by Kyle Riebeling, LMT
thoughtfulness and surprise can greatly increase the impact of gift giving because it deepens the awareness of the recipient. Gift giving creates a space of consciousness in which emotions, intellectual interpretations and concepts begin to form a matrix of experience that can be intentionally created by the gift-giver. This kind of generosity creates a mental space of appreciation, love and acknowledgement. In this mental space, a giver and a recipient can share the experience of love and gratitude as a very real presence.
One thing I have learned from my experience as a wellness professional at The Healing Arts Center is that when it comes to massage or any therapeutic modality, the conscious space of service delivery matters. In fact, you could say that it is critical. This is such a huge part of The Healing Arts Center's philosophy that we go to great length to create our unique style of compassionate space even in our Massage Essentials workshop (a sample massage therapy class for prospective students looking at massage therapy training). For years, HAC has followed a "consciousness first" philosophy. The first thing that every HAC student learns is meditation. We have two orientations for new students. The first explains rules and operational procedures and the second is what we call "cultural orientation". During cultural orientation new students are invited to explore how to intentionally create the consciousness of a healer. In our world, a "healer" is a person who is motivated by compassion to intervene in the being of another in order to create health, wholeness and hopefully happiness. This is a very serious subject with us.
The body and the mind are inseparable when it comes to generating the human experience. One cannot be truly healthy if the other is not truly healthy. This has very important implications for the delivery of therapeutic services. There is no way for a massage therapist to truly improve health outcomes if they are working only on the human body as if it is some sort of machine, or worse, of piece of meat. And this brings me to the point: a truly professional therapist is not just working on the body, but rather intentionally creating a conscious space of compassion, healing and well-being that he or she shares with the client. It is essential to learn how to impact health on the level of whole being.
In a professional setting the massage therapist initially gains a sense of how to aid the client through assessment, conversation, and touch. We are looking for information not just about the condition of the body, but for the condition of whole being. For the therapist that knows how to look, the information is always available. There could be signs of tension, stress, pain, lack of range of motion, anger or sadness. It is this awareness that the initiates the therapeutic relationship.
Being fully present with the client and adding to the space this that will make a difference in their being is our high art. It can start by simply creating a compassionate and nurturing atmosphere for the entire therapist-client interaction. Massage therapy works on physical, emotional and mental levels. If the therapist is working on a client while contemplating a marital dispute, that distraction becomes part of the conscious space whether they say something or not. It is, in my opinion, inappropriate to see a person only as a body thereby ignoring the depth of experience, thoughts and emotions that are within each and every one of us. Everyone knows that massage therapy aids the physical body, but when we ignore the ontological implications of impact on whole being we are dumbing-down the experience and missing a very important opportunity to make a difference for our clients. All throughout the conscious delivery of the massage experience the therapist can draw from his or her deep understanding of anatomy, technique, experience and state of mind in order to provide the maximum possible benefit.
It is in a stillness of spirit that awareness, compassion and knowledge fuse, allowing the therapist to intuitively tune in, adjust and work with the client thereby providing the space to cause release, relief and well-being. For me, this is one of the most interesting and satisfying aspects of massage therapy. My experience has shown me that it makes all the difference with my clients as well.
I teach Basic Technique which is the very first massage class that our students take in our Massage Therapy Training Program. I also often assist the hands-on portion of our Massage Essentials workshop. The students that I encounter are, as a consequence, usually people who are new to massage. Sometimes, I encounter students who may have never even had a professional massage before. It is my job, from the very beginning, to develop the very foundation of what The Healing Arts Center says whole-being massage therapy is. It is often a magical experience for those experiencing this holistic massage for the first time. Like all of my colleagues at HAC, I believe that human beings have a profound need for safe, appropriate, caring touch. We may think that we out grow this as we evolve into adulthood, but it is, in my experience, simply not true. When my clients get to experience whole-being massage, profound human touch, their consciousness changes. While I appreciate the joy and gratitude that comes to mind for them, it is the beauty of their wholeness, their health and happiness that is my true reward.
The next time you want to give someone a gift that will give rise to beneficial consciousness, consider the gift of profound touch. The great thing about touch is that it works its magic in both directions between the touchor and touchee, so to speak. Take a moment to slow down and recognize the profundity of all that is happening. And if it is in your heart to do so, savor with gratitude and joy what it is to be present to the being of another in body and in mind.
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