I share an indulgence with my daughter: we are both massage junkies, skin pigs, she calls us. We like being touched, touched by a pro. I budget for massages, several a month, and have done so for a long time. My family physician approves, noting that he'd like all his patients to do so.
Jennifer, my wonderful therapist, does deep tissue work on me. Voted "Best" in our town, she earns the title. She's strong and tough and hurts me real good. Sometimes she'll say "Don't hate me" when working the knots out of my shoulders. When I leave her serene spot, I'm liquid. Sliding into the car, I try to get home without being picked up by the police, because I'm sure my nonchalance may appear to be signs of DUI.
Touch is incredibly important. I remember touching, ever so lightly, my husband as his cancer crashed over him. His skin was taut and tender, but he liked the soft strokes of lotion I'd put on his arms and legs. Sweet golden retriever Sadie would lick his arms non-stop: "Here. Let my touch make it all better." Sadie and I hoped our touch eased his pain.
Research shows that massage helps victims of cancer, AIDs, high blood pressure, migraines, stress, and many more maladies. Those who choose bodywork are selecting an important, maybe even sacred, calling.
As important as massages are, not all massages are fun. I recall an excrutiating one in a resort north of Puerto Vallarta, during a yoga retreat with my daughter. The therapist was a tiny, mysterious woman who whispered in my ear as she finished her work, "Listen you heart!" During her intense manipulation, I envisioned many persons in my life and sorted them into angel and devil categories. I put myself in the "diablo" set. When my massage was done, I went to the suite my daughter and I shared and cried, cried non-stop for a long, long time. Could not quit crying. Cried mostly about my husband's death, but cried for lots of other reasons too. Could not understand why that massage triggered such emotion. Oddly, the three persons who had massages that day were ill the following day. Ate the same food, drank the same beverages, et al, as everyone else, but were ill. I'm convinced the therapist was more shaman than masseuse and that we three had somehow been spiritually purged.
I used to see Julie, an amma therapist (practicing a form of Koren acupressure, I'm told). Sometimes when she was working on me, I'd launch into incredible visual treks. One session found me experiencing spring repeatedly as an emerging blossom on a fruit tree. Another saw me wandering calmly through acres and acres of red rock in the Four Corners. Julie transported me somehow with her fingers.
On a recent trip I followed my daughter's advice and sprung for a foot massage rather than a cocktail at the airport before boarding my flight. Oh my goodness, was that the right decision. The twenty-minute massage was heavenly. My flight was on-time and pleasant, but I don't think it would have mattered much to me had it not been either. My feet and I were in nirvana.
Whether I'm in an airport, at a Mexican resort, or at my therapist's calming site, I savor each opportunity for a massage, enjoying the blissful and healing connection with another creature. Blessed am I to be touched.