Many people come to me with physical pain, usually upper/lower back. Before I start massaging, we talk – I ask about their overall physical condition, recent operations, injuries, diagnosis. Sometimes there is a clear diagnosis that – at least according to medical standards of western world – helps to explain this pain: spinal degeneration, trapped nerve, prolapsed intervertebral disc and many more. Sometimes the pain is caused by their lifestyle (sedentary lifestyle, heavy physical labour, chronic stress) or other factors.
But sometimes my clients tell me: nobody knows what it is. There was nothing on an x-ray, doctors don’t know the diagnosis, everything looks clear.
And then I massage them and feel their lower spine tensed to its limits, or an iron belt around their chest… and I think: well, you will not see fear on an x-ray, I guess. You will not see trauma so huge that the only thing the person could do was to push it away, hide it in the muscles. You will not see emotions on x-ray, you will not see loneliness, suffering, rejection, helplessness, abuse, loss of hope…
I am neither naive nor idealistic. I know that a disease, that any pain may be caused by endless factors, both external and internal. I am grateful for the western medicine and all it has to offer to ease the pain.
But not everything can be found under the microscope, not everything can be x-rayed, measured, named and cured with pills.
I hope – I know! – that one day all doctors will be prescribing holistic massage (not the one that is purely medical and goal-oriented, but the one that deals with the whole person on every level: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual) as well as meditation, conscious breathing, walks in the nature, creating art or listening to certain music as a cure to pain – as eagerly as they now prescribe pills. I just hope that I will not be too old by then to give all these prescribed massages 🙂
No, I can’t. Well I could but I won’t. And let me tell you why.
Your back is not some separate body part that functions – or hurts – independently of other body parts. And your back pain may have nothing to do with back.
It might be because your feet or calves are tense, and this tension goes all the way through your legs to your back. Your legs and feet need massage and this will help your back.
Your back may be in pain because you feel so much anger that your jaw is constantly clenched causing tension in your neck, spine and the whole back. Full body massage will help you feel more peaceful, relaxed, calm. Loosening up your jaw may help with back pain, headaches, poor sleep. (more…)
The topic of massage and boundaries has been brewing in me for some time now.
Nothing taught me more about people and about myself than almost 2 years of massaging. And when you choose massage to be also your business, sooner or later (usually sooner than later) you will have to deal with boundaries. Like for example: what to do with situations when somebody makes an appointment, doesn’t show up and asks for another appointment? Or when somebody is 30 minutes late? How to set boundaries for my time, my privacy (especially that I massage at home) and my money and stay compassionate?
And finally: how to set boundaries with men? For me, one of the biggest challenges and personal transformations when it comes to massage, compassion and setting boundaries has been massaging men.
Fun fact: I massage more men than women on average. My first client was a man. Over these almost 2 years as a massage therapist I gave probably way over 100 massages to men.
I absolutely LOVE working with men. Mindful, caring massage is exactly what many men – often deprived of non-sexual touch – need and long for. Massaging men is often very rewarding and powerful bodywork.
Over these years and all the massages I gave to men, I’ve learned a LOT about boundaries. I had to. Some of my masseuse friends decided just not to massage men but I never considered that option. I believe that both women massaging men and men massaging women is a great gift to this world. We just need strong boundaries.
Women massaging men is still this not-so-much-talked-about topic in the massage world. We don’t talk about it openly. Instead I get private messages from my masseuse friends asking “how are you dealing with this, have you experienced that?”. Yes, I experienced this and that.
I’ve got countless messages from men asking for massage with happy ending in various versions and I had to learn to deal with them with open and boundaried heart (yes, I believe that the more boundaried you are the more open you can be). These messages made me realize that some men can’t, just CANNOT imagine relaxation without ejaculation. Isn’t this sad? It makes me really sad.
I gave some massages to men when I felt uncomfortable at some point. 3 times I felt really uncomfortable. One time I cried hysterically after my client had left because of something he told me, some inapropriate joke to which I didn’t react. Now I would react. All these situations taught me about MY boundaries.
It helped me when I understood ONE thing – and if you work with people you need to understand it too.
THE MORE BOUNDARIED I AM, THE MORE COMPASSIONATE I AM.
Consider this: “the most compassionate people (…) have the most well-defined and well-respected boundaries. They assume that other people are doing the best they can, but they also ask for what they need and they don’t put up with a lot of crap. (…) They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.” (quote from Brene Brown’s research on compassion).
