1. To be in the know, you must be in the NOW.
Before you begin offering your nurturing touch to your partner, take about five minutes or so to clear your mind chatter and to prepare yourself for the healing work you’re about to practice. We often forget just how powerful our minds are. The intention of love, compassion and healing is the only intention that I believe deserves to be there when you’re giving massage and bodywork to someone.
In order for your partner to fully let go and benefit from the work, it’s recommended that you work with the intention of providing them with the gift of touch and serenity. Be as present as possible and use your breath to guide you, checking in with it often. Consciously deepen your breath while working. As humans, we have the tendency to be robot-like when performing tasks in which the mind or body feels is tedious, so it’s crucial to be present so that you can tap into your true healing powers, the same healing powers that come from a clear intention in your heart. Sometimes, we even live our lives on auto-pilot doing the same tasks each day. I remember when I used to drive home from work every day without even being aware of how exactly I made it home. I was so consumed with thoughts and disconnected from my body that I didn’t even notice the actual journey. My body knew the way home and so my mind was able to just focus on thoughts. It’s almost as if I was multi-tasking! And isn’t multi-tasking the complete antithesis of mindfulness? So just check in with yourself from time to time to make sure you’re not just physically moving your hands in repetitive patterns and instead that you fully present, connected and guided by the wisdom of your body and heart; where your actions are coming from your intuitive self. The same part of yourself that healing, love and compassion stem from.
2. The wisdom of the body conquers all.
I always tell my massage students the following: “If you’re getting tired and your hands or back hurts while giving a massage, you’re doing it all wrong.” It’s super important to use your body weight properly (a.k.a. Utilizing proper body mechanics) so that you don’t cause yourself discomfort or pain which will cause your work to suffer. If you do find yourself getting tired, adjust your body in a way that will allow you to let go and relax. Make sure that your partner is low enough so you can drop your body weight onto them. Always lean in from your core/center, rather than using your arm and finger muscles. Do your best to direct the energy and force from your core, right above your navel, so that less muscular force is needed. Always move with ease, comfort and grace. Be aware of your shoulders and neck as you work, so your shoulders don’t become earrings and so your neck is in a neutral position. And don’t forget; if you’re working hard and getting tired, your partner might not be able to fully accept the work from you because they just might feel bad that you’re killing your hands to give it to them!
3. Unconditional touch is unconditional love.
Remember that offering your touch as a massage is a “self-less” practice that stems from unconditional love. The less you think about yourself and what you enjoy when someone gives you a massage, the more healing you provide for your partner. It’s all about your partner’s body and reducing their tension.
Ask yourself the question: “What does their body need right now and what would they enjoy?” Just because you may enjoy an elbow in your back doesn’t mean they do. As for pain, it doesn’t have to be painful. I don’t know about you, but when I’m showing love to someone, I’m not giving them pain in the process. Remember that it doesn’t need to be painful and uncomfortable to be beneficial. Sometimes, working too deep can actually cause more discomfort for the recipient.
Practice using your intuition to figure out what they like and what their body/muscles needs. If you’re having a hard time tuning in and figuring it out, then just ask! You can always ask them what it is that they like. Just don’t ask too much because it can get annoying sort of like the waiter in the restaurant who comes by way too often asking you if all is good. Practice trusting yourself a bit more so eventually, you don’t need to ask at all, you will just know.
4. Where less is always more.
Giving the best massage ever does not necessarily mean that you know how to perform many different massage strokes and techniques. Rather than possessing a quantity and range of methods, I honestly believe that it’s way better to practice quality work with just a few types of techniques. Ask yourself the question: “Could I be doing less and getting the same results?” Simply use the techniques that you know and do well- the ones that don’t get you as tired- rather than trying to “show off” your skills with multiple methods.
Also, practice working slower. Rather than working fast and doing lots of different strokes, try doing less and working slower; much slower. Hold compressions for longer than you normally would. This allows the muscles the time to truly let go. Working super slow also reduces the nervous system response and provides it with the support it needs to effectively release the muscles. You can also remind your partner to use their breath so that you can release their muscles more effortlessly.
Also, massaging muscles that are not tight can often feel like a waste of time. You only need to briefly show them “love” and move on to the areas that feel tense, as most of us find it boring to have someone working on muscle regions that have no tension in them and are completely healthy in terms of elasticity.
5. Find your bliss.
For me, giving a massage can be just as fun as getting one. Yes, really! Remember that when you give massage, you should do your best to let go of your agenda and have fun. Use the time to meditate as you let go of your thoughts and allow yourself to be guided by your intuition. Rather than thinking about what to do next, just do your best to feel and use your sense of touch more. Trust yourself and be confident. Don’t worry too much about whether or not you are practicing the technique correctly. Remember that massage is not just a science, it’s also an art.
Don’t be afraid to get creative and play with trying new things. As long as you’re always working with ease and comfort as well as providing your partner good vibes, you’re doing a great job!