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Ok, back to massage related issues. I’ve been very busy lately, even yesterday on Sunday I performed a full day of massage sessions, so I figured I’d attempt to write a bit about it. Life experiences come in all shapes and sizes. I’ve learned and experienced a great deal from Ki Aikido, and have done my best to apply what I have learned to my life, and in training to becoming a more proficient, efficient and effective Las Vegas massage therapist.
Often times clients will want ‘deeper’ work performed on them. Unfortunately, many times their muscle will spasm or contract/ tighten, or the client’s general area I’m working on will ‘shy away’ from the pressure. Many times they are unaware of this. Perhaps the client is very tense and tight, and even the slightest pressure causes contraction, or I’m working incorrectly based on what their body is ‘telling’ me.
In a previous post I mentioned that I seldom perform more than 5 massage sessions a day. It’s my mind or my ‘attentive capacity’ that doesn’t hold up; not my physical body. If this sounds rather silly or you don’t know what I mean, think of it this way: Do your best to perform 5 hours of meditation every day, or tai-chi or yoga or whatever, in a mindful state, then perhaps you’ll grab the gist of what I mean. I’ve never claimed to be a Zen master ;)
Over the past couple of years I view how I perform massage as, ‘moving meditation.’ This label has been applied to many different activities such as yoga, tai-chi, aikido and countless other forms. On a different note, any therapist with just a few months training can ‘drop an elbow’ on a restricted area. I did this myself for years as well. I’m not saying this is ‘wrong’ or ‘right,’ I’m just saying that I’ve moved away from this in my practice. I also ‘think’ that using the mind as a tool is marvelous, as well as the training I’ve received. Yet, as I’m sure you are aware of, the mind ‘recalls’ extremely fast, pulling from what I’ve learned and then can be applied to the clients body rather quickly. Other than this, I’ve found no use for the ‘mind’ to dwell upon anything after this.
Here’s the point I’m getting at: Becoming One, not two, with the client. There’s no conflict, ‘me’ against ‘them’ mentality. There’s no ‘I’m going to fix this person’ either. There’s just an intuitive process going on that allows me to address what it is the client is visiting for in the first place. Just flowing emptiness in my one-point more and more; relying less and less on pushing and pulling, poking and holding an area, or clever postural positions I can move my body into or other skillful massage technique tricks.
Another way of saying this is, I don’t meet their mind or body at the point of conflict, via tension, pain or what-have-you, in a separate way. This is easy, and not very successful, in my humble opinion. As massage therapists we have clients in vulnerable positions, posturing our bodies over theirs. It’s easy to then apply loads of force and pressure into a specific area. Sure, at times this is needed, yet what I’m saying is, this can be accomplished along with what I’m describing.
When there’s no separation, there’s no conflict. Perhaps many massage therapists would say, “I don’t know what you mean by using the phrase conflict and I’m not in conflict with my clients to begin with.” This may be true, especially with a soothing, relaxing Swedish massage for stress relief. I’d think most of us ‘become One’ with the clients with these long, flowing strokes. Yet, in a more ‘pain management’ style of massage, I’ll bet most of us often think, “I’m going to get this knot, trigger point, whatever, out, come hell or high water!” Isn’t this true? This is what I mean by conflict. Us against them.
To hone this discussion even further, I’m going to comment on the difference between ‘contact,’ between ourselves and our clients, versus ‘connecting’ with our clients. This is where the ‘rubber meets the road’ so to speak. With contact, there still may be conflict, yet with a true connection with our clients, there’s no separation. The physical bodies of clients know this well. As an example, I’m sure you have experienced this: A tight glut muscle in a client. Often times if we just touch [contact] this area, it will contract, tighten up. Yet again, as I’m sure most of us have experienced, if we truly connect with this constricted area, it relaxes on its own, right within our own hands. The body knows this on a subtle level. Not to get too ‘far out’ in regards to this, just a ‘softer touch’ doesn’t work either. In my humble opinion, this only works [connecting] when we are coming from our one point.
When I just let go as C***** Sensei says, just relax, there’s this flowing [for lack of a better way to say this] from my center, my one point, then we are ‘moving together,’ just as in Aikido. My emptiness travels from my one point up through to my hands, [again, poorly worded but the best I can do right now,] connecting with the clients body, moving together the area I’m working on.
The benefits I’ve seen from this are very profound. First, when I’m moving in this effortless manner, even when applying deep pressure, it’s much easier on my body. I’m here, now, present in what I’m doing. As for the clients, they can ‘sense’ this as well, making for a much more pleasant experience, thus, they are much more likely to re-schedule for further massage sessions. …and yes, this still works for results based massage treatments, or evidence based treatments, or whatever one chooses to label it. The techniques are not all that different, it’s the flavor, the mindset I have or ‘bring to the client’ that has changed.