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Massage, Change and Letting Go

Change is here again, or is that still? This is a good thing, right? Massage requires change. Adapting, growth, learning all require change. Our world is changing. Some changes are good, some of them bad, even so, most of us are all for change.

If there is no change there is a denial or a stagnation and some movement stops. Some changes seem to happen to us but we also have the ability to initiate change ourselves. We discern and discriminate, we can allow the desired changes, or we can resist, hold, brace, deny or contract in response to those not for us. Sometimes on, sometimes off, we want control, steering skillfully through our lives. We value and need this flexibility because situations and our information ‘changes’. We deny or allow our way through the complexities of our days.

In ‘normal’ living we are using the healing, rest and digest mode of the parasympathetic nervous system. Alternatively, under stress, when things are happening very fast, we automatically sort the streaming information in a survival mode. We are then using the sympathetic nervous system so we can act quickly to handle the most important things first before it all falls apart. That is a good thing. However sometimes, for many different reasons, we get stuck running in the sympathetic and the little things that we save for later must be denied and repressed longer. We can do this, but over time, through this non-action, we end up storing these nerve impulses or energies in our bodies in a physical way.

Perhaps as a reminder to us of needed changes some of the storage areas may eventually produce pain. Other areas may just shut down, numb, lose feeling altogether. For survival this may be a good thing, but it cannot be a good thing for us as sentient beings to lose feeling. Whether we get ‘stressed-out’ because of overwork, thinking too much or because of any number of other good reasons, we sometimes do get stuck. We may get out-of touch, have trouble letting go, or find it harder to go-with-the-flow. Hopefully, before too long, we become aware of our body’s need to rest and relax, seek a break, to detoxify, to process, to heal. We instinctively seek relief, to shift more to the parasympathetic.

Why are we working so hard? Maybe because our movement forward becomes burdened by resistance in our own tissue. A backlog of stuck energies, some of which we may not even be aware of, may be there but they are ‘deadened’ to our awareness.

As a massage therapist I work with people seeking a healthy change and I always honor them for that and thank them for allowing me to witness and assist in part of their journey. Many of them come with an issue, an area or part of their body that is painful, tired feeling, or otherwise not quietly doing it’s job. Those areas certainly need to relax and heal. I do my best to give them special attention during the massage. Sometimes, though, I feel most helpful when we make surprising discoveries of difficult spots that the client had known nothing about. These may be found in a broader exploration of the tissues somehow relating to or impacting the perceived spots. We can then deepen release of the toxins, tensions and patterns of holding discovered along the way as we follow and explore, feeling even deeper into the interconnected layers. Restoring circulation and sensation more and more completely in this way allows and paradoxically requires deeper relaxation and feeling.

If conditions are all met, and the client and their body are ready, the changes can be profound and even permanent. Layers of entangled tensions are able to be let go of. Even if conditions are not quite ready for permanent change, the momentary respite of relaxing during and immediately after the massage opens the door, reinforces the desired direction, and leaves a ‘feeling impression’ of what a more complete relaxation and a lightening of the load could be like. This letting go could be responsible for euphoric feelings sometimes reported after a massage. I always feel that this signals a change for the better!


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