Tips on how to find a good therapist and receive your first massage like a rock star!

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:

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My favorite place to give massage was at Boyd Lodge of Crosslake, MN  ~Yoga 4 You‘s Fall retreat~



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.




22 Body Benefits: Introduction Part 2

And so…

I sharply changed decisions and set my mind on becoming a Massage Therapist.

Since 2008, it was rare even after college, that I hadn’t been nose deep in an Anatomy book instead of pursuing any understanding of my past and the anxiety that came with it. I had spent the majority of my work life and  personal time on helping others feel better instead of confronting the repercussions of childhood sexual abuse and trauma.

I became addicted to the study and practice. Specifically, I was obsessed with curing every chronic case of headaches I came across (that was how my trauma used to manifest in me) so much that when someone wasn’t healing, I expanded my skills and studied Craniosacral therapy.

Even when that resolved the “unsolvable” cases, I needed more than just successful results. I couldn’t just stop at pain-relief and give the muscles the manipulation they needed. I had to become the best at it. I had to redefine my treatment one session at a time until I had such precision and grace of hands that my client was comfortable enough to fall asleep.

Doubt stained my mind until clients started sharing their testimonies:

…there were clients who assured me that they’d seen therapists around the world and that my touch stood out from the rest.

…there were clients who claimed that I changed their life because of the ailment they suffered with for years was gone.

…there were even clients who said I have miracle fingers because I fixed something that their medical doctor was baffled on how to solve.

It finally came time that I saw my quality of practice reached my goals.

I believed I was good, but i finally knew I was good enough to start my own business. Little did i know i was using the feedback as a coping mechanism for a deep-seated issue.

I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome that hadn’t been given recognition since it started earlier than the age of 10, when sexual trauma from a neighbor was discovered and put to a stop.

Because I never reached out and no one inquired, I never resolved any internal conflicts, and a pattern of being a victim emerged instead of being a survivor. I attracted more trauma into my life to the point where I unexpectedly became pregnant from a stranger at the age of 19. Although that night turned my life upside down, and the question of was it rape or not would linger, it was the best thing that could have happened to me. And still, the journey was a series of joyful ups and devastating downs.

I thought re-prioritizing from the outside in was the only way. Diving into the inferno of confusion and back up again with a small piece of clarity.

I started with hope when I pursued church again, which turned into faith. There, a new awareness developed around the battle between what I learned spiritually – that I am loved and that I am enough – and what I falsely learned via the world. Unfortunately, this awareness didn’t stop the pattern of abuse and self-neglect … it just kept me alive.

The trauma was still covered up,  it was still sabotaging my own boundaries and sense of well-being. Before I found a respectful partner, I repeatedly found narcissistic relationships and other detrimental behaviors/beliefs. I was burning out from the inside.

 It wasn’t my hands that were tired. It was my mind that was exhausted.

My family suffered because of it, even my son was being abused by these persons without my knowing, and our victory was jeopardized by the quadrupling affects of repeated trauma untold.

After time this pattern shifted through perseverance and a new self-respect, which I will dive into this essential step in recovery later in this blog.

It seemed I was ready for the entrepreneurial paperwork. I had been in a healthy relationship and there was light at the end of the tunnel for my family to start thriving instead of surviving. Except there was still a block, coping techniques were no longer counteracting the anxiety because there was the stress of starting something new. Thank God I realized this before investing hundreds of dollars into something I wasn’t ready for. I filed away my paperwork and started going within.


I wish I could say this decision that finally steered me (and not just my son) towards therapy was solely due to the abuse that leaked into my family, but it was dyshidrotic eczema that threw me over the edge.

The obnoxiousness of these tiny fluid-filled sacs on my hands, like several pimples jammed into one pore, brought awareness to yet another internal conflict: my primary source of happiness was work. 

Again, my family suffered.

I missed several days of work when my thumb became inflamed. I went in and out of panic attacks during those days when I wasn’t getting my regular fix at work. The infection eventually passed, but what was left were these blisters that would keep coming back.

It wasn’t the agony of the pain, it was the despair of  not reaping the joy that I tried to sew. It was robbing me of my false happiness, therefore my carnal reason for being here.

I magnified an old false belief, a nasty stronghold on my self-worth, that I had no value if I couldn’t put someone else’s needs before mine.

Doesn’t this sound familiar? A woman or a man who fails to put their needs first, like someone who  puts the oxygen mask on others first instead of herself, and reluctantly collapses from the lack of oxygen and prevents them from doing the work they are called to do and those who could have been saved ironically suffer?

As much as the experience brought me to the depths of depression, it also inspired enough courage to receive professional help, and to have enough curiosity to  ask the tough questions that reveal the problem at it’s root.

 What is keeping me from nurturing myself? Why is it so hard to take off the glove and look at the wounds? Why do I resist the reasons behind stress that affects loved ones around me?

So there I was, forced to confront my feelings, forced to acknowledge my despair, and forced to uncover my old pain because it was no longer acceptable that everyone else was suffering too. Therein lay the answer to healing from within and having fulfillment without depending on an outside source. Because we are built to survive. But we are also capable of building a foundation to overcome survival instincts in order to become a whole, self-propelling, and self-healing individual.

And thus, the journey spawned 22 Body Benefits, insight to intuitive and alternative ways to persist through the life of pain and trauma for physical, spiritual, and emotional wholeness.

With this blogs insight, you can have hope that:

  1. There is happiness that is self-reliant.
  2. There is peace after trauma.
  3. You can receive empathy without staying in the pattern of victimization.

Some might call bodywork their job, but it’s my calling as a servant to be a facilitator for the healing and recovering…

…and although we may be Massage Therapy’s biggest advocate, it’s not the only thing out there. Holistic medicine is my passion and I’m here to share it.

