When massaging, what we are doing, at its most basic, is simply touching. Touching, feeling, responding, engaging. Yet very few schools talk about how to touch, curriculums tending more often to focus on where to touch.
So how should we touch? Kaline, wonderful teacher and brilliant woman, once told me when you massage you should imagine you were walking along a river, unable to see the ground beneath the water. There may be sharp rocks beneath the surface, or there may be mud or sand.
So when you walk, you walk slowly and carefully, like a blind person. Gently feeling the way and making sure that it is safe, before you shift your body weight. Because you never know what lies there: what pains, what traumas from the past, what suffering lie beneath the smooth surface, waiting to be heard.
And listen. Listen well with your hands. What do you feel? Is it hot? Is it cold? Is it swollen? Is it flaccid? Can you feel the pulse, fluid of life, coursing through the flesh? Is it hard like a rock? Is it stringy? Is it spongy? Don’t just assume – listen. And the body beneath your hands, or knees, or feet will talk.
The body you are touching has a story behind it, has a direction ahead. But today, just now, in this moment, let that body be your teacher. Let that body tell you what to do. Not your own mind, which thinks “they’re a little crooked there – I can fix that” or “they’re a little too ____, I think they should be more ____, so I’ll do this”
We, who are performing the massage, are the servants, and we are following our master: the client’s body, who is telling us quite clearly what to do.
So we listen and we trust and we follow, and we start by simply touching.