Blindfolded massage, looking at and seeing

Yesterday my class at Lauterstein-Conway Massage School did blindfolded massage.

We’re in the 11th week of our studies (going 3 full days a week) and have learned Swedish massage, range-of-motion and stretching, body mobilization techniques, friction and melting, and pressure points.

At this point, we have the Swedish techniques down pretty well. I am still remembering when to integrate the other techniques. To do it all would take a couple of hours. Also important is learning to do the extra work just where the client most needs it.

I’ve decided that I do not like to give massages that are less than 90 minutes. This is from someone who got 60-minute massages for years. Now that I know what massage therapists have to omit to give a 60-minute massage, I see that I’ve missed out on some real juiciness! No more!

I will have my third Swedish practical exam tomorrow. I’m practicing today on a couple of friends.

Back to blindfolded massage. We students paired off and practiced on each other. The connection was so different.

With no visual distractions, the world takes on a different shape. Massaging the back becomes a journey through a landscape, with plains, valleys, mesas, hills, loamy ground, rocky areas, escarpments (and forests on some). Without seeing, the palm and fingers gain insight.

What if at the end of each finger, on the very tip, there is an invisible light shining out, showing the way? What if the entire hand is a light?

A very interesting thing occurred. It’s been difficult to give a massage in 60 minutes since learning the bells and whistles. Our instructor told us several times during the blindfolded massage how much time we had left. Both my partner, Robin, and I finished on time (albeit omitting the abdomen and face), and it looked like most everyone else did too.

I’ve written before about focused and peripheral vision. Foveal (focused) vision is narrow. (I remember this from the book The Open-Focus Brain, and I’ve written about the 12 states of attention as well.)

Looking at (focused) and seeing (peripheral) are different states. One is more stressful, tied to the sympathetic, fight-or-flight nervous system, and the other is more relaxed, tied to the parasympathetic, rest-or-digest nervous system.

Without using vision at all, functioning mainly through touch, time condenses to the present moment.

Robin noticed that I stopped several times, once on each limb, she said. I remember needing to really feel into it. Apparently some others did too.

I also learned not to do anything where feedback from seeing the person’s face is valuable, such as during stretches and when working on the neck. Fortunately, Robin saved herself from me!

Also, draping (sheet placement) was more difficult blindfolded. Robin did well draping me, so I know it can be done.

Wish me luck on my practical exam Thursday and second written exam next Thursday! Then I’ll have a week off.

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