So this whole blogging thing isn’t just to express myself or practice my writing, it’s to  give your body, mind, and spirit something natural to choose from.

It’s not to pick sides, it’s to give you all the sides to pick from.


It’s holistic all around and  22 Body Benefits is what we’ll call it.

You may be my client, my friend, or a stranger off the inter-webs (Nice to meet you)…but i think it’s meant to be from the beginning.


Your friend &  Massage Therapist, 

Rachael Ann


22 Body Benefits: Introduction Part 1

I have been too blessed with what I can only describe as divine interventions and transcending experiences to believe it’s a coincidence that we have crossed paths.

I believe… it’s a MIRACLE.

Let me elaborate…

Had I pursued the career I originally intended, we most likely would have never met.

Hi, my name is Rachael. I have been a multi-passionate Massage Therapist with experience in trauma recovery and I created this space to share thoughts and insights with clients, friends, and especially those seeking the vast spectrum of holistic realms, alternative medicine, and self-care tips. 

When the pressure came to explore which profession we’d like as adults, it was important to me that i liked it so much that i would want to spend a lifetime doing it. So i took a construction/building trades class in high school.

We had 2 teachers for 2 hours every morning and spent most of the time outside framing, roofing, and patching up a three bedroom rambler until Christmas came. It was my favorite class and even though I was the only girl, I had several friends. Which to me may have made it bias, so I wanted to be sure of it as a career. So instead of taking art and a homeroom class, I took it a second time.

But that year was seriously different, our pair of teachers became just one due to a budget cut, and without the same friends I had in the first year it then felt like a job. A job where I was an outsider, the lone girl, even though a child-hood bully came to respect me for it, i still had no camaraderie. It was too big of a void to not notice that even though I loved the work, I was miserable. I thrived when I deeply connected with others and was connected to a bigger purpose.

Just before D-day was coming. Just before the great adulthood and beyond was going to rear it’s head in the fall of 2007, I took a school bus with the class to Wadena one more time where they taught the trade. This time, they had a poster standing on a tripod in the middle of the entry way saying Enroll now into Massage Therapy. 

It was then my mother gave me the gift of my first massage, just for the clarification. And although I was determined to spend a life time giving massage, I was nervous about getting one!

I remember how that day began like it was yester-morning:

…a feeling of uncertainty and anxiousness about the whole thing loomed over me, like the spring-soaked trees sulking over the muddy road out to town , as I drove to my massage appointment in Baxter, Minnesota.

First off, i was completely out of my COMFORT ZONE.

I was the girl who made it a goal to get her hands as dirty as a mechanic every weekend. And here i was crossing my legs like a lady, in this luxurious spa. Everything about the place was crisp and finely decorated with layers of marble, silver, and pearl. I felt so out of place. Like a penguin in Africa. Or a random 3-inch hair lurking from one eyebrow.

So when I arrived for my 60 minutes of professional rubbing, I stumbled inside and sat down with my clipboard and pen in hand with barely enough time to read every question. I frantically scribbled and signed just as the therapist welcomed me to the spa with an outstretched hand. Gulp.

  Another reason you wouldn’t expect would make me nervous was that I grew up giving more amateur back rubs than I can count, to my dad and Grandmama, which helped the strain on their backs from all the years of standing behind the counter of an auto parts store.

But as for me, there was quite a contrast; I hadn’t had much more than a back scratch in my life and I had less -than pleasant experiences with physical touch before.

There was no turning back now.

As she instructed me to follow her, my brain wanted to escape from the inside with these thoughts:

“I don’t like being touched…” and ” What if she sees my scars?…” and  “I DIDN’T SHAVE MY LEGS!” (girly gasp)

 As she gestured through the doorway of what was inevitably the threshold between me and an hour of the unknown, I walked what seemed a mile into the next room.

Suddenly, as i stepped into what i feared, any control I thought I had of securing my false modesty was slipping through my fingers with ironic relief. I entered the softness of the room and started to let go: the fresh towels, the sleek linens, and the burning tea candles melted the negative thoughts I had into a distorted and distant memory.

After a few more questions and instructions, she left me in solitude to undress.  It wasn’t anything like I expected.

I’ll admit that I thought it would be like a doctor visit where you strip down under fluorescent lights just to be handed a napkin for a shirt. But alone here, just me and the ambiance of the room, I slipped out of my clothes one piece at a time and lay them in a soft folded pile. Then pocketed myself into the plush blanket, and took a nice deep breath. I surrendered to the experience.

I was meant to be HERE.

  As she began her soothing techniques at the top of my head, I could tell she was a skilled professional. Not just by the unbroken rhythm of her fingertips circling my scalp but by the sensation it deliberately gave me. Being lulled out of tension, I came to a place of stillness I hadn’t experienced before.

With every release of tension her therapeutic hands maneuvered, I became whole…if only for an hour.  

Out of curiosity about her profession – and the new feeling of comfort –  I started asking questions. I don’t remember every answer she gave me, but in that hour that I got to lay on her table and get to know her, I got to know myself.

She  made a confession about her path that was so divine (or meant to be) that it ultimately lead to my own inner healing.

Although she liked what she did – and was certainly good at it – she decided to become a family counselor, because she realized her biggest passion was to help family’s find peace and ease at home together. That’s when her revelation sparked mine and gave way to the same path in Massage Therapy, and one that would eventually circle around to the surrendering I needed to have ease at home and peace within myself.

It was the desire to become more of a servant to others. But it was me who’s self-serving was overdue. It would be another decade before it was my turn to truly heal.

To be continued….