This weekend I volunteered at the 9-11 Healing and Remembrance event for first responders and families of those who lost their lives on 9-11. I loaded the massage chair in my car and drove to the Sheraton Hotel in Crystal City, where the event was held. (I had some misgivings about burning fossil fuels driving to a 9-11 anniversary event, but that’s not the subject of this blog.) I wondered how I would handle the atmosphere at the event. How should I approach my work? What could I bring to the massages to make them the best possible experience for these very deserving people?
This is among the most fundamental questions in massage therapy – What is it that I bring to each session? My training gave me technical skills. I can name the various techniques used in the field, from effleurage to elbow compressions. I can point out your olecranon process. I can identify contraindications. It took time to develop these skills, but it will be much harder to learn to leave behind what I don’t need. I will spend the rest of my life learning how to bring my bag of skills but leave my baggage.
One of my best massage days – a day when I got some of the best feedback I have ever received – was a day that I showed up at the spa in a massive funk. How does that work? I looked back afterward and I remembered that, before the session I sat down at the head of the table and was absolutely certain that I had better just drop everything and let something deeper and bigger than my little self do the doing that day.
How could I understand and empathize with the experiences and feelings of those who sat in my massage chair at the 9-11 Remembrance event? It’s a trick question! As a massage therapist, that information is a distraction. I bring the skills that I have learned, I tune-in to compassion, and then I try to get out of the way so that something bigger can emerge.
Kim Magraw is a licensed massage therapist offering deep tissue and Swedish massages here at the Spa at Tranquil Space. To make an appointment with Kim, book online or call the studio to check availability.