Friday, July 11, 2008

Meditation and Massage

I recently started doing massage at a place. I wouldn't call it a spa, it's someone else's business, they schedule the clients, and I show up to do the massages.

For many therapists, this is not the ideal situation - working when someone else wants you to, often with little to no breaks between clients, and not getting paid as much as you would if you were working for yourself. But I like not having to put any time into it when I'm not there, and so far it's working well.

Except for being exhausted.

It's taking a lot for my body to get used to doing this kind of work to this extent. What does this have to do with spirituality? A discovery I made.

Ascension is designed in such a way that you can use the techniques with your eyes open, or while you're doing activity. So I started using the Ascension techniques while doing massage. The techniques themselves are, in part, meant to bring us into a state of greater awareness. When you're doing basically the same massage routine for several people in a row, several days a week, it's easy to let your thoughts drift. But the techniques help me keep my thoughts from wandering too far off.

I often close my eyes while giving massage for similar reasons - it helps me focus on my sense of touch, so that I'm really feeling the muscles and the tissues beneath my fingertips. When I combine this with the Ascension techniques, I've found myself really sensing my clients' bodies' rhythms. It's almost as if the tissues themselves are telling me how fast (or slow) they want me to move and what would be most helpful to them.

As I do this, I tend to also get more in touch with my own body and how it wants to move to respond to the client's requests. I find I often move more like a Tai Chi practitioner, keeping my arms in closer to my body (so as not to stress joints by over-reaching) which also provides more stability in the massage techniques I'm using. I don't push my own body too hard when I am aware this way, so I find myself less exhausted and less sore after doing massages while using my meditation techniques.

Moving meditations often talk about moving with awareness and the value of really being grounded in our bodies. It amazes me how much of a difference it can make for my experience of giving a massage - I'm still using the same techniques and making basically the same movements - but the potential damage to my body and energy used is vastly different.

It's another one of those things that makes me really consider just how much our mental state, consciousness, and awareness can effect our health and experience of the world.

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