JAYMI DEVANS, FNP, MT
My Bodywork Journey
My first job in the Healing Arts, was as a Counselor for "Rock Medicine", providing first-aid and triage at rock music concerts. I was assigned a corner of a large tent where I would “talk down” people that were dealing with psychotic breaks from bad drug experiences. I had come from a background as a scientist and an aerospace engineer so this was new territory for me. It was an empowering experience. I felt successful, curious, deeply concentrated, and inspired to find myself drawing on some type of innate ability. In the next year I continued crisis counseling, and co-founded an overnight shelter in the Castro district of San Francisco. For the following 12 years I continued counseling homeless youth, and developed further services in the Haight and the Tenderloin. Among my friends, through political actions, and consciousness raising groups, I became part of a wave of undefined, emerging ‘natural healers’. We did massage, and were interested in psychic healing, natural foods, and exploring ancient traditional ways.
I was also a student of T’ai Chi Ch’uan and gradually developed the feel of Qi, its movement, and how to use it in the physical world. Through the practice of Push Hands I developed the basis for my understanding and philosophies of touch and connection.
My first bodywork training was with Marion Rosen PT, who was a pioneer in the emergence of somatic therapies. She taught me to notice, listen, and open to areas of ‘holding’. And then, very simply, empty, connect, reflect observations, and stay present. And refrain from ‘doing’.
I dedicated myself to Rosen Method Bodywork in its ‘pure’ style for 5 years, in a full-time practice. It was a rigorous foundation, and it continues to sit solidly at my center. I specialized in trauma resolution and end-of-life care, and worked with people with unresolved grief, PTSD, or in significant life transitions.
I then became a student of Tom Hendrickson DC, who had developed a very concrete and extremely effective method for treating orthopedic injuries (now called Hendrickson Method). I settled into the comfort of academics and delved into the study and practice of functional patterns, and absorbed everything I could about manual therapy. I found this practical aspect of my work especially gratifying because results were so reliable, immediate, and tangible.
As I became broadly familiar with various forms of manual therapy I began to realize that I was firmly rooted in two worlds. Marion Rosen had taught me ‘non-doing’ and ‘not knowing’ as healing methods, and Tom Hendrickson had taught me the value of clear intention, and the application and perfection of precise technique. I struggled to reconcile this apparent dichotomy, but gradually began to appreciate that my healing modalities could travel the full continuum of what was possible in manual therapy. This reconciliation also formulated a conversation with my hands and the quality of my touch. Each moment questioning whether to advance or be present through resistance, how to be intentional, while at the same time being receptive and sensing for ‘openings’. I have come to trust this continual tiny conversation, awaiting at the threshold, and letting my hands quietly follow these micro-openings.
While immersed in the study of orthopedics, I found myself increasingly focused and intent at my desk. I decided that I would return to graduate school and study primary care, with the the goal of integrating manual therapies into mainstream medical care. I graduated from UCSF several years later with a license as a Family Nurse Practitioner. I especially enjoyed my return to working with underserved populations, and medicine offered limitless opportunities for learning and practice. But other than a few workshops I taught at Integrative Medicine conferences, I had not succeeded in incorporating manual therapies into any aspect of the regular curriculum.
For the following six years I worked in community based clinics as a Primary Care Provider. Due to the acuity of the medical demands, and the relentless pace, I had little ability to incorporate manual therapy into my practice there either.
In 2015 I was experiencing some burn-out with allopathic medical care, and decided to dedicate myself more fully to manual therapies again. I took some transition time in Zanzibar, Tanzania, and while I was there opened a manual therapy clinic and apprenticeship teaching program. In my work, I experienced a deep happiness that comes from the connection allowed by touch, and from providing health care using a medium that could transcend cultural barriers.
During these 30 years, my work has seen many minute evolutions. I continue to overlay additional teachings, and my foundations remain strong in their ability to hold and foster new growth. I continue to interweave osteopathic techniques, somatic therapies, embodiment practices, as well as integrating new understandings of our physical structure and function. My work is also changing as I further develop stillness, clear sensation, and connectedness through my meditation practice.