Friday, March 9, 2012

I don't get it.

Is massage a luxury? A friend of mine believes so, and she isn't the only one to hold that opinion. As a massage therapist, also as a receiver of massage over many decades, I do not consider it a luxury. No matter how high minded I might think myself to be, I am also an animal, and the animal of my body needs touch. My muscle attachments need to be warmed up in ways not possible by stretching (something I also believe is not a luxury). My lymph system does not have a pump, hence massage means my lymph will be circulated. On the table I can collect my thoughts, release tension, gather my wits about me. Massage is a powerful experience that has been proven in dozens, maybe even hundreds, of studies to increase immunity, lower blood pressure, reduce insomnia, anxiety, and pain. When I receive massage it helps me remember to occupy my body. I become aware of the smaller strains, aches and pains I would usually ignore. During massage (and because I receive it regularly), I am able to address the totality of me. Recently I read that even M.D.s are now being instructed on how to touch their patients therapeutically because it increases the chances of a quicker recovery. So how is it that therapeutic touch is still seen as a luxury?

I think it must be because massage isn't painful, that it brings calm and sometimes even bliss into the mind/body of the person receiving. Bliss itself is healing, and a state of calm is an absolute necessity in the midst of the crazy world we inhabit.

I guess this falls into the category of what a person chooses to do with money left over after paying the mortgage and buying food. I know people who love buying clothes but say they "can't afford" to go out to dinner, or those who dine out four nights a week but say they "can't afford" new clothes. The decision about where and how to spend what's left after the bills are paid is a clear indicator of a person's values.

When I miss a massage appointment for one reason or another, I notice how stiff I feel, I develop cricks in my neck, my lower back aches. I always think to myself, "Oh. This is how other people of my age feel all the time." I mean those who do not receive massage. It makes me sad to think how many people suffer with chronic pain because they think massage is a luxury.

I value my good health above every other concern, hence I "can afford" massage and receive it regularly. Needless to say, I love seeing my clients before and after they receive massage. If you could see how much they shift during that experience, you too would be puzzled by the idea that massage is a luxury. Oh yeah.

May you take good care of yourself in whatever way you believe to be right. May you feel happy, calm, flexible. Shalom.

1 comment:

Kerry said...

I have never had a massage ( I just wrote "message" isn't that funny?) but I will some day. I will. I just never grew up with it, never was around others who regularly had massages, and it just hasn't been a part of my experience. But I know from doing yoga stretches that it's a wonderful feeling to be aware of all parts of my body, to stretch and relax, to be aware of the body's needs.

Sometimes I live so much in my head that I forget that I have a body, and I know that's not so good.