Although the benefits of massage are as varied as the number of people who receive massages, what inspires me most about massage is the part it can play in one’s process of self-revelation. Many sages throughout the ages have proclaimed of how true happiness, wisdom, and mastery of this thing called life abound in those who know thyself.Our society is finally coming full circle and realizing that thyself is not, and never was split up into two or more separate sections of body and mind. As we experience life, the activities of our day are imprinted not only within our psyche, but our body as well. Even stressors that we normally wouldn’t see as being deeply connected to the body, such as the stress of maintaining clear boundaries in our relationships, are embedded within specific areas of our body. Over the past four decades, researcher Lizbeth Marcher and her team in Denmark have assiduously correlated almost every muscle in the body with certain psychosocial issues. Hence, in ones’ attempts to know thyself, it is fruitful to not only look at one’s psyche, but also at the silent whispers and stories of our own body.
At a muscular level, the body responds to large or repeated stressors in one of two ways: it either becomes resigned with the quality of being flaccid, or gets stuck holding on and takes on the quality of rigidity (1.) In both scenarios, the more compromised along one of these paths a muscle is, the more of an increased loss of awareness to that area. If certain stressors have been large or repeatedly experienced over time, the more likely areas of our body will be out of our awareness. In addition, as our world becomes increasingly stress-filled and mechanical, and less supportive and nurturing, the more life stressors effect us, and the more we lose awareness of our body.
Massage has the ability to bring awareness to areas of our body and to start a cycle of no longer repressing the communication with our bodies, but rather listening to it tell it’s story. Massage can also work to strengthen and enliven flaccid muscles and to release and relax rigid, tight muscles. In this manner, massage is able to change the muscular and neural patterns developed from not only the previous months, but with sustained work, those patterns imprinted from much earlier ages as well. This is where lasting, crucial benefits of massage lie which inspire me. Thru releasing pain and tension, expanding one’s awareness of one’s body, and then working to create lasting shifts in one’s way of being, brand new possibilities await. That, for me, is inspiring.
1. Bernhardt, P., Bentzen, M., Isaacs, J. (2004) Waking the body ego, Part 1.
In Macnaughton, I. (Ed), Body, breath, & Consciousness.Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.