The Meditation of Chair Massage

“Standing or walking, sitting or lying down, During all these waking hours, Let us establish mindfulness of good will, Called the highest state!” – Gautama Buddha

Doesn’t lying down at night feel so good? Could sitting down feel as good? One place where sitting down feels as good as lying down is at the airport in Austin, Texas. That’s because whenever I fly I make sure to get a chair massage. For me it’s a special pleasure because most of the therapists there are graduates of my school – each time it’s a mini-reunion!

Sitting down to receive chair massage is to me is the first necessary step after packing. A well-trained chair massage therapist will utilize kneading and pressure point work with thumbs, elbows, and forearms to ease shoulder and neck tension, relax the back, the arms and hands. The session may range from ten minutes to a half hour.

One thing I really appreciate about this modality is that, unlike most table massage, after a chair massage, I feel energized, rather than sedated. Better put, I feel energized…and relaxed!

(Reprinted with permission from Judi Calvert)

A secret here is receiving in the seated position. As opposed to lying down, most of us spend many of our waking hours sitting. It is a waking position, not a sleeping one. So receiving seated massage translates more directly into our waking life.

It is no accident that most meditation is done in the seated position. It is mid-way between standing and lying down. Sitting gives us the opportunity to be calm and awake. Chair massage takes advantage of the meditational possibilities inherent in sitting.

The original chair massage treatment, developed by David Palmer, is an acupressure routine adapted from the Amma tradition of Japanese massage. This tends to free and stimulate energy flow, rather than just being sedating.

The tension-relief I seek usually is not only physical. I get nervous before flying! And there’s the rushed feeling in days of hurried work preparing to leave for the trip. So the chair massage really is mostly to release that tension, to re-frame the trip as a celebration, a journey to be embarked upon with fond anticipation and excitement.

In the Bible, “anointing” was the name given to sacred massage with special blended oils. Though chair massage is not often performed with oil, I will say that many is the time I have felt anointed sitting in the chair. An awake and skilled therapist can play the role of re-kindling a feeling for the sacredness of life – even in the middle of a busy airport!

May we all enjoy our journeys with this “mindfulness of good will, called the highest state!”