So in fact I understood that I will never be a good masseuse if I don’t have strong clear boundaries – whether it’s about time, money or sexual behaviour. With strong boundaries I can fully open my heart because I don’t allow any crap to come in. With strong boundaries I can focus on massaging you with this open heart, with care and with awarenes, in the flow and connection instead of wasting this energy on secretely resenting you for something you said or did.
Strong boundaries mean that I don’t accept certain comments or behaviours. And it’s not easy. In fact, it’s often extremely diffucult for me. But I believe it’s either this way or no way.
What is a “whole body massage”?
When I speak about lomi, I sometimes mention that this is a whole body massage. During the massage your body is naked, however, your genitals are covered all the time and are not touched or massaged.
In lomi lomi nui not only your back, shoulders or legs are being massaged, but also arms, hands, neck, buttocks, sides of the body, feet. When a person lies on their back, then the front of the body is massaged, including arms and legs, hands, feet, shoulders, abdomen, face and head. Back and neck are also massaged by sliding hands and forearms under and around the body and performing long gentle strokes.
As for ladies, in lomi lomi breast covering is not usually used. The breasts are not massaged, but the sternum (the area between the breasts where the chest bone is) is massaged.
It is a “whole body massage” in a sense that I mindfully touch and massage not only these parts that are “usually” massaged, like back or shoulders. I massage also your every finger and every toe. Heels. Ears. Top of your head. Ankles. Knees. Hips. Eyebrows and area between them. Forehead. Do you know how many tensions we can accumulate in the forehead?
Lomi lomi nui is “whole body massage” also in a sense that it doesn’t treat body as a set of many different parts massaged separately. You are whole, your body is whole and lomi lomi is to remind you about this. Therefore, it happens often that one of my hands massages the shoulderblade, while the other is on the hip or on the neck. One massages your hand and the other your shoulder. One is on the abdomen and the other is under your back. Or I make long, continuous strokes from your feet all the way to your neck, from your neck all the way down the spine… All this to connect your body parts and to give mindful, compassionate and loving touch to your whole being.
What can happen during a lomi lomi session…
Sometimes it’s relaxing. You lie down, the massage table is nice and warm, the oils smell good, the hands that touch you are soft and gentle, the music plays. You feel good. You fly on a cloud. You feel light, weightless. You are calm, happy, energized, you feel bliss and deep stillness inside. You feel taken care of. You feel your body becoming softer and softer as it melts away all the tensions. Or you simply fall asleep on the table
And sometimes… it’s not. Suddenly… you feel sad, and start crying without a reason. You feel awkward. Dizzy. Lonely. Or angry at gods know what. Or anxious, or scared. Some memories may come to you… memories from so long time ago! Memories of people, places, events… Pictures in your head; voices, smells. From your childhood maybe. Or even from before. It may be surprising. It may be hard. It may be unexpected, uncomfortable, weird.
And it may be the most healing experience of your life.
I remember one of the massages I received. I lied down on the table and two of my friends, Joanna and Maria, started massaging me. It was good. But then, out of a sudden, I started feeling so, so sad, lonely, lost… like an abandoned child. I started weeping and crying. Huge tears were dripping on the floor. And I cried for almost the whole time, while my dear friends were massaging me with love, care and compassion. For two hours. My eyes were swollen from crying, I could barely see anything, and I got a headache. And then… it just ended. Everything that needed to go out, just… went out. Everything that needed to be cried out, just came out. I was lying down, covered with soft fabric, breathing slowly and deeply. Feeling calm. Feeling free. Feeling waves of love and gratitude coming through my body. Feeling so unbelievably light. Like if I left hundreds of pounds of stones and garbage on that massage table. What I left there was something I didn´t need anymore. I left emotions stuck in my body for years, I left memories, old beliefs and patterns of behavior. And I I got reborn. With new body and new mind. New me.
Memory of the body. Emotions, feelings, beliefs hidden in the tissues, muscles, joints.
Wisdom of the body. It knows how to heal. Releasing is healing.
Lie down on the massage table with trust that everything that happens is good for you. Everything you feel or don’t feel, is good for you at the moment. You can be sad, you can cry if you want to. You can be angry. Or you can laugh out loud. Or moan, or make any other noises. Or no noises at all. Or feel nothing special. And yes, it´s okay to snore, too
I’m sending a lot of Aloha to all of you. You are amazing. You are beautiful, and worthy, and enough. Always.