A Lesson in How to Receive Massage
I had an interesting conversation with my massage therapist the other day of how long it takes for new clients to really ‘receive’ a massage. We just take it for granted as therapists that a client will know what to do. When I completed my training back in the 80s, we had no extra information other than how to prepare the couch and the room. There was no guidance on breath, how to be mindful, and how to ‘allow’ yourself as a client to receive a massage. How things have changed.
I have seen many new massage therapies come in to the UK.
We are more travelled and are able to experience different techniques. In my day, no one had tried thai massage and Lomi Lomi was not even heard of. Now we have a plethora of techniques and combinations to choose from, but all are worthless if the client isn’t ‘present’ during the treatment.
Years ago I received amazing treatments from Ben Barnett who used a fabulous guided meditation technique during his massage therapy ensuring you were fully aware and present. Aware of how your body felt and how that related to emotional imbalances. It allowed you to really focus.
You will find a therapist to suit you, but you need to know how to get the most from your treatment. The therapist may be the best ever, but unless you are in the right ‘space’ you won’t get value for money.
Arrive a little early. Have a wee! Wear clothes you can easily remove – there’s nothing worse after a treatment having to grapple with tights and hundreds of layers.
Don’t worry about your hair! That’s hair on your head as well as your body! A good therapist will need to massage your scalp, but we don’t pour a bottle of oil over it on purpose. Inevitably there will be a little oil in your nape, which can travel along the hair shaft. Yes, you may look a little dishevelled, but we try not to make you look like you have dragged through a hedge backwards. Scalp massage is so important in many therapies, relieving such a lot of tension as well as hitting all the acupuncture points that can really help rebalance the body. If you spend the whole time worrying about what your hair is going to look like, you won’t enjoy the treatment. So, if you do have to go shopping afterwards, tell your therapist!
Body hair is always an interesting issue.
We know you can’t always plan to have silky smooth legs before each massage, and we don’t care. Honestly, we don’t! We also don’t mind about chipped nail varnish! It’s just cosmetic. We are looking/feeling deeper.
When new clients come to me, I take a moment to allow them to settle on the couch. To ensure they are comfortable. There is no point laying down for a massage with your boobs squished and not re-adjusting. Don’t be afraid to say if you are uncomfortable.
The room should be warm, if you are chilly, say something! There is nothing worse than receiving a massage with an underlying feeling of chilliness.
So, when you are settled in. Take a moment.
Take a moment to feel your breath and how your body is feeling. Feel your be-ing.
If you are lucky enough to have received a Hydrotherm Massage, you will be aware of feeling weightlessness as the warm water filled pillow supports you, while you lie on your back for the whole treatment. If you have a La Stone treatment from me, you will be able to ‘feel’ the stones beneath you and the larger ones nurturing your soul along your midline. Allow yourself to become aware.
If you have practised Mindfulness, you will be able to focus on your breath. FEEL how your rib cage expands. Be AWARE of your body. NOTICE.
Notice the tension.
Notice the breath.
You will notice your breath begin to deepen. You may be aware of certain areas being tense and sore. This is the key. Rather than complain, be aware. Breathe, and allow the tension to subside. The more you focus on your breath, the more the muscle will relax. Obviously if you really are in pain, this would be an area of concern, so please speak up!
Many people ‘go for a massage’, but could get so much more from it if they really became present.
Now, sometimes a massage ends up being a time to catch up….. chat……bear your soul….. put the word to rights. As an experienced therapist I would never tell you to be quiet! Sometimes an off-loading of emotions during a treatment is a good thing, but I would’t be doing my job properly if I didn’t allow you chance to settle. To advise you on how to breathe. Yes, many people don’t. They may practice breath work in yoga and meditation, but they haven’t worked out it can be extended to the massage couch. Get the most from your treatment and breathe.
Be Still. Notice. Enjoy…. and Heal….