Massage Chose Me

Abstract


One thing I have learned is that things happen in life when they happen for a reason, even if I don’t understand it at the time. At first I thought I chose massage, but now I know that it chose me.

Massage Chose Me

Working in skilled nursing rehabilitation as a CNA gave me hands-on experience with people. The injuries; physical, mental and emotional states; and places in life were individual, but one thing was constant. There is a basic need for human touch. Obvious physical needs aside, the sick, injured, non-verbal, insane, or dying respond to skin-to-skin human contact. Common effects are stress and pain relief, and accelerated healing (Wurges, 2002). I could feel the connection, that energy transfer. I responded to it as well. Any opportunity to hold a hand, give a hug, rub a sore back, or walk with a hand on a shoulder was taken. I only wished I could help more, but I was kept busy. Those brief human contacts made the job rewarding.

I have always heard touch is a basic human need. It is essential for human growth and development, especially for premature infants (Wurges, 2002; Jacobson, 2006). I witnessed first-hand with my youngest, born at 26 weeks, and isolated from any skin-to-skin contact for the first three months of her life. That included nursing. She was massaged in her incubator, but never felt skin. She grew very slowly.

My body needed the touch as much as hers. Maybe I needed it more. My oldest had died at birth, and I had never held her. I almost went insane. My Navy counseling training helped me recognize danger signs. I was diagnosed with postpartum depression, depression, and PTSD. That saved my life, but when I could finally hold my daughter and take her home, I was emotionally and chemically numb. So much damage had been done it took months, maybe years, to develop a strong parent-infant bond (Jacobson, 2006). I came up for unaccompanied duty orders during this time, so it also cost me my Naval career.

I remained medicated for years until another life-changing experience occurred. I will simply describe it as a Near Death Experience. It has many names. Long tells us a shift toward spirituality, a sense of universal purpose and order, and a more loving connection toward others are commonly reported. Lessons learned and brought back echo basic religious teachings (2002).

I know it changed my perception of life. Like Dorothy stepping out into Oz, the world was suddenly Technicolor, alive with energy, and interconnected. Since then, I have tried various techniques of meditation, rituals, trances, and self-hypnosis with moderate success in achieving altered states of consciousness for any brief glimpse of the source again. Words can’t do it justice, but it exists. I felt it in each small connection at work. Drugs were no longer necessary. I was healing. I was using it to help others. Many told me they felt it too, the compassion and love, especially ones near death. I lost 75 pounds, and am happier and healthier now than I have ever been.

Suddenly this month I found myself without a job. It seemed a good time to take a step up while still remaining in healthcare. And any direction that did not involve diapers was appealing. Massage seemed the logical choice. I knew from previous “wishful thinking” a few months earlier about Everett’s Massage Therapy program, but I couldn’t afford to cut my hours at the time. Being fired for something I did not do turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

I realized I did not actually know anything about working as a massage therapist though. Since I don’t know any, I searched for massage therapists’ blogs. I wanted a first-person view. Many warned of physical and mental stressors, and self-care. I knew that already after years in healthcare. Some spoke of sexual advances. I felt my bartending experience in strip clubs before the Navy made me over-qualified in that area. No complaint on any blog seemed any worse than dealing with projectile vomiting and diarrhea at the same time. Most seemed preferable. Focused stress reduction, better hours, more money, the ability to fully focus on one person, and tips were also attractive.

One blog, however “spoke” to me. At first I thought it was a joke, and was amused. The more I read though, the surer I became. Coates spoke of his massage therapist friend’s “dance” of massage, her rituals, altered states of consciousness (ASC) for both the patient and the therapist, and of transcendence to different planes of existence.

As she travels to another realm – with the help of her rituals and ASC – where she can relax her own mind, feel the ‘groove’ and connect on a new level with her patient, she generates greater potentials of healing and understanding (2010).

I personally can attest to the healing power of those planes. I took a giant leap of faith, and enrolled. I don’t understand forces I used to, but now longer can, deny exist. If there is any meaning to our existence, and I know there is, connecting and caring are the most important, the most basic, and necessary for survival. In five years I may be working with physical therapy patients. I have experience there. Perhaps I am meant to work with PTSD patients. In my work with hospice patients, I discovered their touch is always closest to my memory of that bliss near the end. From my unique and scarred perspective, I find natural death to be more beautiful than birth. I may study Touch Therapy or other forms of Energy Therapy to better learn how to manipulate that unexplainable power during massage to help heal. (Wurges, 2002; Frey, 2003). I have said for years that I could never work with premature infants, but maybe working with them is where I am meant to be.

I do not know yet. After all, as I write this, I am still only in my first week. I believe I will know better with more experience.

In the meantime, I will learn. I will practice. I will gain confidence. I will choreograph my “dance”. I will help others. I will find my own meaning, and whatever that ends up being, it will make me a more complete person. I know am here for a reason. I am very excited to find out what that reason is.

Conclusion


My decision may not be completely logical, but that is perfect for a field with relatively little scientific data and 5000 years of documented results. I love proof that there is still magic in the world if you only believe in it.

References

Wurges, J. (2002). Therapeutic Touch. In D. S. Blanchfield & J. L. Longe (Eds.), The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine (2nd ed., Vol. 5, pp. 3281-3284). Detroit: Gale. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.ezp-00rrx.lirn.net/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CCX3405601551&v=2.1&u=lirn43170&it=r&p=GVRL&sw=w

Jacobson, N. M. (2006). Premature Infants. In J. L. Longe (Ed.), The Gale Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health (2nd ed., Vol. 4, pp. 2201-2206). Detroit: Gale. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.ezp-00rrx.lirn.net/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CCX2584700704&v=2.1&u=lirn43170&it=r&p=GVRL&sw=w

Long, J. A. (2002, December 11). Near-Death Experience, Religion, and Spirituality. Retrieved September 29, 2012, from Near Death Experience Research Foundation website: http://www.nderf.org/NDERF/Research/religion_spirituality.htm

Coates, T. (2010, May 13). Profile of a Modern Day Shaman. Retrieved September 29, 2012, from Trance, Shamanism, Body and Soul website: http://tranceshamanismbodyandsoul.blogspot.com/2010/05/profile-of-modern-day-shaman.html

Frey, R. J. (2003). Energy therapies. In M. Harris & E. Thackerey (Eds.), The Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders (Vol. 1, pp. 358-364). Detroit: Gale. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.ezp-00rrx.lirn.net/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CCX3405700142&v=2.1&u=lirn43170&it=r&p=GVRL&sw=w

Category: Uncategorized  Tags:
Comment Here or Tweet Me.
Thank you.
One Response
  1. SirMichaels_brat says:

    I agree…we don't know why certain events happen in our lives when they do actually happen. We tend not to get clarity until something has happened and we look back at the process. But we each do have a purpose in this life, to be there for others because as you said…we are all connected. I have been on a similiar path…so much in life is finally coming clear to me and I am the happiest I have been in years. I am excited about the future and what it has to hold. Good luck with your quest!