I realized today after carefully counting that I’ve touched 100 naked people in the last 7 months. That probably makes you wonder if I’m a sex worker.
I’m not. I’ve been a student of massage therapy since June 2011, and I’ve worked on my fellow students and teachers, many of my friends and family, and clients at the student clinic.
I’ve worked on many of these people several times. When I complete just 10 more massages in the intern clinic, I’ll have completed the requirements for graduation and will have given about 150 massages.
Every person I’ve touched has gotten my full attention, presence, and skill. Even that one person who happened to be my fourth recipient in one day, when it crossed my mind that I felt tired and cranky — I pulled myself out of that mindset, got a second wind, and gave them my best.
A naked and vulnerable human on the table in front of me is a divine gift with whom I hold a sacred contract to give my best.
Every person I’ve massaged has contributed immensely to the intelligence in my hands, heart, instincts, and awareness.
Most people are fairly silent when receiving massage, their attention on their bodies or breath or my hands, I presume, or perhaps their grocery list. I don’t read minds, so I don’t really know.
Silence helps me work.
Some people stay mentally alert and present the entire time. Some sink quickly or slowly into a state of deep relaxation, that state of no effort where the body is being breathed, the mind is loose and free, and imagery bubbles up out of darkness. Some fall asleep. Their snoring tells me.
Sometimes I go into a trance with you, and those are the best massages.
I watch and listen to you breathing. I feel your pulses. I see your scars — the ones on your skin and the emotional ones like the chronically rounded shoulders, that one tight hip, the rigidity in your torso. Sometimes your bodies tell me stories, of weight gained or lost, an old injury with a long recovery, a recent injury complete with road rash, surgery, playing a sport, working out regularly, working at a computer.
No one — so far — has had a perfect body. I belief that’s likely a myth created by airbrushing.
I’ve learned that nearly everyone has some tension in their shoulders — in the upper trapezius muscle, to be specific.
The low back is also a popular place for tension and pain to hang out. It’s amazing that by working on your rectus abdominis (the abdomen’s six-pack), the front and back of your body become balanced and your low back pain goes away.
I’ve learned that due to handedness, no one’s upper trapezius muscles are exactly symmetrical.
Some people think they’re relaxed, but when I pick up their arm or leg, they have a hard time letting go of control, giving me the full weight.
Some people want more pressure, some less. I’ve gained strength in my arms and hands and can now deliver more consistent firm pressure.
I’ve worked on fat people, skinny people, people with chronic health problems, healthy people, a lot of people stressed out from office work (I’ve posted before about too much sitting), an age range from 11 to 85, people with tight bodies and loose bodies, and one pregnant woman.
When I worked on my daughter, memories of her infancy arose, and I realized that everyone who gets naked on my table is just this:
an old baby
no longer tiny or quite so helpless
nonetheless innocent and vulnerable like a newborn
I’ve learned that some people are not very knowledgeable about their own bodies, misnaming their body parts, unaware of tensions, oblivious to the postural or movement habits that cause them pain — that they’ve unconsciously created for themselves.
Your body tells the truth. It can’t lie.
Why aren’t body awareness and anatomy taught at home and in schools?
There are certain massage strokes that tend to get sighs of relief and moans of pleasure. I’ve developed an opening routine that opens.
Receiving massage is all about you becoming more alive and your nervous system waking up, your body shedding tension and moving into relaxation and pleasure, not to mention improving your circulation, breath, brainwaves, mood, compassion, immunity, energy flow, digestion, posture, alignment, balance, movement, and presence.
In many ways, allowing me to massage you is like letting me to take your armor off — the armor you probably weren’t aware of putting on until you started feeling tense or in pain.
Everyone can benefit from taking their time getting up afterwards, not rushing off in their cars to get somewhere else, not re-engaging their left brains too quickly.
Yes, leave your armor off for a while and stay for a cup of tea with me.