I’ve been offering pay-what-you-wish massage and bodywork off and on since 2011 for modalities I was getting certified in. This summer of 2014, I offered pay-what-you-wish for all my services at The Well during July and August.
It worked out well. I have had more people coming in to be worked on, new people (often via word of mouth) are coming in, and I am making ends meet, thanks to the generosity of my clients. It’s satisfying.
I am going to continue to offer it indefinitely. I like this way of working. It’s part of the gift economy. (If you’d like to learn more about it, read Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein, visit the website http://sacred-economics.com/, or watch the video below.)
The way I see it, bodywork and healing are what I do, and I’d like to stay busy doing it. I encourage you, if you’d like to receive regular or even occasional bodywork that you can afford to move your life to a higher level of well-being, to connect with me so we can talk about how we can work together, or just make an appointment.
Sometimes people are uncomfortable with this unorthodox concept of pay-what-you-wish, so here’s some thinking behind it, and I hope it will help you feel more comfortable deciding how much to pay for my services.
First of all, by offering pay-what-you-wish massage, it is not my intent to offer “cheap massage”. I work hard to improve my skills. I seek a lot of training, taking classes and workshops, reading, watching videos, and practicing with/on other massage therapists — way, way beyond what Texas law requires to maintain a license. Who knows? At some point in the future, I may be only offering some elite modality and charging top dollar. I’m not there now. I’m having a good time practicing and improving my skills.
Secondly, I want my practice to be full and thriving. If I hold out for top dollar, I will not be working as much. Since I learn so much from doing, making massage affordable gets people on my table more often, and the more I work, the better I get.
Thirdly, making a lot of money is not my top priority. I like money for what it can do for me, and my expenses and obligations are modest. I’m sharing this here because some readers may not be aware that there are real, regular people whose lives and decisions are not driven by the need to make as much money as possible by working at a job that is stressful. I too have had a mortgage, a child at home, a lot of debt, and stressful jobs. Not any more. My work now is driven by my desire to be of service and to take excellent care of myself while doing so.
Fourthly, in the so-called olden days, healers of all kinds – herbalists, hands-on healers, shamans – received support from their communities in many forms in exchange for their services. Entire villages could exist without money being exchanged because people traded and bartered for goods and services, and everyone did what they could to help the whole village thrive. If someone was poor and needed healing, the healers didn’t turn them away. If they could only pay with food or labor or kind deeds that benefited others in the community, that was acceptable.
Importantly, there would always be an exchange (because everyone has something to offer, and it’s crucial to recognize that), and if times were hard for the community, times were hard for the healers too.
Now we live in bigger communities in a society that uses money for most of its trade, but the good life is still about being connected and reciprocity.
Fifthly, if it’s not sustainable, it ends. I’ll change the way I do business or find another livelihood. This is what I wish to offer now, and so far I feel great about every single one of my pay-what-you-wish sessions and what I was offered in payment.
Here are some guidelines about how much to pay:
- If you can afford full price, I gratefully accept. My full-price rate is $75 for an hour. For ninety minutes, full price is $105. (With the customary 20% gratuities, those amounts rise to $90 and $129 if you can afford it. Another great thing about pay-what-you-wish is that tipping is not accepted. Oh, I guess you could give me a tip about a good movie or restaurant, if you wish!)
- If you are totally flush with money, and you totally loved your session, you can pay more if you like!
- If these are beyond your means at this time, here’s something to consider. As of late August 2014, two major “discount” massage chains in Austin offer a 50-60 minute massage for $44-60. Adding the gratuity expected at these establishments puts these massages in the range of $54-70. Scale up or down for 90 or 30 minute sessions. If these prices are what you can afford, please consider booking an appointment with me.
- Here’s how I differ from a chain: I’m interested in getting to know your body, your tension patterns, your habitual postures, your tender points, so I can deliver relief and healing, so I take good notes and refer to them before your next visit. I want to work with you to reduce your overall stress and pain levels over time. I can advise you on how to prevent/relieve tension from working at a desk job. I can offer to teach you stretches, exercises, and self-care techniques you can do to enhance your quality of life. I can refer you to other good alternative health care practitioners and trainers. I give you the full time you pay for, if you are not running late. I offer better music, nature sounds, or silence if you prefer. I offer a variety of essential oil aromatherapy choices if you want it. I keep arnica on hand for your bruises and muscle pain. I’m more personal, less corporate.
- If this is still beyond your means and you need bodywork, talk to me. I know incomes can fluctuate. Maybe you’re pursuing work you love, but the income isn’t there yet. Maybe you’re just not driven to earn a lot. Maybe you’ve had some misfortune. Maybe you feel stuck in a low-paying job. Maybe you’ve had some unexpectedly high expenses. You may even be stressed out about your situation, imagine that. I want to help you out, get you back on your feet, relieve your stress, change your energy for the better. Just ask what’s acceptable.
- I am willing to trade or barter for services I need. Electrical work? Sign painting? Car detailing? Housekeeping? Gardening? Hauling? Delicious meals? Ask.
- Also, if you would like to offer me a delightful non-monetary token of your esteem (some green or herbal tea, flowers or plants, a nice bottle of red wine, art, music, poetry, books, tickets, pickings from your garden, bone broth or other Paleo/WAPF diet food), please, just go right ahead and enchant me!