For starters... instead of putting it on the list, I’ll assume that you know that there is nothing sexual in what I do. And that if you call me a masseuse, it is because you don’t know the current term. Kinda like someone from an earlier era using not quite the right term for a nationality, ethnic group or an "alternative" lifestyle. Not with disrespect, just with a lack of knowledge of the current lingo. Two of which, in case you need to know, would be massage therapist or bodyworker!
So here we go!
1. Massage is not just a luxury or a stress reducer. A lot of people use it just now and again to treat themselves to something that feels good. And that’s okay - great, in fact. But I can actually help you heal if something is damaged.
2. Pain is not normal. I have had many clients through the years say that for the longest time they just accepted the pain because, well, they thought it was just how life was. But most people can live a fairly physically pain free life.
3. If everyone in the world got one massage a month, the world would be a better place. I’m serious here. When I was in massage school getting touched three times a week, even the Los Angeles freeways lost their power to push my road rage buttons. Find a way. If money is your stumbling block, find a way anyway. (Wellness Within Reach, Massage school clinics, learn the AromaTouch technique along with one of your friends or your partner and trade with each other…)
4. I agree with the Elephant Journal author on this one, for sure...do the homework your therapist suggests. I’m a big fan of homework because my goal is to get you to maintenance as quickly as possible. And here is the thing...the homework I give is designed to create what I call glacial change. The body responds so well to soft and gentle manipulation given again and again for long lengths of time. Kinda how those glaciers carved out huge lakes and valleys one inch at a time, I want you to carve out freedom of movement in between our sessions. Do the t-towel 3 times a week for 5-10 minutes. Sit watching your favorite tv show and gently push your pec muscles away from your sternum and clavicle. Stand up from your computer once every hour and return your neck and shoulders to neutral. I can do a lot in an hour or ninety minutes. But there is nothing so awesome as you adopting some great at-home/office practices.
5. Which brings me to another point. I do not care to be called a healer. I prefer that you think of me as a tool that you use to heal yourself. I’m a good, well-crafted tool, to be sure. But all I do, essentially, is invite your body to heal, then get out of its way so it can. Your body wants to be well. It really does. And massage shouldn’t be the only tool in your wellness toolbox. Put together a nice collection. Acupuncture is awesome. Good food is important. As they say, shop the perimeter of the grocery mart. Move your molecules with formal exercise or just by dancing around your house to your favorite album. Use essential oils. Find a good doctor who you trust, who listens to you and talks to you. And don’t neglect your mind or soul. They are as important as your body.
6. Massage is a therapeutic relationship. You need to find the right therapist for you. One who has the skills you need, makes you feel comfortable, and empowers you. And then stick with him or her. Massage is a process. Release is done one layer at a time.
7. But...cheating on us is good too! Mix it up now and again. Each therapist has different tricks up their sleeves. You can even ask me for a recommendation. No, really!
8. You do not need to help me move your body. Your arms and legs don’t weigh anything. You do not need to “help” or do your part. Your only job is to relax and breathe. I’ve got this.
9. I lied...you have one other job. You need to communicate if the pressure is too intense. I’m paying attention. When I feel the muscle resisting or it jumps or your face grimaces, I back off. I ease the pressure and slow down the stroke. But I don’t always know I’m hurting you. I appreciate your ability to breathe through the thing. But I’d prefer you’d just let me know it’s hurting. Because forcing the body doesn’t work. And if it’s really hurting, we are essentially putting injury on top of existing injury. Intensity is good. Pain is bad.
10. Whatever your body looks like is just fine. More than fine. It is a miraculous, gorgeous work of art that lets you do all these amazing things...My hope is that you have a solid relationship with it. That you have a connection with it. That you use its muscles. That you get its heart pumping. That you let your hands and arms do clever and loving things. That you talk nice to it. Enjoy it.
Art by Emily McDowell.
Peace and good things!