Looking Ahead By Looking Within

Let’s start with you. How you are sitting, or standing—or walking—as you read this? What aspects of your body are you aware of right now? What aspects of yourself are you totally oblivious about?

Now think back to the last massage you gave. Were you aware of your own body as you worked on your client? Were you aware of your own breath? Or the meanderings of your own brain? By the time you got the client’s second leg, were you still focused in the moment? Or did you find yourself making that endless list of all the things that you had to do that evening? Were you waiting for the client’s subscapularis to release, or were you counting the minutes to the end of the session?

I ask these questions with no judgment. I ask these questions because I think they are the key to us creating long and satisfying careers as massage therapists. We all want to learn awesome strokes and the newest techniques. But the best techniques don’t mean much when your thumbs are tingling, or when your back is aching, or when you wake up and dread your next shift, or when your mind is anywhere but in the session you are currently giving.

Our only hope for continuing to do the work we love—or for remembering why we used to love this work!—is to ask these questions. Our only hope is to increase our own awareness of ourselves—to pay as much attention to ourselves as we pay to the client on the table. Our only hope is to attend to our own body, our own brain, our own breath.

After more than a dozen years of massaging and more than a decade of teaching, I believe that the littlest decisions we make each moment have a direct impact on the happiness of our careers, and on our sense of purpose in the world. In other words, I believe that the biggest questions of your life are shaped, moment-by-moment, via your awareness (or lack of awareness) of your body and your brain and your breath.

That’s why I’m here. I think we can all be more satisfied therapists. I think we can all find solutions to the problems that are holding back our careers. And often, those solutions are inside of us already—those solutions are not just in our fingertips, they are in the entirety of us. They are in the way we utilize body, and brain, and breath.

When I pay attention to myself as I work, everything gets better. When I attend to the position of my feet as I make contact with my client, for example, and when I work with an easy exhalation, I am helping that client inhabit her body with greater ease, and helping her move through the rest of her day with a bit more self-awareness. When we begin each session with mindful awareness—focused on all that we are able to do in this moment, and also aware of all that we cannot do, cannot change, cannot fix—we help to shape a world that is a little more self-aware, a little more embodied.

In coming posts I will offer tips that you can incorporate into your very next session, and larger concepts for us to explore.  

And just as our careers mean little without clients to work on, my posts need you in order to be meaningful. Please share your thoughts below or get in touch with me directly (david@bodybrainbreath.com). And subscribe to my newsletter—see link below—to get information about live and home-study continuing education courses and other goodies.