The 5 Components That Make Massage a Powerful Healing Tool
Don't tell anyone, but ...
I‘ve got a confession to make. I’ve been really dropping the ball on my own bodywork these last few months. Life, kids, school, schedules, blah, blah, blah … Sometimes it’s hard to make the time or find the energy to arrange the time.
I tend to not realize I’m slipping on self care until it occurs to me that I’ve been prodding at my shoulder a lot lately, I don’t really feel like being around anyone and dang have I been short fused.
I encourage my clients to book their follow up before they leave so that they can avoid that very same thing. I also tend to be pretty bad at taking my own advice. Which means there’s usually a gap between when I realize I need to get some bodywork and when that appointment can actually happen. I spend that time fantasizing about being face down on a table somewhere caught in a limbo of consciousness and pondering the question: what makes a massage so great?
I really do think massage is great.
I’ve got one of those nervous systems that loves to dive out of regulation at the slightest hint of chaos, conflict, overwhelm or sensory overload and I spend a pretty significant amount of energy balancing myself out. There are places and practices I know to turn to as tools to help me maintain a comfortable state of being and massage has always felt the most healing to me.
So what makes a massage so wonderfully healing?
I think of the whole massage experience as broken into five distinct healing components:
The very self loving act of setting aside a chunk of your resources for you and just you during which time you will be asking for and receiving care. This alone is a point of healing.
The deliriously good feeling of having your skin touched in a nurturing, unrushed, no-strings-attached way. Drool.
The physical relief that comes when a persistent ache or pain is alleviated.
The meditative nature of focusing on what you’re feeling in your body which leads to a feeling of calm and allows stress to be released from your body.
The effect of having so many of your senses pleasantly engaged at the same time within a singular experience.
Any one of the five components that make massage so great would be healing on its own, but when combined together within a singular experience? Magic.
And you can feel the magic happening. When your body involuntarily twitches during a session. When you feel a strange kind of buzzing inside your body or a rush of warmth. When you’re in that elusive head space where you’re not quite asleep but you’re not exactly in the room either and time seems to warp.
Then, there’s that surreal post-massage bliss state when your senses seem heightened and you’ve got an “all's right with the world” vibe happening. You get into your car and you’re like damn, life is good if it allowed me that experience I just had.
I like that feeling.
It’s the feeling of a balanced nervous system. A moment in which your flight or fight response has been switched off and you are fully grounded, embodied and in the moment.
It’s one of my favorite feelings in the world and the reason I’ve been doing what I do for so long. Helping someone else achieve that state is part technique, part intuition, part listening to the body and part environment.
The most gratifying part of my work is when someone steps out of my studio with a nearly stunned look on their face and they say something like “Oh. My. god. What just happened?”
I wish us all more of those moments.