Personal Musings of a Massage Therapist

Hello, Family and Friends! This is Brooke. For the last 4 years, I’ve been blessed to be a licensed massage therapist at a beautiful retirement community. Massage therapy itself is truly a special occupation, one that allows you to help people in so many ways. I love being able to take my fascination with science and anatomy and use it to solve problems that people have with their bodies—maybe an injury here or there, a little tweak in the back, a stiff neck and shoulders, a tension headache that needs soothing. I also confess that I like to be needed and I adore making people happy. So, therapeutic massage is a gift I can share with people.

Some people may find the practice of therapeutic touch mysterious or unfamiliar, but really, it is very simple. The manual manipulation of soft tissue not only loosens tight muscles, but also reduces pain, warms tissues, increases blood circulation and lymph flow, improves immune function, reduces blood pressure, increases respiratory capacity, calms the nervous system, and influences hormone levels (among various other things). These effects are physical, and so can be observed and measured. However, the emotional components of massage are just as powerful. Recipients of therapeutic massage report feelings of well-being and happiness, of acceptance of their body, of connection and being cared for.  Actually, some psychological benefits of massage stem from physiological means—massage can reduce cortisol, the stress hormone, and can increase serotonin, the “feel-good” hormone.  Also, massage can increase oxytocin, the bonding hormone that helps you feel nurturing connection with others. Now, I’m certainly not saying all good feelings and happiness can be explained by scientific rationalization, but in case you are the pragmatic sort, actual clinical evidence supports the benefit of therapeutic touch. There you go. Now for the more touchy-feely stuff . . .

Everyone has personal space, the invisible but palpable field of energy around them that is closely, often subconsciously regulated. One allows others into that personal space according to the social relationships he or she maintains with the others. For example, you allow your friends and loved ones close to you, but door-to-door solicitors you probably keep at a distance. When clients come to me for an appointment, they are allowing me to be in that personal space with them and share my therapeutic touch—this is a great honor. They trust that I will be professional and respectful while helping them to relax or relieve a painful knot or move more easily, and I convey my care for them through my hands and how I communicate with them. My hope for my clients by the time they leave my spa room is that we have accomplished what they asked for help with, and that they are calmer and happier than when they arrived, with looser muscles and softer spirits.

But what’s on the other side of this interaction? Most of us know what it feels like to receive a massage, but what’s your therapist thinking? I can speak only for myself, but while I try to convey a calm, peaceful, positive vibe to people I interact with, my mind is often filled with thoughts of the day feverishly pinging around like an out-of-control pinball machine.

Once a session begins, however, my monkey mind is forced to be present and connected with my client. I wrangle my thoughts and tuck them quietly away as the music provides a soundtrack to the action of my hands, and I am lulled once again into peaceful contemplation. Massage becomes a moving meditation and calms my anxious spirit, in spite of myself. Often I feel the same peace and expansiveness my client feels as we work together—we are sharing the same air and energy in the dim room after all.  As I ponder this interchange of energy, I think of this quote by Ofer Zur and Nola Nordmarken, which feels true to me: “Touch is our first language. Long before we can see an image, smell an odor, taste a flavor, or hear a sound, we experience others and ourselves through touch, our only reciprocal sense. We cannot touch another without being touched ourselves. . .”

Blessings and happy Friday!

~Brooke

Advertisements

One Comment to “Personal Musings of a Massage Therapist”

  1. Nicely written, Brooke. I really enjoyed hearing how massage has affected you…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: