m focused on teaching the basics, here’s how you breathe, here’s how you stand.

I will not stop. If forced to live in a cardboard box I will continue what I’m doing. There is no other option, now I must only find those willing to come along. When it comes to many things I believe you get them when you let go, not when you hold on. When dealing with influence I remind myself that Jesus only had 12 disciples but he’s had a fairly large influence on people. So, I’m glad I have a place to discuss the process of letting go.


I’ve worked for years to increase my practice, build what I’m doing and in the past two years really decided it was time people listened. At 25 most people assumed my health was a gift of genetics but ten years later people look at me and start to wonder what it is I’m doing that seems to be working. I ache, I hurt and regularly I might add but, I can control it. Bodywork and yoga have provided a solid platform along with dietary changes that allow me to heal myself to my ability. That control leads to less depression, less frustration and lots of hope.

This week I had to turn away three clients, three of my regulars I see once a week. I, Robert Gardner turned away work and money. I reached my limit. My work has grown to the point that scheduling is needed in more detail, regular time off must be scheduled and my prices/rates need to rise more. I love what I do and it shows. To turn away work is something I’ve dreamed of and it only took ten years, two states and innumerable breaths to reach.

You want a session of Thai massage? It’s $100.00 per session and you’ll need to schedule two weeks in advance. I’ll see you soon. Thai massage class starts at 830am tomorrow.