Massage – A Journey to the Center of the Self

“In my room, the world is beyond my understanding; but when I walk I see that it consists of three or four hills and a cloud.” – Walllace Stevens


In my treatment room, I sometimes wonder if I can really help someone and how. But when the session begins, the client prone, I reassuringly see the familiar landscape of three or four hills, a few valleys and the breath.

I recall the first massage I ever gave. I had George Downing’s Massage Book and my first bottle of oil lying alongside my friend, David, who was facedown on my new massage table.

I remember looking from the foot of the table and seeing David’s body like a landscape from the old West. First the hill of the gastroc and soleus, then a little popliteal valley, the hamstrings rising up to the gluteal promontory, then the valley of the lower back sweeping way up to the thorax, then the curving neck and the head far off in the distance. It seemed to me like a vast journey about to be made, the feeling of distance amplified by the delicacy of that living territory to be traversed.

I warmed the oil in my hands, then made contact with the Achilles tendon and began moving both hands up the leg, and knew I was beginning a new journey in my life. Perhaps I might even help my friend begin anew.

Every true journey is a journey to the center of the self. Jules Verne imagined it under the earth. But we therapists don’t just imagine it. We get to take a real journey over this living surface, affecting what’s underneath, the subterranean flows of muscle, bone, emotion and thoughts.

Each session we do is an adventure story and an interface of biographies. Who could not be fascinated with this journey?

Take a walk through this world of living hills and valleys with its mysterious underlying streams of blood and energy, thought and heart. There we find all our answers. There we find infinite new questions. There we encounter who we most truly are.