Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Letting go...

Some people just can't let go during bodywork. They can't let go of the tension in their muscles or the worries in their heads or their expectations of what the experience will become in the next moment. Whatever they can't let go of, it often gets in the way of me doing my job.

Mind you, I am not trying to make it all about me, the therapist. Really it's all about you, the person I am working on. My comfort and ease in and around my job makes for a better massage or watsu experience for my guest. If I stand with poor posture, I can't get enough depth into muscle tissue to work knots out. If I am nervous because the guest keeps asking me overly personal, leading questions then my focus is no longer on my guest but on myself. Every choice I offer to you, my guest, once you are in the spa, is based on your personal preference. I'm only going to offer choices that work for me, so whatever you choose will be fine for me. That is one of the best tricks I have learned over the years: learn how to do something a few different ways in order to give people options that will work for me.

Watsu really challenges me in this regard. And not in a way you would think. Despite having to move someone's body through the water, the buoyancy provided by the water takes away much of the stress bodywork and massage puts on my body. The caveat is that the person has to surrender to the support of the water. When a person is relaxed, limp even, their bodies are easily manipulated, moved in and by the water. I was taught to work with the water in generating movement without it seeming forced or putting undue stress on the body, both mine and my guest's. Imagine the way kelp moves in the ocean; smooth, organic and effortless. That's the way you should look and feel when you are receiving watsu.

Perhaps there is a mild fear, either of water or of having to trust a stranger to support you in the water. Sometimes, people will make their legs stiff and straight during watsu in what is often an attempt to stay afloat. Doing this makes the person more difficult to move and stretch, causing me to be more forceful in my movements, and thereby less relaxed myself. This always transmits from my hands and body to the recipient. Pulling the head up out of the water by bringing chin to chest is another common thing that people instinctively want to do if they feel like they are sinking too far into the water. Ironically, this will cause your hips to sink lower and cause your head to slip a bit out of my hands.

Sometimes there is an expectation of alertness or assistance. It is quite difficult to convince people that the best way to help is by not helping. It's human nature to help someone who is helping or being kind to you. In this case, it is not selfishness, it's a beautiful thing to let me do all the work, because it's really not work at all if you relax and let go.

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