I’ve written before about the stigma of massage. I won’t go into it here for two reasons: one being that you can read about it here, and two, because the stigma surrounding massage therapy is hard to break.
Many massage therapists (myself included) have spent a lot of time and energy over the years trying to educate people about what massage therapy isn’t. It’s often felt to me like I am fighting a battle against something that is maintaining solid ground.
That way of thinking and practicing – that I have to fight against something – wasn’t working for me anymore. I had to challenge myself to think of a way for that stigma to still exist and be somewhere in the proverbial “over there,” but remove myself from the conversation surrounding it and practice in a way that aligns with what I feel to be true about the work. Rather than fight against that stigma, I wonder what it would be like to challenge one to see massage in a different light? Instead of saying “here’s what massage therapy is NOT,” what if the conversation was about what is has the POTENTIAL to be?
The answer to this is that massage therapy can have the sort of potential or power that you let it have just like any other person, thing, or event in your life.
You can lay on the table, close your eyes and totally check out for an hour or ninety minutes. There are undoubtedly physical and mental benefits to this. In our self-neglecting, glorified-busy society you will surely benefit from receiving this type of massage.
Or, you can reap the benefits that are going on whether you’re aware of them or not and then use this new awareness to feel into your body and feel into the sensations that perhaps prompted you to schedule the appointment in the first place. Have you ever really explored them? Have you ever asked yourself, What is it that I’m feeling? What does it actually feel like if I were to use descriptive adjectives? What color is this sensation and what might it say if I were to give it space to express what it needed to? Does the language I use to describe this sensation or symptom correlate to another aspect of my life that may not be working for me?
The answers to your inquiry might be incredibly revelatory of how deeper conflicts, burdens, beliefs, and patterns are manifesting themselves in a physical way. While we all have some amount of stress that can show up in common areas such as the neck, shoulders, or back, there is validity as to why some physical issues become chronic.
There is also validity and revelation surrounding the language that we use in talking about these issues. Often times we refer to pain and sensations in the body the same way we might refer to something else that isn’t working in our lives but maybe we weren’t as consciously aware of it.
The body is wise and if we listen to it when it speaks, we can gain insight that even our powerful minds might miss. What sensations have you been feeling in your body lately and what is it you think they may be trying to tell you?
Author: Jenny Bork is a licensed massage therapist who specializes in stress management, chronic pain and movement education. She is currently accepting new clients.