Most of you who have been reading my blog this past year know that I'm a student of massage therapy and body work. It's become a big part of my life since I enrolled last October in part-time evening classes. I have shared some things here about my experience, and other things I haven't. Part of this is because of the overwhelming amount of information I've been immersed in, and part of it-- the growing parts-- are very personal and precious to me and I haven't found the ability to share all that has been in my heart during this time.
This journey is coming to a close very soon, as my last day of school is on October 10th and our graduation ceremony will be the following week on the 18th. Right now, my focus and energies are being put into preparing for my licensing exam. As well as thinking and planning for the obvious period of transition I will be going through of not having the demands of student life, setting up my private practice, and easing back into more time with my family and outside pursuits.
There is so much I am feeling and have felt all along this path. I don't think there are words that can express this life-changing opportunity I've been given. I will tell you that I have been stretched. My capacities and confidence has grown. I have learned so much. More than I expected or thought possible.
My understanding and appreciation of the absolute grandeur of the human body has been enlightened and I stand in humble awe at what a perfect miracle of creation and beauty it is.
I thought I knew what compassion was before this experience. I felt like I was compassionate person. (That could, should, and will be a topic in and of itself one of these days.) I will say that my understanding has widened to such a broader vision, and the precious opportunities to see, assist, and provide service and loving care with my heart and my hands to those I've been able to work with have forever blessed my life.
The students in my class have become a second family in my life. I'm so grateful for the closeness and friendship I feel for these people. We have learned so much from each other. We love each other.
I wanted to share a little of what I did today with two of my friends from school. We were given an assignment as part of a Professional Development class to present the benefits of massage therapy to a group of individuals and provide them an opportunity to experience first hand how wonderful and beneficial it can be to body, mind, and emotional well-being.
For two hours today, Jenny and I provided 15 minute seated chair massages to some kind and very grateful employees of a local engineering firm. Keri used her amazing Shiatsu (a energetic Japanese modality) skills on a mat on the floor to a group of intrigued, curious, and very eager individuals. (My own mat, sitting in a corner of my bedroom-- all bundled up and bulky-- I've nicknamed my "Sushi Roll".)
All of our clients left notably relaxed, and couldn't stop expressing how much they not only appreciated this break in their long and stressful work day, but also how they didn't know how tense and tight they were as the work was being performed.
"It just feels so good."
"If only we could have you come every Thursday!"
"I needed that."
We heard these words expressed over and over.
It was not only rewarding work today, but fun to be with my friends. Doing what we love to do. And together, too.
After leaving the office, I sat on a table at Costco doing some focused and intentional people watching . Observing bodies. Looking at structures. Noting alignment. The way people hold and carry their bodies. The weaknesses, strengths, ease, constriction, grace, and movement in the way these shoppers moved and walked. There was no room or place for judgement, here (as I've learned all along in this work and calling), just quiet observation. I felt a little sneaky, though, almost like a spy (but not a stalker!), trying to be inconspicuous (eating bites of sushi in between jotting down my notes.
It was an interesting experience. As a body worker, it becomes almost a constant habit to view people, their structures, in this way. And I've learned through first-hand experience that it is very rare thing indeed to find a perfect, balanced, aligned, and "whole" body. We are all flawed in one way or another.
I've found myself continually learning to release this idea of perfection in my own perceived body image. Especially through a class I'm taking this term (where today's other assignment originated from) called Structural Bodywork and Movement. Twice a week, I, along with the other students in my class, dress in what are called "viewing clothes"-- women donning a two piece swimming suit and men in underwear or a Speedo-- and we each have a turn standing in front of a partner or the whole class to have our "structures", our bodies, the way we walk, our posture, all of it analyzed to the minutest details.
I have let go (and am still learning to let go) of this vulnerability about this body of mine. The idea of even being seen by others eyes in a two piece swimming suit.(So, so out of my comfort zone). Letting go of this bagging, sagging skin, the "chub", my cellulite, these sloping shoulders. Letting it all go, as the rest of my fellow classmates have allowed themselves to let everything go.
Releasing it instead to compassion. To understanding. To professionalism. To respect.
And I'm okay with it all.
These flaws. This individuality. This magnificence.
Learning that I, we, all of us-- just the way we are right now-- are beautiful women and men.
Oh, so beautiful.