I’ve been practicing massage therapy for 20 years now. Over the past few years, and especially in 2020, I’ve noticed that while my clients come to me with the sole purpose of relaxation and rejuvenation, they often bring up anxiety provoking subjects. This is why I want to talk about the value of mindfulness practice for a better massage.
At the end of June 2020, I returned to work after the “stay at home” order by the government was lifted. I was eager to provide my clients with an escape from the media and social media, to calm their nervous systems, and have a moment of peace. At the beginning, I let people vent, and share their experience about the state of the world. No matter the subject, I was willing to listen. What I learned was this:
People were so involved in the story being presented to us—the one depicted by the mainstream media, and also those on various social media networks. They were so emotionally charged when they spoke of these issues, so much so that I could physically feel their emotional state being transferred to mine. I experienced the political polarization first hand. And to be honest, it began to wear me down. I’ve never been politically active, and do my best to respect all opinions, even if I don’t agree with them. After all, my mission is to provide peace and relaxation.
These days, there aren’t many places you can go to escape the news narrative. I want Body Solace to be a true sanctuary—a place where you leave your worries at the door. I want you to imagine my treatment room as your personal refuge, where you can unplug and retreat. While this is a challenge because we have so many devices at the ready to ding us with the latest headline (which keeps our nervous systems on high alert), we can do our best to be mindful of our thoughts. Mindfulness relaxes our minds, and allows us to drop our awareness to our bodies, which leads to a much deeper massage experience.
In my opinion, I believe these topics can disrupt your massage experience:
From my perspective as a practitioner, these subjects cause more muscle tension, anxiety, sadness, anger, and the like, than anything else. When my clients stop talking and thinking about current events, and turn their attention to their bodies and breath, they get so much more out of a session than those who talk their way through a massage. The ones that can be mindful of the mental chatter tell me they reap all the benefits of massage therapy—better sleep, better digestion, less muscle tension, and an overall sense of relaxation and well-being. This is how mindfulness enhances the massage experience.
Some people have a hard time unplugging from these topics. If this sounds like you, try to follow these tips before your massage appointment (or anytime you want to destress):
- Before you come inside, take a few cleansing breaths in your car. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. You can add a long sigh to the exhale. No one can hear you and it can help you melt away a bit of stress before your massage
- If you have time, write down your thoughts in a journal, on a piece of paper, on a receipt in your car, or a sticky note (then stash it, burn it, recycle it, whatever helps you cleanse your mind)
- take a brief walk outside, noticing the beauty around you while acknowledging the peace of nature
- Call someone you love and ask if you can vent
My suggestion to clients—people paying with their hard-earned money to come in and relax, is to focus on breathing, and what’s actually happening in the present moment. This is mindfulness. If one of these subjects is directly affecting you or a family member, of course I want to be able to help you ease your burden. As we all know, there’s plenty of time outside my “sanctuary” to plug back in to the news reel. But, for the entire duration of your massage session, wouldn’t it be nice to leave your worries at the door?