We like to be in control. Some people want to be in control of just about everything (just try prying the remote away from them), but all of us want to be in control of the important things in our lives.
It could be why some seemingly minor things upset us, such as being stuck in traffic. We can’t do what we want and don’t have much power to change the situation. Obviously there are times we need to be somewhere important, but many times it is just an inconvenience. We arrive grumpy but looking back at it we realize it wasn’t that big of a deal.
Being in control, though, brings the weight of responsibility with it. There are times that we want somebody else to take control of a situation and solve it, deal with it, or just make it go away.
Getting a massage is a passive activity. You are allowing somebody else to take care of you. There is very little for you to do during a massage, and in fact the less you help the better your experience is. The feeling of needing to be in control decreases the more you are in the moment – being aware of the sensations and how the movements feel. If you can let yourself go limp and allow me to move you without helping, you will probably enjoy greater results. You can put down both the problems of the past and anxiety about the future. Those are outside of your control for the most part anyway.
When I’m giving you a massage, I observe your reaction. I see your breathing slow down. You take deeper, fuller breaths instead of shallow ones. I feel the resistance in your muscles soften. I see the tension drain from your face. When I hear an unprompted deep breath – my favorite sound – I know what I am doing is working for you and you will feel much better when you leave.
Of course, you are still in control of your massage. It is all about what you want. Tell me before we start what needs more attention and I’ll adjust the massage to give you what you came in for. Let me know how the temperature feels – it doesn’t matter to me and it’s an easy adjustment. The pressure should be enough to be effective without hurting, so let me know how it feels and I’ll use more or less as needed. Even though you are in control, you can let your public guard down a bit by knowing you are in a safe place. You are not here to impress me.
It is a great relief to not have to be in control, even briefly. Massage is your time to get your body cared for, with the benefit of giving your mind some time off from its responsibilities. Let the world go for a while and enjoy just being yourself.
Barry is a licensed Massage Therapist at Main Street Massage in Hudson, Ohio. Find out more about him, his business, and massage at www.HudsonMassageTherapy.com
Hello Barry! Wonderful work here. I started my massage journey in Ohio. Although, now I am enjoying the sun here in Florida. I wish you the best.
Sonia Alexandra, LMT
Thanks Sonia, glad you liked it.
Barry! This is a great read! Thanks for putting it out here.
I wrote a blog a while ago that is on the same topic and touches on the ideas of non-verbal methods of encouraging surrender within a treatment and the idea of building trust – I would love for you to take a look if you like: https://www.navina.ca/dont-tell-me-to-just-relax/
Thanks Drew. Your post is a good one also. Telling somebody to relax when they think they already are doesn’t help and can make it worse. Using other language and strategies helps relaxation to occur.