Sunday, October 23, 2011
Feel the love
There are people who are very suspicious of therapeutic massage. How can it be therapeutic when it doesn't hurt? Of course there are massage therapists who will hurt you, if that's what you need in order to feel you are benefitting from a session. I am not of that school of thought.
When I receive massage, the last thing I want to experience is discomfort of any kind. I don't want to be sore afterwards, or bruised. I want my therapist to warm my muscle attachments, push my blood and lymph through my tissues, smooth and knead my muscles in a way that creates a lot of sensation and the possibility of release. A top-notch massage helps me breathe more deeply, let go of excess tension, extraneous thoughts and cares. I look for an hour of peace on the table. If it hurts, that takes me out of the precious experience of true relaxation, which is the only condition in which deep healing can occur.
Should say, neither am I a fan of very light Swedish massage which feels to me as if the therapist is applying lotion or sunscreen to the very most superficial layer of skin. I can do that myself.
One reason massage is relaxing is because it creates so much sensation that the brain is flooded with information. At some point, there is too much information to process, after which the brain gives up. Ahhh, what a relief!
Beware of a therapist who asks if you like light, medium, or deep pressure. That conveys to me that the therapist is not going to be tuned in to my body. What I always say when asked that question is that I like light pressure in some areas, medium pressure in other areas and deep pressure in yet other areas. If I'm feeling feisty I will then say, "Please pay attention to what's going on in my tissues, thanks."
In order to truly let go of the sturm und drang of it all, you have to be fully relaxed. If you're on the table, thinking Ouch! Is she going to do that same thing to my other arm? you will be missing out on one of the greatest benefits of massage: bliss.
Pleasure, bliss, relaxation, or a shift in the nervous system from sympathetic to para-sympathetic - however you wish to think about it - is a state in which the brain integrates and recalibrates the neural network. If you experience the bliss of relaxation during a massage, your brain and body are more likely to think of relaxation as a good thing. Considering the crazy lives we live, it behooves all of us to think perhaps less fondly of the adrenalin rush that accompanies stress, more fondly of the benefits of letting go.
Feel the love on the massage table, take deep breaths, let go. You will not regret it! Shalom.