Eric Brown holds the LMT designation as a licensed massage therapist but he also holds the highest accredited massage degree in the United States and is a master massage therapist. This is his 20th year sharing the ‘authentic expression of his beingness’ and we sat down to get some insight from him about it all.
Question from Bodywork from Liberation clinic (Q): How does it feel to reach this 20 year milestone?
Answer from Eric Brown, Master Massage Therapist (A): When I began this career, I didn’t even know enough to call it a career. There was never a goal or end point that was concretely in the future. I just knew that I had found my craft. My form of expression, creating art, and I got to get paid for it. Now that I’m this far down the road and I have something substantial to look back on, I feel immense gratitude. Gratitude that I’ve been fortunate enough to support myself by creating art, gratitude that I’ve been able to literally, physically and emotionally, touch as many lives as I have (20,000! +/-) and to have created good in the world, by way of my existence. To know that a large part of why I am here, is to create comfort and peace and wellbeing.
Q: Why did you become an LMT and what do you love most about this career?
A: I was in the Army when I first discovered massage. When I received my first massage, I remember being so in awe and amazed that the therapist could create so many sensations I had never experienced in my body before. That every new area she worked, she had complete command over and knew how to relate to it while simultaneously caring for my experience. So that by itself was novel, noteworthy. Also, friends and I would massage each other with nobody knowing what to do, just general connection. And it was during that time a little seed was planted that this was fun and comes natural to me. But it was never anything I had considered as a career. I thought I was going to be a linesman, the guys who climb telephone poles, because that’s what I did in the military. But pursuing that line of work in California did not pan out. Massage was still in the back of my mind, so I looked up schools in the phone book and found one in Berkeley. As soon as I walked through the doors to take a tour, I had this whole body feeling of, “yep, this is where I’m supposed to be.” Class started two weeks later and I’ve never looked back.
When I started massage school is when I discovered my art, my way of expressing myself in the world, through touch, through sensation, through movement. It felt as if this well of creativity that I felt I always possessed, finally had an outlet, a form in which it could become tangible, quite literally. So from the beginning it was always about having fun, getting curious, creating art. And to be honest, that motivation has never changed. And as a byproduct of my art, my craft, people experience healing, comfort, relief and connection. Connection to themselves and to another human.
When it comes to decorating the house my wife always says that I am more function over form and she is more form over function. But in my work with massage, I get to experience form AND function simultaneously. It is the beauty of creating, and it also happens to have a functional, practical outcome.
Q: What moments stand out among those 20 years?
A: There are a few high points that stand out. The first is when I got my first job out of school, at the Spa at Silverado in Napa, California. That’s where I realized for the first time that the luxury spa industry was where I wanted to pursue my career. I fell in love with everything about it. The beautiful environment, the smells, the quality of customer service I was able to provide, the innovative and creative body treatments I was able to provide. I felt like a kid in a candy store. Having just come from 4 years in the military, this was not work, this was play. I got to PLAY for a living! The spas mission statement was simply, “Create Joy.” What?! Yes please, sign me up. And that became my trajectory, to create joy in all that I do.
Then at the 10 year point I became an instructor at the massage school here in Boulder. That was a huge accomplishment at the time. In addition to becoming the Lead Therapist (manager of the massage department) at a 4 star spa where I worked for 12 years.
One massage scenario that stands out in my career was by way of a scheduling error. I came in for my shift, looked at my schedule and my jaw hit the floor. I had 10 back to back 50 min massages with no break. For reference, a typical day at the time would be 4-5 massages, 6 would be considered max. I took a moment to absorb what my day would look like, took a deep breath and said, “okay, let’s do this.” My co workers were amazing, checking on me throughout the day, bringing me food. And I put my head down and was in my groove, rockin and rollin. My last client of the day couldn’t have been more complimentary of the work he received. And to end a marathon of a day like that, on that kind of a high note has always been a proud accomplishment. I never want to do it again, but at least I know what I’m capable of.
Q: What are you most proud of in your massage career so far?
A: I think the thing I’m most proud of is living a life in integrity by creating my soul’s expression for a living. Being able to support my family, support my wife while she was building her now successful family therapy practice.
Q: Has your reason to become a therapist or your passion for the work changed during this time?
A: No. Everyday I come to work, I feel so grateful that I get to create a living by creating art. I don’t see my career as being any different than a sculptor, painter, musician or a dancer. Every new client I work with is a new canvas, not only physically, but emotionally. Each with different boundaries and requests, physical limitations and past experiences that color our present time together. So with all of these variables that are unique to each person, how do I practice my craft now? What will our finished “piece” look like? I don’t know, let’s get curious together!
Q: What type of massage do you love providing and why?
A: I LOVE providing the oooey gooey yummy massage. Where I can feel my clients cells open to receive, and I can sink in to provide, where the work is guided by the tissues receptivity or boundaries. I’ve often described massage as being a symbiotic experience, not just as something “being done to you”. You pull and I push, you tense and I release. It’s very much a living, breathing work of art being created in the moment. When I greet a client for the first time and introduce myself, I follow that up by saying “We’ll be working together”, as opposed to other phrases I’ve heard such as “I’ll be working on you”. It’s a small detail that may often go unnoticed, but to me it sets the tone for our next hour or more together as being a collaboration.
Q: What is your ideal client type and why?
A: First, I’d like to make the distinction that ideal is subjective to the scenario. Ideal comes in many variations. An easy scenario to address as ideal is similar to what we have all experienced as a perfect day. Hitting all the green lights, your hair is looking good, your kids are pleasant. Sometimes, I get clients where everything lines up and we are a perfect energetic match. They want what I have to offer that day. But more often than not, there is coaching, trust, rapport, and past subpar experiences that need to be addressed. When I have a client that is skeptical, nervous or dismissive, and I can create a positive relationship from that foundation and exceed expectations, that is an amazingly ideal scenario as well.
Q: What does your future in massage look like?
A: I think I’ve gone a pretty natural course of my work being full throttle, working as much as I can, to slowing down and working as much as I like. Where I am now feels ideal, and I will cross the next bridge when I get to it.
Q: Do you have any career goals or bucket list items that you still plan on fulfilling?
A: Thankfully I’ve crossed a few off my list already, being a teacher and a Lead Massage Therapist. The only other things that would be a nice feather in my cap, would be to learn and perform 4 hands massage (two therapists at the same time with one client) and to incorporate cupping into my work. Other than that I feel pretty content with where I am and what I provide.
Eric and all of his experience and skill is why we have massage therapy tiers that allow clients to support expanded treatments that benefit their needs. If Eric’s tier IV bodywork and massage sounds like a partnership you’d like to explore, schedule a session here or upgrade your membership appointment to work with him.