Tuesday, November 22, 2016

MASSAGE: From Physical Presence to Magical Realm

"If I am able to lie down in comfort, feeling the physical sensations of relief and healing, my consciousness is also able to float up into a more spiritual-feeling space of timelessness and pure potential."

When I had my first massage, I felt gentle tingling sensations throughout my body that at the time I would have described as “magical”. ‘I could easily get addicted to this feeling,’ I thought, but wondered if there was any real physical benefit to massage. I was doubtful, and yet still hopeful. Decades later, I now know that massage is not only beneficial to both the inner and outer workings of the body, it can help with emotional healing as well. But there’s one more rather secretive benefit of massage: A deeper connection to something greater than myself.

Now, no two massages are going to be exactly alike and each massage therapist is going to have a different technique and bring different energy to the table. Even your mental and physical states are going to vary, causing your needs – and thus each experiences - to vary. Still, there are certain constants I find occurring with massage therapy. Such as, if each time I commit to trusting the therapist and to allowing myself to relax as fully as possible into the situation, I will experience profound holistic benefits. I will also usually thoroughly enjoy the experience itself.

Why do I say “usually”? Well, there are certain factors that can prevent me from getting as much out of massage as I’d like. For instance, talking; too much deep tissue work; or other situational distractions/discomforts. Let me explain further.

Talking. While I love chatting with people and getting to know them, this distracts me from truly deep relaxation. It keeps me out of the magical realm that massage can so easily open. If I am able to lie down in comfort, feeling the physical sensations of relief and healing, my consciousness is also able to float up into a more spiritual-feeling space of timelessness and pure potential.

Too much deep tissue work. If the massage is painful in any way, my body tenses up, preventing me from transcending it. This is not to say that deep tissue work can’t be quite beneficial, but people disagree about how much discomfort should be inherent in the process. I’ve had deep tissue work done that didn’t hurt; so knowing this exists, why would I choose pain?

Other situational distractions/discomforts. If I am too hot or too cold, this is going to detract from the pleasantness of the experience, thus making me less comfortable and less able to relax into the process. If there is a yelping dog in the other room (and this has happened before), my heartstrings are going to be pulled toward it and away from my own transformational feelings. If I am self-conscious about not having shaved my legs, I am going to be mentally bogged down by that trivial concern. And yet since this is really so much more than a “situational distraction/discomfort”, let’s consider it a little further.

Self-conscious feelings of shame/embarrassment. If I haven’t shaved my legs that day, I am assuming that the therapist is going to be disgusted by this. But wait a minute. “Disgusted”? That’s a strong word for something so insignificant. How about an acne breakout, body odor, excess weight? And we haven’t even touched upon the more damaging internal reasons for feeling we need to feel this shame or embarrassment in the first place. Never mind what excuse we’re using for feeling this way, we are essentially feeling unworthy.

Sometimes it’s the little things that help us become aware of the big ones. Why would I feel so bad about not shaving my legs? Do I honestly think the therapist cares or even notices? It’s much more likely that there is a part of me feeling unworthy because (I feel) I am imperfect. So perhaps I have some perfection issues to tend to...

See how beneficial massage therapy can be?! It can help reveal hidden insecurities, whether physical or emotional (or both). And shining a light on these subconscious processes can help us transcend to the magical realm where healing is quite simple, and still profound.

Or, you could just lay back and enjoy the experience of your body being pampered. If you can do that, I'd say you’re already in a pretty good place.

[We now offer massage services at Middle Way Health. For more, read about Jill Kerrigan HERE.]

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