Massage Therapy, Torture, and Loving Life

My new client said, “I’m here because I don’t like to be touched”. “Uh-oh!” I thought, “Now this’ll be interesting.”

I noted to her that since touch is what I do, she might think twice about doing the session. No, she said, she understood what I did –this discomfort with touch was an issue she wanted to work on.

So we decided to proceed, yet with frequent feedback during the session. We did 45 minutes – that felt like enough. At the end of the session, I asked her, “How did you like that?” She said, “You mean how much of a torture was it!” Oh my God. I asked, “Well on a torture scale of 1-10, where was it?” She said, “About an 8.”

The Process of Deep Massage

Thereafter we did weekly sessions. Each visit I interviewed her for ten or more minutes to get to understand her better and to note what issues were up for her.

Then we did the table-work. I quickly found an entrypoint which minimized her discomfort, and felt at least neutral, was her feet. Often we would start with the feet, then build on that experience, proceeding to other body segments.

I called what we did “Deep Massage” as I do more or less all my work – because I want to affect people deeply and in a positive way. Sometimes you can affect someone deeply just with a heart-felt word or a very light touch. So the meaning of “Deep Massage” in our school refers to a touch that is deeply effective for the client’s structure and energy, not necessarily a touch with more pressure.

After a couple of months, my new client announced that she was noticing some good results from our work together. I asked her what they were. She said, “I now know why someone might want to live.”

I was awestruck and gratified with her response. I hadn’t fully realized that she had been nearly suicidal or, at the least, so profoundly distressed in the beginning such that she could not understand why someone might want to live.

We continued working for years. Gradually she saw me less and less until it was time to end the therapeutic relationship. She had taken up Aikido and had a new, much happier, embodied life.


The Effect of Deep Massage

What we learn through deep massage is something that lasts for our whole life. When we’re in doubt or despair, even the memory of the high touch quality and our resultant experiences, can remind us why human life is really so beautiful and precious.

Why might someone want to live? To experience the joy of connectedness that is communicated through deep touch is one reason why. Deep Massage helps us love life again.