Why Should I Pour?
The longer I teach Pour Don’t Push, the more I answer the same series of questions from curious therapists. These questions come out in many different ways, but they all boil down to the two key queries:
“Why should I try something new? I’ve already been a massage therapist for [insert #] years?”
“How will the pouring principle fit into my current work?”
Here, I want to try and answer those questions, for those of you who are curious about working with me, either in person or online, or just want to know a bit more about the pouring principle.
In Pour Don’t Push, both in the in-person version and the online version, you and I will get back to basics. I will remind you of two of our most powerful, and most frequently forgotten, tools: your breath and your body weight. As we work together, you will learn how you can:
Use your body weight instead of excess muscular effort.
Use your whole body more in order to tax the most injured parts of the body less.
Cultivate an awareness of your breath.
Become more aware of your unconscious habits.
Develop new and more beneficial habits, that enable you to work both with greater depth and greater ease, and that enable you to massage mindfully.
Develop the habit, in other words, of pouring, rather than pushing.
I think that us massage therapists are often too good at our jobs. Meaning: we care too much. We are too determined to make our clients feel better. The result: we work too hard. We try to push our clients into feeling better. We all know what happens next: we ache; we burn out; we tune out; we get frustrated when our clients don’t appreciate that they have just received the most amazing massage ever. Today you will start to un-learn those habits that have become unconscious and counterproductive, and you will start to re-learn what first made you love massage.
Instead of pushing, what if we use the principle of pouring to make contact with our client? Instead of muscling, what if we “melt” into our client? Instead of forcing our client to change, what if we see ourselves as facilitating whatever change the client is ready for? Today, you will rediscover the power of your body weight and your breath. These are the tools that allow us to serve our clients most effectively, and yet are what we so often forget. The longer we work, the more we tend to rely on our muscles, the more we become convinced that we need to force our client into letting go. But here we will remind ourselves of our own best instincts; we will re-learn a way to work that allows us to work as light or as deep as the client needs, but that requires less effort.
My goal is to offer you concrete ways to become a more perceptive, more effective, therapist. You won’t learn a “new” method of massage, but rather, you will learn a bedrock principle that will transform the work you are already doing. You will become more aware of how you are contacting the client, and more aware of how you can alter your own work, and tweak your body mechanics, in order to be less tense and more full of ease, in order to use more of your most effective tools—your body weight and your breath—and less of your most injured tool—your muscles. In the process, you will feel how you are able to deepen your pressure as you need, while you also deepen your connection to the work.
As you become more aware of the movement of your own body, you also become more aware of how the client is reacting to that movement. As we pour, rather than push, we can feel with greater subtlety the tension and tightness in the client’s body. As we engage the client using greater depth with less force, more ease with less effort, our work is both easier and more fruitful. We are not forcing change, but creating the conditions where change occurs. We become facilitators of change, rather than the expert telling the client’s body what to do.
When we pour rather than push, we find the strength in ease, and we remember how to be our own most effective therapists.
I am not going to show you the “right way” to massage. Because of course, there is no one “right way” to massage—just as there is no such thing as “perfect posture,” and just as there is no one definition of proper body mechanics. Instead, what is essential is recognizing our temptation to become stagnant, to become locked in one position, to become stuck (and as a result, to work too hard); instead, we need to cultivate our capacity for easy, flowing, full-body movement—and an easy, flowing, full-body breath.
Throughout this course, we talk about your body, and your brain, and your breath. At times, this three-part emphasis can seem confusing. One minute we’ll be talking about the position of our hips; the next minute we will be talking about a concept of mindfulness. It can feel like a lot to keep track of all at the same time.
But what I want to emphasize is that these three are inextricably linked. I think that a major reason we get injured and burn out is because we don’t think about these three parts of ourselves altogether. We think that we can just take care of our bodies, without paying attention to our thoughts and our emotions, and vice versa.
My aim is to show you that paying attention to your body makes it easier to pay attention to your brain, and that paying attention to your brain makes it easier to pay attention to your body. As you become more aware of the thoughts and emotions and distractions that emerge as you give a massage, you’ll become more aware of how the position of your shoulders is creating excess tension. Rather than body and brain being two separate things, these two elements of ourselves actually gain strength from the other, and build together into a happier, healthier whole.
What I hope to demonstrate is that you have a built-in tool that makes all of this possible, that is waiting to help you foster your awareness: the breath. As you will see again and again, the breath is the hinge—the breath is the link—between brain and body. By becoming more aware of your breath, you will be able to engage your body more effectively, and engage your brain more effectively. As we foster an awareness of these three crucial aspects of ourselves, I hope you will find the incredible capacity for change and growth that is already within you.
Take a look at the free preview for Pour Don’t Push. Other questions? Ask away.