Friday, November 8, 2013

So why did you become a massage therapist?

Often I have clients ask me why I chose Massage as a career

Its an answer that has changed over the course of my schooling and career

At first it was convenient, the school was close, it was quick, and I could work out my class schedule with daycare for my then two year old, and the biggest was financial aide. I knew that once it came time for me to start my career, I could work a flexible schedule that would allow me to leave for weeks at a time to travel.

As school began, I fell in love with massage. Not only with massage but with the lifestyle that came with keeping people holistically healthy. Starting in the eastern segment of the curriculum, each morning began with a large group meditation and reading of a zen story. Following that were quick yoga and tai chi sessions, after a month I was amazed at how my body and mind felt. 

Learning about the body put me in a place where I wanted to take CARE of my body, its was here in my schooling when I began to wonder how so many doctors still smoked and ate McDonalds, learning how the body worked made it hard to ignore the harmful chemicals and additives that were going into my body. Already holistic, natural and organic, I became aware of the diet that I was eating, cutting back on sugars and adding more whole foods and vegetables to my diet.

It was during the eastern segment of my schooling that I really became focused on the 'energy' portion of massage. Reiki and energy work have always been a part of my life, but now with massage it was hard to ignore the energy that I was responsible for. Touching someone is energy work, no matter what you try to tell yourself, no matter who is giving you the massage, they are doing energy work . I became more focused on my energy and how to transfer a loving touch to someone rather then just an empty massage.

Also, during this time period I was learning Kinesiology, Anatomy and Physiology. The study of how the body moves, the parts of the body, and how the body works. These also became crucial in my learning because I gained an understanding of how the body works, and it was woven with my understanding of energy. I was combining the two for some amazing self discovery, which I shared and discussed with my classmates. 

I did fantastic in school, not only because I loved what I was learning about, but because I was also studying with my daughter. Its always easier to learn when you are studying with someone else. 

At the time I was lucky enough to work at a local yoga studio in town. Working in such a calm and zen environment really showed me how a space like this could effect the work. I worked in a quiet room, with statues of the Buddha, Zen chanting music, surrounded by crystals and incense smoke, after each client the room was cleansed with sage. I found it easy to be one with my clients here.

The second part of my schooling was a western segment, here we focused on Swedish, and sports massage. At first I was not wild about this part, we worked on tables with lotion. Draping was clumsy and awkward and often left something exposed.

But I soon was able to use the lotion and table with ease, draping became graceful and a body part exposed became something easy to handle. I began making my own lotion and oil blends to bring into class. Using the best ingredients I could get and carefully selecting the scents and blends for each client. Something that they really seemed to take notice of.

After school I worked at a number of hotel spas, these places brought in a medium paycheck, but left me feeling unfulfilled, like I was giving choreographed massages. Each client picked from a list of massages, each received the same treatment, and products. In the end it became about selling the client products and getting them in and out as soon as possible. There was little time for intake, to find out where clients needed work or what they might benefit from. There was a quick intake to be sure that the massage was safe, work to the front and back and then the client was out the door. All within a 55 minute period, after the massage, there was a 5 minute period where I would change over the sheets and put in new hot towels, then my next client was on the table. Sometimes up to 9 clients a day! 

These days my approach to massage is different, I want to make a difference.  I know that each part of the massage is essential, from the way the room smells, to the sounds that you are hearing, to the care and attention that is paid before and after the massage.  Questions are crucial.

  • How do you feel before the massage?
  • How are you feeling after the massage?
  • Is there anything you like or don't like for your massage?
  • When was your last massage?
  • Are you on any medications, what medications? (Then its up to your therapist to actually LOOK UP these medications and how they react)
  • Any surgeries or injuries in the last 10 years (yes 10 years, injuries are healing and sometimes your body creates tension to help an injury heal)

My massages these days cost less, they take longer, and all in all I probably make much less then your average massage therapist. 

But they help, they make a difference. Pretty often, my clients don't tip me..... more often they hug me, they leave a book for my daughter, they invite me to dinner in their homes, they ask me about energy work for their sick friend or mother.  And these mean so much more to me then any $20 bill.

So why did I start doing massage? Well I started because I wanted an easy way to support my daughter as a single mom that let me lead the life I wanted to...  

Why do I do massage now? Because I want to help people, because through my massage career I've learned that when you do things for the right reasons, you receive the things that you want and need, and the money is a after thought to helping someone relax.  I'm a massage therapist because I care, because when someone is grabbing at their shoulder or rubbing their lower back, I like being the one who can help.

I've started this blog for my clients, or for my nonclients, or for anybody who wants to read it. Its going to contain tips for healthy living, recipes, my thoughts, and feedback from my clients. I'm open to adding any of your thoughts and ideas. 

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