I tend to refrain from the 5 ways to ____, 10 steps to ___, 4 weeks to ___, when I write but there is definitely an upside to making a list like that to bullet point a case. It's helpful and useful and the organization of it helps our brain to remember.
As I am digging deeper and deeper into the intricacies of the fascia (the largest most continuous system in our bodies), more into incorporating cups and tools into my bodywork sessions, and more into inviting breath and sensory awareness with my clients, I wanted to write about getting the most out of your massage. Lately, I notice people are getting more out of their massage by what I am doing so this post is to help you get the most out of your massage by knowing what you can do. Whether it's with me or someone else, my hope is that one of these bullet points will resonate with you and help enhance your session on and off the table. By noticing your own patterns, then adjusting them as needed, you are the one who gets to decide how long the benefits last.
Silence is golden.
I totally understand that talking can help people to relax. I also understand that tourists come in and they're so excited about being in Moab that they take their massage time to get to ask questions about the surrounding area. I get that people want to connect verbally and get to know each other or share some aspect of themselves. I have had some of the absolute best conversations of my life with people on the table where both of us leave inspired and energized, amazed at the fate that brought us together for this incredible exchange.
If your intention is to talk and connect in that way then that is 100% awesome because that's your goal for the session. But for others, where it's chit chat or you have something you need to get off your chest or you'd really like to be quiet but nervous talk is a habit, then I encourage you to take 5 or 10 minutes at the beginning to do just that, get it all out and then make space for silence. Try to commit to silence and stillness, allowing your brain and body to cross over the analytical mind of talking and thinking so it can enter into a more restorative and receptive state of being.
Let yourself be moved.
I love a good play on words and I love when people are moved on an emotional/spiritual level but in this case, I actually quite literally mean to let yourself be moved physically. Do not try and help by anticipating where the therapist is going to move your arm or which side they're going to turn your neck. As best as you can, give all of your body weight to the therapist.
When you try to move, you're #1 - contracting your muscles and unless it's for a specific activation/release technique, it's not useful, in fact, it's creating tension and resistance which is what we're trying to create less of and #2 - you're not letting yourself relax. This is not the time to do, this is the time to be and to receive. We all want to relax but it actually takes practice to let go and then let go some more. This is the time to practice that - that's your job on the table - letting yourself be moved.
Sense and feel.
This seems obvious but you'd be surprised. Our minds are so strong that we're often thinking, helping, or talking on the table rather than sensing and feeling. When we're sensing and feeling, we're not thinking.
So give your brain something to do. Counting inhales to a count of 5 and exhales to a count of 5 is one of those things we can give the brain to do. I also like to begin sessions without moving, but rather just placing my hands on the places where people are stuck or needing balance and asking people to take a breath into my hands, into these places. Combine counting inhales and exhales with sensing and feeling and you'll be dropping into your theta brain waves in no time. This is the space where we get in the zone.
Bring an intention or mantra into your session.
Speaking of Theta.. a lot of people come in and I get the feeling that they think they're broken, they need fixed, they're expecting something outside of them (in this case me) to fix them. I can't begin to tell you the amount of energy I freed up in my work when I stopped mirroring that back to people. Now I know the truth of the universe: that our original most natural state is that we are whole and complete. When we're in pain, injured, experiencing chronic tension - we are experiencing symptoms that let us know we're simply out of balance. Some much more than others, for sure, holding the effects of stress (emotional, chemical, postural/physical stress, etc) and exhaustion in our bodies until it has shaped it into what it is now. But just as every choice has brought us to the current moment we're living, we can choose to believe we can heal (i.e. come back into balance) and then make choices to support that belief. Becoming aware of our patterns and then creating new ones are crucial in this journey.
What I know for absolute sure that I can do is provide an incredible healing environment and facilitate and guide clients to move into a different brain wave state - from high beta where we're analyzing, thinking, stressing - into a more healing brain wave like theta, the deeply replenishing zone where you're half awake/half dreaming. In theta, your body comes back to balance because it's #1 not stressed and #2 is getting deep rest. Remember, your body knows order and wholeness, that's its original natural state - all it needs is the perfect environment to get there. Whether it's on the table or just going there in your mind through a guided meditation, it's a state of deep renewal where the nervous system re-establishes homeostasis or balance. There's a vital life force within us that knows what to do.
If you can schedule in some time before your session to get clear on a belief or thought you'd like to bring in to the session that reinforces your power as a creator of your reality, that you can heal, that when you replenish your energy your body will replenish you, that you are not broken, then you will get much more out of your session than if you come in unfocused and without direction.
Give yourself time to integrate and embody your new state.
After your body has had the chance to heal and renew itself you will experience having more energy than you had before. Real energy, not stimulated from caffeine or sugar or excitement, but actual energy your body can use. Theta waves are extremely relaxing but they're also energizing. So give yourself some time after your session to integrate. Try not to schedule something right after where you have to rush off and go back to your old, frenzied self.
Honor your session and yourself with some space and keep sensing "This is what it feels like to be out of pain. This is what it feels like to be balanced and in order. This is what it feels like to feel connected. This is what it feels like to be awake and relaxed. I am experiencing this now and I can experience this any time I want." Go for a short walk around the block before getting into your car, and become conscious of inhabiting your body, embodying wholeness, your natural state.
Dr. Joe Dispenza says that being in pain, stressed, suffering, sick - these are alternative states or altered states. We think feeling euphoric, happy and pain-free is an altered state after our session, but really feeling awake yet relaxed, peaceful, and balanced - these are our natural states. So give yourself some space after your session to embrace your new (but original) state of body, mind and spirit.
Take care of yourself.
Drink lots of water to flush out toxins and rehydrate all of your tissues.
Eat foods that are also in their whole and complete state.
Take an epsom salt bath.
Journal and write down toxic beliefs and thoughts that exhaust you and also write down hydrating beliefs and thoughts that feed you.
Go for a short walk walking as the person you want to embody.
Do some light stretching.
Do something creative that makes you happy.
And then drink some more water.