It was in 2007 when her mother divinely gifted her a massage, her FIRST massage. It was just before graduation, and she was already signed up for the construction program at a technical college an hour away from where she lived.
Hiya, my name is Rachael!
I am a multi-passionate Massage Therapist and I created this slightly narratated space to share thoughts and insights with friends, clients, and especially those seeking the vast spectrum of holistic realms, alternative medicine, and self-care tips.
While anticipating her first massage, a feeling of uncertainty and anxiousness about the whole thing loomed over her as she drove to the appointment.
About to turn the full age of 18 in a month, she strutted her adolescent manner into the spa and fumbled to the front desk as she arrived just five minutes before her 60 minutes of professional rubbing. Panic hit her like a lightening rod in the chest when she was handed a health history form to fill out.
Plan enough time to linger, relax, and get your environment soaked in! Don’t be like me and come runnin into your appointment with no extra time to even use the bathroom! Every minute counts and depending on their employer can only extend their session by a few minutes to accommodate you, so don’t take time away from you on the table!
Besides, she was completely out of her comfort zone.
She was the kind of girl who would watch her brother and father work on cars, explore the woods and study bugs. But as she was sitting with lady-like legs (crossed instead of leached forward and her butt at the end of the chair) waiting with a glass of delicious Aveda
tea, she was out of her normal realm in such a luxurious spa.
If this is your first massage:
Don‘t wait for someone to get you a gift card, especially if you have high-anxiety in new places. You want to find a cozy location that fits just your style, call ahead of time or find their facebook page for pictures and reviews.
Over the last ten years of practice, I have been immersed in all kinds of atmospheres from homey chiropractic offices to beautiful cabins in northern Minnesota.
Everything about the place was crisp and finely decorated with layers of marble, silver, and pearl. She felt like a penguin in Africa. Or a random 3-inch hair lurking from one eyebrow. Just out of place. Like when her mother suggested becoming a cheerleader like her older cousin (she’d been practicing for years and literally had a 6-pack) but she was too reserved back then in the self-expression department.
She frantically scribbled answers to the series of questions and signed just as the therapist stepped out of a hallway and welcomed her to the spa with an outstretched hand.
While shaking hands with the professional, she wondered “I haven’t had much more than a back scratch in my life, is this strangers hand going to touch my whole body?” but there was no turning back now and she didn’t have the courage to ask.
It’s okay to ask.
A good massage therapist will not be bothered by any questions. We were taught to be professionals, and most of us are very compassionate by nature. We realize that this session is about you and should understand that your first time with them will be a crucial impression on the world of bodywork and even on the concept of personally receiving itself. Getting a massage can be the most vulnerable thing for some people to do. But it is always okay to ask questions, you are telling them how they can best serve you, not how to do their job. Besides, I love questions! But what about personal issues…
Her brain wanted desperately to escape as the massage therapist instructed her to follow and she began to panic again.
She thought…“do i have to get naked”…” What if she sees my scars?”…and .. “I didn’t shave my legs!” (girly gasp)
Hey, NO body is perfect.
And we’re not here to judge on fashion, appearance or anything but the level of ethical behavior we exchange during our time together. In fact, we don’t expect men to shave their legs so why should women? Oh, and ladies… if you are having that wonderful time of the month – you know – don’t worry about opting out of glut work or having to leave your undies on. You don’t even have to mention it if you don’t want to.
*Undressing and talking in general is whatever makes you feel comfortable. But having less clothes on means more muscles worked on, and I highly recommend glut work for those whose hips or lower backs bother them.*
As she was gestured into the doorway of what was inevitably the threshold between her and the session she was about to receive, she walked what seemed like a mile into the unknown.
Then, she reluctantly let herself enter the softness of the room and let go: the fresh towels, the sleek linens, and the burning tea candles melted the negative thoughts she had into a distant memory. Suddenly, any unnecessary control she thought she had of securing her modesty was slipping through her fingers with ironic relief.
After a few more questions and instructions, she was left to undress in solitude. It wasn’t anything like she expected.
I’ll admit… I thought it would be something like a doctor visit where you strip down under fluorescent lights just to be handed a napkin for a shirt.
But alone there, just her and the ambiance of the room, she slipped out of her clothes one piece at a time and into the plush blanket like a glove, taking a deep steady breath as she lay.
She sighed to herself “I am meant to be here.”
One of things I have learned about personally receiving and bodywork, is that the best way to transition is through your breath. Very few therapists do this at all, but I usually like to guide my clients through deep breathing to start, that way it can help any anxiety you brought with you to leave.
As the massage therapist began her soothing techniques she could tell she was a skilled professional. Not just by the unbroken rhythm of her fingertips circling her scalp but by the sensation it deliberately gave her as the pair of hands danced around her tight shoulders with aid of oil, kneading and pulling, recognizing any resistance and adjusting the pressure applied. Her hands adapted to the curves of her body like a tailored jacket, leaving her skin soft and her muscles oozing.
Being lulled out of tension, I came to a place of stillness I hadn’t experienced before. This is how you should feel once their hands have touched you. One of the things i was extensively trained in as a Cranial Sacral Therapist was palpation, the ability to “see” with my fingertips. For example, feeling a single hair behind the page of a book. With practice, massage therapists should become accustomed to the way the body moves to defense. And still, feedback was my biggest teacher and communication is an essential tool to receiving the right amount of pressure. Every body is different and everyone needs to express their tolerance during bodywork.
So now that the basics for receiving massage are covered…and you’ve gotten a taste on how to recognize a good massage, lets help you find the massage you want based on your particular needs.